Well here we are, the regular season is all wrapped up as of February 20 and on Thursday night in Franklin at MIAA headquarters the Super 8 picks were made (see our live video here) – the 30th field selected in the state’s history. By means of a quick recap for those who are new: 10 teams are cast and seeded from all across the state, with the 7 through 10 seeds kicking off the playoff action with 1-game playoffs at Stoneham Arena on Sunday afternoon. Listed below are the seeds determined by the votes of the committee members in Franklin.
What follows below are preview capsules for each of the teams in the Super 8, which we have scouted numerous times over the course of the season. You may have already seen our report from earlier in the season, ranking the top 230 MIAA players as of January. You may have also already seen our 2020 Watch List for the @MassNZ Mr. Hockey Award, which profiles many of the players on these Super 8 teams.
We will be blanketing the tournament with our scouts in the coming weeks, but before the puck drops, take a look at our refresher capsules for a look at how we got here.
- BC High
- Pope Francis
- St. John’s Prep
- Catholic Memorial
Record: 16-1-4 (.857 winning percentage, 69 GF, 29 GA)
Quality Wins: Reading (2x), Burlington, Hingham
Notable Losses: Pope Francis
Season At-A-Glance: All season long, the Spy Ponders were projected as one of the top teams in the state and that status never changed. They have had a great run of late, with a state championship in 2017 and two seasons thereafter with three losses or less. This year they shrunk their loss total down to 1 (Pope Francis) but the beat nearly all of the other top contenders. It should be noted that they later tied Pope Francis and BC High as the season wore on. They might be the only team who didn’t experience a downturn this year. They were consistently able to win games in a year where nearly every other contender lost one or two big regular-season games against the Super 8 field. This team has the experience and the depth to make a long run in March.
Key Players: It’s hard not to start by pointing out the Northeastern commit in senior forward Anthony Messuri. He knows what it takes to make deep playoff runs and he can play in any situation (5×5, PK, PP). Messuri isn’t the only weapon as Brendan Jones has been sniping all season long and turns himself into a factor no matter what shape the game takes. The Spy Ponders can also look to others like seniors John Hourican and Brendan Pigott as well as junior Leo Piandes to chip in on the scoresheet. Sophomores Jake Murphy and Reid Malatesta have established themselves as solid scoring options as well, this isn’t just a senior-led team. On defense, senior Ryan Davies has been great at both ends all year long and senior goaltender Nate Brennan has played well all season. He makes the saves he needs to make and finds ways to make a couple of Grade A stops per game at critical moments. He will be ready for primetime based on the way this coaching staff operates.
Playing Style: Systematic, deep, smart.
2. BC High
Record: 13-3-4 (.750 winning percentage, 59 GF, 36 GA)
Quality Wins: Framingham, St. John’s Prep, Catholic Memorial, Xaverian, Hingham
Notable Losses: Catholic Memorial, Xaverian, Pope Francis
Season At-A-Glance: They were another of the pre-season favorites despite losing a number of great players from last year’s title squad. The Eagles started off the year with another trophy from the Frates Winter Classic in December but shortly thereafter the adversity hit with losses to CM and Xaverian back-to-back. But, ultimately the senior class really stepped up and the Eagles would only lose one more game the rest of the year. Most recently they rolled into the Buddy Ferreira Classic and won it in impressive fashion by shutting out Hingham in the Final. They are playing their best hockey of late and won’t be fun to play against.
Key Players: This team takes its lead from the seniors, most notably sharpshooter Matt Keohane and defenseman Mike Dragon. Both have led their units to step up their game as the season progressed and they, in turn, raised their games as well. Keohane has one of the better shot releases in the MIAA and for the smooth-skating Dragon this is his last ride before going on to play collegiate baseball. They want a shot at the three-peat. The junior class has key contributors as well. Forward Colin Norton has taken his game to another level, scoring at nearly a point per game pace while slick puck-moving defender John Logan creates quick transition and plays massive minutes in critical situations for the Eagles. We were also glad to hear that senior Aidan Carey would be able to play in these playoffs after a scary hit in a game against Tewksbury, his presence should be a depth boost as well. One area of intrigue for this team is freshman goalie Tom Kiesewetter who has solidified the starting role and just pitched a shutout in the final game of the Buddy Ferreira Classic.
