NZ Prep Poll Week #3

NE Prep had over 100 games played over the course of the weekend which had a major impact on the polls. There were five new teams in the poll which has been the biggest movement in and out this season with new teams Brunswick, Hotchkiss, and Pomfret The teams that were eliminated from the previous poll were Cushing, Tilton and Holderness.

1. Dexter School (8-0-0)

Last Week: #1 Dexter opened up the Holiday Tournament weekend with a convincing win over Proctor Academy followed up by a gutsy victory over an older, experienced Culver team who are tough to play against. They faced undefeated Lawrence Academy at their home rink for the championship game and won 3-1 in a game they controlled the play most of the game. Dexter’s special teams, their transition game and offensive depth is unmatched in prep hockey this year and it’s very likely they’ll get better and better as the season goes on. They are leaning on an ’04 goalie which, despite his talent and ability, is a lot to ask for a prospect so young; but he has been up to the task. Defensively they take away time and space and they break pucks out as well as anyone in the league. They head into the Christmas break with an LA-Groton Championship and the title of team to beat in NE Prep. Next Up:  EG Watkins Tournament

2. Salisbury School (8-1-1)

Last Week: #7  The Crimson Knights captured their second straight Flood Marr Championship with a talented field beating their rival KUA who has defeated them the past two NE Prep Finals. They then defeated Milton Academy and tied ranked 15th Deerfield earning them a finals appearance where they topped 12th ranked Hotchkiss. What separates this team from others below is their size, their versatility to play a skill game or a heavy game and their depth at all positions. They are big, strong and tough to play against but they can score and make teams pay when they turn it over. Their only loss on the season was their first game which was on the road; since then they are 8-0-1.  Next Up: @ #10 Brunswick; vs. #15 Deerfield

3. Kent School (8-2-0)

Last Week: #14  Kent Lions came into the Avon Christmas Tournament losing two of their previous three games but rebounded well and swept the tournament with wins over #4 Avon Old Farms, St. Paul’s, Tabor and #9 Gunnery.  Avon Christmas Tournament was arguably the toughest of the holiday tournaments so a Championship says a lot for where this team is at heading into Christmas break. They have a winning formula given their size, their physicality and depth and they have just enough skill to make plays and score timely goals. Their goaltending has been excellent and they play as a good of team defense as anyone in the league. A team with an identity who can beat you in a variety of ways. Next Up: vs. #13 Loomis Chaffee

4. Avon Old Farms (9-1-0)

Last Week: #2  Avon played five games in six days and won four of them with their only loss being a 3-1 game to #3 Kent despite outshooting them 39 to 25. After that game they won the next 3 by a combined score of 15-6. They average over 4 goals per game and give up 1.7 on average making them a tough matchup for anyone. The Winged Beavers have a nice blend of young talent with older, more veteran leadership. They are bigger and have another dimension to their game this season not to mention a goaltender sporting a .923 SV%. Despite Avon having a loss and dropping two spots in the polls; they also beat two ranked opponents this week against Berkshire and Deerfield where they didn’t give upa goal in either game. Dangerous team. Next Up: vs. #12 Hotchkiss; vs. #14 Pomfret

5. Lawrence Academy (5-1-0)

Last Week: #4  Lawrence has had only one loss on the season which came against #1 ranked Dexter in the LA-Groton Tournament Championship. Lawrence is a big, strong, physical team who will only get better as the season goes on and they have the depth up front and the goaltending to make a deep playoff run. They were a bit undisciplined against Dexter and took too many penalties which they’ll have to clean up in order to beat top teams but they are one of the tougher matchups in the league because of their physicality and ability to roll three lines. Next Up: EG Watkins Tournament

6. St. Mark’s (7-0-1)

Last Week: #9 St. Mark’s is the only team outside of Dexter with an undefeated record; however, they find themselves at #7 because their only win over a .500+ team was Groton in a 7-6 victory in the first game of the season. St. Mark’s played in the Barber Tournament this past weekend and a shootout loss (officially a tie) to The Hill School kept them out of the championship game to defend their title. It’s a talented team who leads the league in goals scored with 52 in 8 games. They’ll play top ranked Dexter when they get back from break which will be a great measuring stick for where this team belongs in the rankings. Next Up: vs. #1 Dexter; @ Roxbury Latin

7. Thayer (4-1-0)

Last Week: #12 Thayer moves up a few spots after the Holiday Tournament teams beat each other up and Thayer cruised to a convincing win over Canterbury in their lone game of the weekend. The loss against Andover keeps them out of the top 5 and they don’t really have a signature win to date. However, they’ll have a big-time chance to prove themselves at the EG. Watkins Tournament which is shaping up to be the biggest tournament of the season with Lawrence, Cushing, Dexter and Culver attending to name a few. They are a tough team, they have skill equally distributed in all three phases of the game and are scoring over 5 goals per game. Next Up: EG. Watkins Tournament

