NZ Prep Poll Week #6

We held off last week on releasing a poll as several teams hadn’t returned from break but now that school is back in session it’s time to take a look at what’s gone on since the Holiday Tournaments. We have 2 new teams in the poll in Cushing and Nobles & Greenough. The biggest movers were Loomis Chaffee up 7 spots from #13 to #6 as well as Nobles & Greenough from unranked to #8. 

1.Dexter School (15-1-0)

Last Week: #1 Dexter returned off winning the LA Groton tournament to go to the EG. Watkins finals where they were beaten for their first and only loss in a rematch game against Lawrence Academy. They responded well winning their next four games against quality opponents in St. Marks, Rivers, New Hampton and Hill School by a combined score of 25-3. Dexter’s depth, speed and goal scoring ability is hard to matchup against and through 16 games this season lead the lead in goals for averaging just shy of 7 goals per game. Next Up:  vs. Thayer;  vs. Brooks

2. Salisbury School (13-1-1)

Last Week: #2  The Crimson Knights remain the hottest team in the league going 13-0-1 since their first game of the season and only loss. Since winning the Flood Marr they have returned to beat surging Brunswick School, Deerfield Academy, Cushing, Westminster and Choate. Salisbury continue to be the most balanced team in the league scoring 4.13 goals per game and only giving up only 1.80 goals against through 15 games. They go on the road this week to play two tough teams in Trinity Pawling and Kent.  Next Up: @ Trinity Pawling; @ Kent

3. Avon Old Farms (13-1-0)

Last Week: #4  While Avon had an impressive start to their season going 8-1-0 through their first 9 games; however, their most recent play has been their best yet beating three straight ranked opponents. The Winged Beavers now sit 13-1-0 with arguably the best resume in the league with wins over 4 ranked opponents. Avon is scoring over 4.36 goals per game and giving up just 1.5 goals against which is impressive given their schedule thus far. Since returning from break they are not only 4-0-0 but have outscored their opponents by a 19-4 margin. The road doesn’t get any easier as they head on the road for back to back games against playoff contenders.  Next Up: @ NMH, @ Berkshire

4. Lawrence Academy (10-1-0)

Last Week: #5  Lawrence continues to climb the polls since their loss in the LA-Groton Tournament finals to Dexter; they went into EG Watkins with something to prove finishing 4-0-0 and taking the title in a rematch against Dexter. They lost their starting goalie for the rest of the season which is a blow as he’s one of the best in the league; but they were able to beat #1 Dexter without him so no cause for panic. They won a close game 5-4 over a surging Nobles team at home which showed they can win big games that come down to the last play. Lawrence is one of the deepest teams in the league and are big, strong and tough to play against. They’ll face two ISL rivals this upcoming week. Next Up:  vs. Milton;@ Nobles & Greenough

5. St. Mark’s School (8-1-1)

Last Week: #6 St. Mark’s has only played 10 games thus far this season but is 8-1-1 with their only loss coming against #1 ranked Dexter. However, their strength of schedule thus far is the weakest of teams in the poll with only 2 wins over teams over .500. With that being said this is a team averaging 6 goals per game and have the talent to play with anyone. A big game against an improved Belmont Hill squad will be a good measuring stick for St. Mark’s.  Next Up: vs. Belmont Hill; @ BB&N; vs. St. George’s

6. Loomis Chaffee (8-2-2)

Last Week: #13  Loomis is one the only two-loss teams left in prep hockey after losing to a stingy Deerfield team after defeating Kent 2-0 after returning from break. Loomis may not have the offensive firepower of the teams above them but in 8 of their 10 games this season they have given up 2 goals or less including 2 shutouts in that stretch. This upcoming week they’ll play two balanced and talented teams in Westminster and Cushing which will be a big test for the small, speedy Loomis squad. Next Up: @ Westminster; vs. Cushing

7. Brunswick (12-4-2)

Last Week: #12 Brunswick continued their strong play since making it to the finals in the St. Sebastian’s Holiday tournament going 6-1-1 since. They have wins against St. Sebastian’s, Kent, Millbrook and their only losses were against St. Andrews (NEPSHIA Affiliate team), #2 Salisbury and #6 Loomis Chaffee which was the first game of their season. They are fourth in wins in the league and the hardest part of their schedule is behind them.  Next Up: vs. Hoosac; @ Hill School

8. Nobles & Greenough (9-4-1)

Last Week: NR  Nobles makes the biggest jump of any team in the poll going from unranked to #8 after their impressive 4-game winning streak against 3 ranked opponents! It starts in the net with Nobles as starter Marc Smith and the Bulldogs have given up just 10 goals in the past 8 games before playing 1 loss Lawrence Academy to a 5-4 loss. Their tie against KUA at the Flood Marr showed they can play against anyone and they backed that up with quality wins against Berkshire, St. Sebastian’s and Thayer giving up just 1 goal against in each of those games against some high-powered offenses. The boys of blue will have quite a test this week in a rematch game against Lawrence and then going on the road to Andover. Next Up: vs. #4 Lawrence; @ Andover

