NZ Prep Poll Week #1: Top 10

NZ scouts were on the road throughout the week to get eyes on several teams before the Holiday tournaments. We released a preseason poll based mostly on historical performance having not played since the 2019-2020 season but after a week of games we have a better idea of how teams are looking. The top 3 remains the same unbeaten but we have added some teams to the poll this week and moved a few teams up and down.

NZ Prep Poll Week #1: Top 10

1. Salisbury School (1-0-0)

2. Kimball Union (5-0-0)

3. Cushing Academy (3-0-0)

4. Avon Old Farms (2-0-0)

5. Brunswick (2-0-0)

6. St. Sebastian’s (2-0-0)

7. Dexter School (1-1-0)

8. Canterbury (2-0-0)

9. Westminster (1-0-0)

10. Frederick Gunn School (2-1-0)

New to this weeks poll is Brunswick, Canterbury and Westminster. Brunswick went on the road and won all three games against good hockey teams in Loomis Chaffee, Phillips Exeter and New Hampton. Canterbury, who is making their first appearance on the NZ Poll since we started in 2017-2018 season, after going 2-0 to start the season, not including a scrimmage win over a talented Gunnery squad. The last newcomer to the poll is Westminster who went on the road and beat a quality NMH team who is 3-1-0 and just shy of making the poll.

1. Salisbury School

They have just one game under their belt but a shutout win over Williston-Northampton to hold their top spot. They’ll have a stiff test this week with three quality opponents before heading to the Flood Marr; but this looks to be the most balanced team in the land. Upcoming Week: Millbrook, Hotchkiss, Kent

2. Kimball Union Academy

The Wildcats have been beating up on affiliate teams north of the border with victories over Stanstead and Bishops College but it was at Exeter Invitational where they really showed what they can do against prep competition. They beat up on Vermont Academy and then earned a quality victory against a solid Kent team which knocked them out of the Top 10. They’ll face Lakes Region rivals this upcoming week but there is a real chance they head to the Flood Marr unblemished. Upcoming Week: Proctor; St. Paul’s

3. Cushing Academy

Cushing could make an argument for the top spot after being the only undefeated team with a win against a Top 5 team (according to last weeks poll). What is impressive with the Penguins is not only their 3 NEPSHIA wins but the way in which they did it. They proved they can win tight, low scoring games as they did against Winchendon (1-0) and Dexter (2-1) and they can also win in a high scoring shootout type as they toppled Stanstead 6-5. Upcoming Week: @ Williston-Northampton; Hill School

4. Avon Old Farms

John Gardner is the all-time winningest coach in Prep School hockey and got his 800th win this past week which is a record unlikely to ever be beaten (keep in mind NE Prep teams play just 25 games a season). The team has plenty of talent and we knew they’d score but going 12-0 in their first two games with back to back shutouts is impressive way to kick off the season. The test get stiffer this week against Taft and Trinity Pawling who are both well-coached teams that are tough to play against. Currently at #4 but when they are clicking they might be the most dangerous team in the league. Upcoming Week: Taft, @ Trinity Pawling, Deerfield

5. Brunswick

Brunswick was on our honorable mention in the preseason poll as we knew they had the speed and skill but they are also one of the youngest teams in prep hockey. They sure haven’t looked their age as they went on the road and earned 3 straight victories and quality victories nonetheless. They went on the road to beat Loomis Chaffee convincingly, they followed that up with a 8-2 victory over New Hampton and earlier today beat a good Exeter team in their home barn 4-0. They’ll stay on the road this upcoming week with tough opponents on the horizon in Kent and Westminster. From a resume standpoint Brunswick and Cushing are the top of the list. Upcoming Week: @ Kent; @ Westminster

6. St Sebastian’s

St. Sebastian’s came off this week with two wins over quality opponents in Milton and Rivers and look like a team that’ll be tough to knock off. They will play a reinvigorated Portsmouth Abbey team who is also undefeated and a deep Exeter squad who can play with anyone. If the Arrows can win out this upcoming week it’ll say a lot as they head into ISL play the following week against two talented opponents in Nobles and Belmont Hill. Upcoming Week: Portsmouth Abbey, Phillips Exeter

7. Dexter School

Dexter falls a few spots here and is one of only two teams in the poll with a loss but that loss was a one goal game on the road against Cushing where they controlled the play at times but couldn’t close it out. They rebounded well with a 5-2 win over St. Mark’s who is no easy win and will return this week to play Exeter and Nobles before gearing up for the Lawrence Groton Tournament. Upcoming Week: @ Phillips Exeter; @ Nobles & Greenough

8. Canterbury School

Canterbury showed well at the Berkshire Jamboree despite the games being scrimmages they beat a talented Gunnery team and also played #1 Salisbury tight. This past week in official NEPSHIA play they went 2-0 with wins over Millbrook and Hotchkiss which are both teams you have to earn your victories against. They have just one game this upcoming week against a Loomis Chaffee team that will be hungry after their opening night loss to Brunswick. Upcoming Week: Loomis Chaffee

9. Westminster School

Westminster was not listed in our initial preseason poll and was also snubbed on the Honorable Mentions but went on the road in the opening weekend to knock off a 3-1-0 NMH team that is right on the cusp of the Top 10 poll. They have just one official NEPSHIA win at this point and will get tested this week but they do have a quality win, albeit a scimmage game, against Avon which shows they can play with the top teams. Their upcoming game against Brunswick will have a major impact on next weeks poll prior to the Flood Marr. Upcoming Week: @ Choate; Brunswick

10. Frederick Gunn School

Like Dexter, they dropped a few spots but are just one of two teams with a loss on the poll after starting off their season with three straight road games with wins over Hotchkiss and New Hampton but a 5-3 loss to Exeter. They have 5-10 teams nipping at their heels to get into the poll so they’ll need a strong week. They’ll face another three games including rivals Kent and Berkshire on the road. Upcoming Week: @ Berkshire, @ Kent, Williston-Northampton


There are several teams in contention for the bottom spots. We saw Nobles vs. Belmont Hill this week which skated to a 1-1 tie and both of those teams have the depth to be a top 10 contender. We saw several teams go undefeated to start the year with the likes of Holderness (2-0-0), Portsmouth Abbey (2-0-0), Brooks (2-0-0) and Tilton (1-0-0). A few teams that got a loss but are dangerous like NMH (3-1-0), Exeter (3-1-1) and Berkshire (0-1-0) will also be in contention with a strong week #2.

Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images