Playing Style: Cunning, quick, skilled.
3. Pope Francis
Record: 13-4-2 (.737 winning percentage, 68 GF, 31 GA)
Quality Wins: Arlington, BC High, Catholic Memorial
Notable Losses: Framingham, St. John’s Prep, Hingham
Season At-A-Glance: There is nobody in MIAA hockey who challenges themselves more than Pope Francis does with their schedule. They schedule NE Prep teams, home and road games against quality out-of-state opponents and they still put up quality seasons every year. This year they took down Delbarton from NJ and beat up on Bishop Hendricken to win the Pope Francis Invitational and then polished off their season with a shutout victory to claim the Cardinal Classic. They are battle-tested and ready to go.
Key Players: This is a very different Cardinal team than you’ve seen over the past two years. There is a youth movement that has sustained the Cardinal attack and it starts with the Ryans. Freshman Ryan Leonard (John Leonard’s younger brother) and freshman Ryan Shaw can really scoot, really skate and really score. They cause matchup problems for the opposition because not only can they close in on you quickly but they are both tenacious and hunt pucks all game long. Scoring depth also comes from the upperclassmen like senior Connor Cognac, who goes down anything but smooth at 6’1 210 and juniors Jake Iby and Brandon Spaulding who both play with some size as well. On the back end is where this team can really come alive. They may be the best transition team in the tournament lead by long strider Logan Dapprich who has great length at 6’2 and a smooth glide up the sheet. A smaller 5’10 Jack Kennedy is a great facilitator in all three zones: he can stop and start and his vision translates quickly to his feet. In net is Super 8 stalwart Ben Zaranek: he may be the netminder here who has seen the most and that should be an advantage for Pope Francis.
Playing Style: Young, fast, athletic.
Record: 11-4-5 (.675 winning percentage, 67 GF, 38 GA)
Quality Wins: Pope Francis, Xaverian (2x), Framingham
Notable Losses: Catholic Memorial, BC High
Season At-A-Glance: Back in the Super 8 after a one-year absence are the Eagles and it was a season of runs which led them to this point. Early in the year, it was a bit of a roller coaster with many of their key wins and losses all occurring by January 18. From that point on it was pretty much all gravy, going 6-1-3 to scoop up the four seed. The margin of victory in the team’s 20 games was a measure in extremes as well: with many one and two-goal victories to start the year and a couple of offensive explosions to punctuate the year: 10-2 and 9-2.
Key Players: You won’t find many other teams in this Super 8 field who play quite as cohesively as a unit as the Eagles. They have some finish, they can play excellent defense and they have good goaltending – it’s a solid recipe. On the offensive side senior Ned Malolepszy continues to impress at the MIAA level because of his intelligence and poise. He is well supported by rising junior Zach McKennelley who is turning into an every shift threat more with each game under his belt. There are plenty of other forwards who can cause matchup problems: seniors Patrick Moran and Ryan Webb as well as junior speedster Jake DiNapoli. On defense the team is led by all-everything blue liner Jack Gilligan who is strong, sturdy and puts himself in great position on every rush. Don’t also forget big rig Will Perry who can move the puck well at 6’4. Speaking of big rigs, the guy in net is Noah Dorsey–Sorofman who has the capability to steal games for this team.
Playing Style: Disciplined, prepared, stingy.
Record: 13-4-4 (.714 winning percentage, 71 GF, 43 GA)
Quality Wins: BC High, Framingham
Notable Losses: St. John’s Prep (2x), BC High, Catholic Memorial
Season At-A-Glance: The Hawks were one of the preseason favorites to make a serious run at the trophy this year and true to form here they are in the field of 8. Pretty much through the month of January, they were rolling: beating Super 8 teams and winning the remaining games on the schedule. But as the calendar flipped to February things got bumpier as they lost to CM and BC High but sure enough, they were able to rebound and they even got some vengeance on Framingham for knocking them off in the MHL Cup in December. This Hawks team has beaten quality teams and won the trap games, and they want to finish what they started last year, getting to within one game of the Garden.