8. St. Sebastian’s (7-1-0)

Last Week: #8  St. Sebastian’s stays in the same spot as last week after going 3-1-0 this week with their lone loss coming against surging #10 ranked Brunswick in a 4-3 game where the Arrows outshot them 29-20. They are a skilled, possession style team that is excellent in transition and create a lot of scoring chances but against a talented Brunswick team they were sloppy in their own end and turned pucks over under pressure. They’ll face a challenging #11 ranked Berkshire squad when they return from break as well as Williston Northhampton who they beat on Sunday 4-1.  Next Up: vs. #11 Berkshire; @ Williston

9. Kimball Union (5-2-1)

Last Week: #6  Kimball Union dropped a few spots in the poll after going 2-1-1 through the Flood Marr with a loss to #2 ranked Salisbury and a tie to Nobles & Greenough to go 5-2-1 on their season. Kimball has a really talented forward group but have struggled against the better teams going 0-2-0 against ranked opponents. Their wins over Tilton, Proctor and Deerfield are all quality and show what they are capable of. The Wildcats will go to the True Hockey Showcase after break. A real contender but struggling with consistency. Next Up: True Hockey Showcase

10. Gunnery (6-3-0)

Last Week: #15  Gunnery moves up in the polls after an impressive showing at the Avon Christmas Tournament where they beat two ranked opponents in Loomis Chaffee and Berkshire as well as a tough Trinity Pawling team. They were defeated yet again by Kent who beat them earlier in the month but this time a one goal game where their previous loss was 8-1. They also revenged their loss to Berkshire with a 1-0 win where a week before they lost 5-1. Gunnery last three losses which is the most of any team in the poll but they came against ranked teams and they have a lot of quality wins as well. They are still finding their identity as a team but there is a lot to like about them. Next Up: True Prep Showcase

11. Berkshire (5-2-1)

Last Week: #3 Berkshire came into the Avon Christmas Classic with a perfect record only for them to go 1-2-1 over their four game in the tournament. With that being said, they played three ranked teams during those four games and both their losses were 1-0 games against #4 Avon Old Farms and #9 Gunnery. They are an older team and are defensively responsible giving up only 1 goal or less in 6 of their 8 games. They’ll return from break to play ranked St. Sebastian’s and Nobles & Greenough on the road. The Bears are getting quality goaltending and defensive play but need to find more ways to score to beat the top teams.  Next Up: @ #8 St. Sebastian’s, @ Nobles & Greenough

12. Brunswick (6-2-1)

Last Week: NR Brunswick makes their prep poll debut this season after an impressive showing at the St. Sebastian’s Holiday Tournament where they made it to the championship game only to lose to Ontario powerhouse St. Andrew’s School. They have wins against St. Sebastian’s and Kent who are both top 10 teams and their only losses were against St. Andrews (NEPSHIA Affiliate team) and Loomis Chaffee which was the first game of their season. They are on a 6-1-1 run in their last 8 games and look like a team gaining momentum headed into break.  Next Up: Belmont Hill Tournament

13. Loomis Chaffee (7-2-1)

Last Week: #5 Loomis came into the Avon Christmas Tournament undefeated but went 1-2-1 during that time. They defeated St. Paul’s School 5-0 to head into break but before then tied #11 ranked Berkshire and lost to Trinity Pawling and #9 Gunnery, both by one goal. They are scoring over 3 goals per game with a tough schedule so far. The road doesn’t get any easier for them as they’ll return from break facing three straight ranked opponents. Next Up: @ #3 Kent; vs. #15 Deerfield; @ #14 Hotchkiss

14. Pomfret (6-2-0)

Last Week: NR Pomfret is an older team this year and showed well at the Lawrence-Groton Tournament going 2-1-0 with their loss against #5 ranked Lawrence. Pomfret is a good skating team, they work hard and have given up 2 or less goals in 7 of their 8 games with their goalie sporting a .941 SV%. The Griffins will face Roxbury Latin and Winchendon when they return which should set up for a playoff implication showdown with Avon Old Farms mid-month. Next Up: @ Roxbury Latin

15. Hotchkiss (5-3-0)

Last Week: NR  Hotchkiss came into the Flood Marr tournament with a 1-2-0 record but went on to win all their preliminary games against Westminster, Nobles and Andover to face Salisbury in the championship game.  While their 5-3-0 record is borderline for getting into the poll; all three of their losses came against ranked opponents including two against #2 ranked Salisbury. They aren’t overly dynamic offensively but they have good size, they play a disciplined defensive style and have one of the better goaltenders in the league. Next Up: vs. Millbrook; @ #4 Avon Old Farms.

Photo Credit: Dan Hickling / Hickling Images