9. Kimball Union (10-4-1)

Last Week: #9  Kimball Union stays where they were the previous week going 3-1-0 after Christmas with their only loss to Ontario based St. Andrew’s School then 3 straight wins against Governors, Cushing and St. Paul’s. Through 15 games KUA is averaging just shy of 5 goals per game for one of the most potent offenses in the league. They will be without star forward Adam Fantili this week as he plays in the Youth Olympics playing for Team Canada but they have the depth to sweep the week. Next Up: vs. Deerfield; @ Brewster; vs. Stanstead

10. St. Sebastian’s (10-3-0)

Last Week: #8  The Arrows drop two spots from last week after going 3-2-0 in their last 5 games since their Holiday Tournament. Sebs came back from Christmas break with two wins in dominate fashion outscoring Williston and Berkshire by a 12-1 margin before losing two-straight to Nobles and Belmont Hill. They responded with a 5-3 win over Tabor showing they got their scoring back. They have a tough upcoming schedule over their next 10 games which will require their very best to make an Elite 8 push in the second half of the season but they have the talent upfront to play with anyone.  Next Up: @ Andover; vs. Governors

11. Hotchkiss (7-4-1)

Last Week: #15  Since returning from the Flood Marr where they made it to the finals only to be defeated by #2 Salisbury; Hotchkiss has gone 2-1-0 with their loss against #3 Avon Old Farms. Despite being a 4 loss team those losses have come against #2 Salisbury twice, #3 Avon and Gunnery which are three of the more talented rosters in the league. Their wins against Nobles and Millbrook are their best of the season and they’ll have a big opportunity to prove themselves as they face Kent and Exeter this week at home. Next Up: vs. Kent; vs. Exeter

12. Kent School (9-5-0)

Last Week: #3 Kent took a big fall after an impressive performance at the Avon Christmas Tournament going 1-3-0 in their last 4 games. However, 2 of those 3 losses were to Top 10 teams in #2 ranked Avon and #6 ranked Loomis. It’s a make or break week for the former Large School Champs as they’ll face #11 ranked Hotchkiss and #2 ranked Salisbury this week to turn it around. The Lions are 8-1-0 when giving up 2 goals or less but 1-4-0 when giving up 3 goals or more so it’s their defensive game that will be counted on down the stretch. Can’t argue with their strength of schedule as they’ve played 8 of their 14 games against ranked opponents. Next Up: @ #11 Hotchkiss; vs. #2 Salisbury

13. Cushing (10-6-1)

Last Week: NR  Cushing has 6 losses which is the most of any team in the poll; however, they have had one of the toughest schedules in the league playing against #1 Dexter, #2 Salisbury, #3 Lawrence twice and #9 KUA. The Penguins are a deep and talented team and when they are firing offensively, they are hard to beat evidenced by their 10-1-1 record when scoring 3 or more goals. Reversely they are 0-5-0 in games where they scored 2 goals or less. They have a big test this week playing home against Thayer and then going on the road against #6 Loomis Chaffee. Next Up: vs. Thayer; @ #6 Loomis

14. Gunnery (12-6-1)

Last Week: #10  Gunnery moves down in the polls after accumulating 3 losses since going to the finals in the Avon Christmas Tournament. With that being said, Gunnery is 5-1-0 in their last 6 games and 2 of their 3 losses were against non-NEPSHIA competition (St. Andrews; Northwood). They have a talented offensive team and have scored 22 goals in the past 3 games. If the Highlanders can learn to pay consistently they’ll have a chance to get back into the Elite 8 discussion as they have the talent but they’ve allowed 4 goals or more in 7 games this season which won’t serve them well down the stretch unless they reverse that. Big week on the road against Williston and Millbrook in must win games. Next Up: @Millbrook; @ Williston

15. Pomfret (9-5-0)

Last Week: #14 Pomfret falls one spot after going 1-3-0 in their last 4 games but the team has had a difficult schedule having to play #3 Avon Old Farms, #4 Lawrence Academy and #6 Loomis Chaffee. They aren’t trending in the right direction as of late and will need to rebound quickly as they face Worcester and Deerfield at home this week. They have a stable of teams in Exeter, New Hampton, Tilton and Groton nipping at their heels but Pomfret has a good opportunity this week to hit double digit wins.    Next Up: vs. Worcester; vs. Deerfield

Outside Looking In:

#16 Exeter;  #17 New Hampton; #18 Groton; #19 Tilton; #20 Belmont Hill

Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images