Key Players: The story is much the same as last season with speedster Matty Ryan and hulking winger Ryan Pomposelli dominating games offensively. They both have frames that teams have trouble competing against: just call it playoff muscle. But behind them is a new cast of characters, including senior Ty Marchi and two intriguing sophomore power forwards in Jack Silva and Max Lockwood. All three of them have given the Hawks good scoring depth meaning opponents can’t just key in on their top line. On defense, they can move the puck even more effectively than they could last year thanks to another youth infusion. Sophomores Nolan Dion and Aiden Rodriguez have made immediate impacts, with Rodriguez installed as the new PP quarterback. Each player has good footwork and they both skate with their heads up to survey the zone and catch the opposition napping. In net Kyle Harvey has had the luxury of much of the action being at the other end of the ice, but he made a number of nice stops in the games we saw this year.
Playing Style: Athletic, quickness, anticipation.
Record: 8-6-6 (.571 winning percentage, 42 GF, 38 GA)
Quality Wins: St. John’s Prep, BC High, Xaverian
Notable Losses: BC High, Pope Francis
Season At-A-Glance: The skeptics would bristle at their record, but make no mistake, nobody wants to play them. The winners of the Catholic Conference started the season strong against out-of-state opponents in their Christmas Tournament. Shortly after building that momentum they ripped off wins against a couple of Super 8 teams (SJP, BC High) and later went through a three-game stretch where they held three Super 8 teams to a single goal in regulation. As the year went on they did lose to a couple of high profile teams but they rallied after those losses to win a tough conference battle. They have been tested from every angle and should be a tough matchup.
Key Players: This team doesn’t beat you with one player: it wins as a team. Their best game plan is taking you out of your rhythm. They play as hard if not harder than any team in the Super 8 and they won’t beat themselves trying to do too much with the puck. The story of this team aside from their ability to clamp down defensively is sophomore goalie Dom Walecka who has really excelled especially over the last two months in order to secure big wins for the Knights. He has good feet, makes timely saves and galvanizes his team because they know he has their back if things go awry. Despite being a five-man unit on the ice, you will likely hear offensively from senior captain Will MacNeil, senior forward Zach Callahan, junior forward Glen Considine and sophomore forward Gavin Havens. All of them can skate, grind, stay on pucks and muster energy late in games to make a difference on the scoresheet. Don’t also forget senior defensive captain Kevin McCarthy and junior Seamus Burke who can be offensive threats but are great in patrolling their own end and shutting down space and time.
Playing Style: Grinding, limiting, teamwork
Record: 14-4-4 (.727 winning percentage, 67 GF, 44 GA)
Quality Wins: Reading, Hingham
Notable Losses: Arlington
Season At-A-Glance: It’s been a wild ride this season for Burlington who was red-hot to start the season, riding a 10-game win streak through mid-January. But inevitably adversity hit in late January with a loss to Arlington, although after a couple of ties, the Red Devils rallied to go 4-1-1 over their next six. Ultimately they dropped lower on the Super 8 list partially due to those struggles but also because their two biggest W’s came against fellow play-in participants Reading and Hingham. It should also be noted that a Cahoon Tournament title just before Selection Thursday was a nice feather in the cap before the committee made their picks. Don’t sleep on the Red Devils because they can strike quickly.
Key Players: Senior captain Ryan O’Halloran is likely the most heralded member of this team offensively but by no means is he the only option. O’Halloran is a burner who looks to attack you on every play but senior Cam Costa looks like a carbon copy playing with much the same pace and tenacity. The second line of senior Jake Vozikis, junior Zach Auble and junior Jack Jay might be one of the most underrated lines in this tournament. They make life difficult because they retrieve pucks well, they hustle and they can bury. Defensively you have the twin towers in sophomore Anthony Andriolo and junior Colin Browne: big men who are fleet of foot and make the transition game go for the Red Devils. Of course, there is also a big man in net as well in junior Joe Trabucco. He has had some big games this year to preserve wins for Burlington and if he gets hot he could be a difference-maker in single-elimination games.
Playing Style: Athletic, mobile, deep.
Record: 14-5-2 (.705 winning percentage, 60 GF, 31 GA)
Quality Wins: Pope Francis, Hingham
Notable Losses: BC High, St. John’s Prep, Xaverian
Season At-A-Glance: The Flyers find themselves back in the Super 8 field this year, but this time with the safety net removed and having to play their way into the top 8. It was another stellar season for the public school heroes: they started off hot with four wins and they rode the momentum to an MHL Cup victory over Xaverian. However, the road got tougher losing games in early January to BC High and SJP before getting back on track and winning six straight later in the month. Just as the season was drawing to a close the Flyers narrowly missed taking home a Cahoon Tournament trophy, losing to hometown Burlington in OT.
Key Players: The offense for the Flyers is paced by senior Will Trischitta who led the team in scoring by a hefty margin. Make no mistake that he powers this team’s offense because of his physicality and attacker’s mentality. The two assistant captains in senior Robbie Lopez and junior Hunter Balducci are threats in their own right. They play fast and dangerous, aiming to wreak havoc and fly the zone any chance they get. Defensively they have a solid core as well led by junior Dom Leone, who is not only an additional scoring threat with excellent vision but the best transition player on the team. Captain and defender Jared Shimelman is a steady influence at both ends and knows how to create offense by creating turnovers. Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the reason the Flyers are where they are: the play of senior goalie Jake Handy. He is athletic, has great vision through traffic and has some of the best composure in the MIAA. No matter where or who they play, you are in for a show.
Playing Style: Transition, speed, attack. (sound familiar from last year?)
Record: 10-5-6 (.636 winning percentage, 47 GF, 41 GA)
Quality Wins: Tied BC High at Buddy Ferreira Classic
Notable Losses: Burlington, Arlington (2x)
Season At-A-Glance: This was an up and down type of season for the Rockets, who maxed out with a four-game win streak in the middle of the month of January. They played a tough schedule in the Middlesex League and lost three games to teams in the Super 8 field. Their best work was done late in the season during the Buddy Ferreira Classic when they tied BC High and nearly got to the title game but ended up losing in OT to the eventual Tournament Champs. They beat Arlington Catholic on the final day in a consolation game to notch their 10th win which was just enough to gain the last spot in the field (by one committee vote).
Key Players: There was a late push as the end of the season approached and that was what solidified Reading as the final team, but don’t sleep on their athleticism and skills with the puck. Junior Landyn Greatorex propels himself up the ice with those long strides and fends off defenders well with his body to lead the team in scoring. You also have freshman forward Evan Pennucci who has exploded onto the scene this year and he shows a hockey IQ beyond his years which makes him dangerous as well. They have additional scoring depth because their senior class is strong-bodied and strong-willed with Shawn Golden, Kevin Donaghey and captain Sean Barbara. On defense, you have to puck-moving seniors who run the show from the back end in shifty captain Matt Fiorenza and heads-up transition man Cam Lawhorne. And then you have the big man in net in senior captain Dylan Emery: who plays with about as much passion for the game as you can find in a netminder. He can flat out steal games when he is locked in.
Playing Style: Opportune, shifty, sneaky.
Record: 12-7-3 (.614 winning percentage, 55 GF, 37 GA)
Quality Wins: St. John’s Prep, Pope Francis
Notable Losses: Burlington, Arlington, Framingham, BC High
Season At-A-Glance: Basically lived a three-act play in one season of hockey. The first act was all about offensive firepower, tallying 18 goals in their first three games. But then came the Serino Christmas Classic in which they got swept and led into the second act of the season in which the Harbormen played .500 hockey splitting wins and losses through most of January. In the final week of January, the third act began and Hingham began to make a charge once again reeling off four wins, two ties and a loss to the #1 seed in Arlington. Then came the time-honored Buddy Ferreira Classic where they finished just short of a championship, losing to BC High in the final.
Key Players: Much like Hingham teams of the past, these Harbormen are big, strong and they play physical hockey. They aren’t quite as imposing as last year’s mammoth roster but they are still those big bad dudes that you don’t want to play against. In terms of their forward group, senior Tim Carroll is having a nice senior season and paces the team’s scoring as the top threat. The team also relies on physical 6’1 junior Paul Forbes as well as senior captain Terrence Concannon. These forwards particularly excel at chasing down pucks, being strong along the walls and winning 1-on-1s. On defense senior captain Danny Packard leads a good group who are tough to play against in their own zone. They also have an offensive threat in sophomore Bobby Falvey who possesses a good stick and keeps things simple. Don’t also forget 6’1 junior goaltender Theo Jacobs who has seen a lot of rubber this year but still put up over a .920 save percentage on the season.
Playing Style: Big, mean, chip-n-chase.