NZ Prep Poll: Week #7

The New England Prep calendar is getting into the last quarter of the season with eyes on playoffs heading into February. Avon Old Farms remains the top team in the league with the only undefeated record, but several teams are behind them, fighting for a home-ice playoff spot. There were not a lot of changes in this week’s poll from the prior poll, except Nobles who moved out.

1. Avon Old Farms (16-0-1) – Big week for Avon as they took down all three Connecticut rival games, starting with Westminster, then a ranked Loomis Chaffee squad, and then Choate, outscoring them 15-6. They have a rematch with Westminster this week to potentially close January unbeaten on the season.

2. Holderness School (17-1-0) – The Bulls continued their offensive assault on the northern schools, taking down Brewster (6-2), Kents Hill (7-1), and a revenge game against New Hampton, the only team to beat them this season with a convincing 9-0 victory at home. Holderness is the highest-powered offense in prep hockey but will face their toughest competition yet, going on the road to Phillips Exeter and then home against #4 Kimball Union for the NZ Prep Game of the Week.

3. Brunswick (14-2-2) – After an impressive run, Brunswick has hit a bit of a wall, losing three of their last four games at the Macpherson Tournament, but the good news for them is that only one of those games counts for the NEPSHIA record (Culver Academy). They drop just one spot, but they’ll have to come out of this weekend re-focused as they play six quality teams in a row to kick off the month of February, including top 10 ranked Cushing and Salisbury.

4. Kimball Union (17-2-0) – The Wildcats took care of business this week with two dominant wins over Tilton and Exeter by an 11-2 scoring margin. They have three games this week, starting with NMH and then going on the road to rival Holderness School, which will be their first ranked opponent since beating Salisbury in the Flood Marr. They close the week out against New Hampton on Saturday. A sweep for KUA this week would have significant playoff implications for Elite 8 home ice.

5. Cushing Academy (17-2-0) – The Penguins extended their win streak to nine straight after shutting out both NMH and Exeter and scoring 16 goals over two games. They are one of the hottest teams in the league right now at both ends of the ice and will be heavily favored in both games this week against Tilton and Vermont Academy. The following week, they’ll face three playoff contention teams, which will be the true test of where this team is heading into the final stretch.

6. St. Georges (14-3-1) – St. George’s started the week with a big win against Rhode Island rival Portsmouth Abbey and followed that up with a big win against a surging Dexter team in a close, tight-checking game. They then fell to Milton on Saturday but maintain their seeding here with just three losses on the season. The Dragons will go on the road this week to Middlesex and Berwick.

7. Salisbury School (12-4-1) – They are 6-1-1 in January and seem to be hitting their stride as they head into February, where they’ll face three ranked opponents back to back in the middle of the month. Right now, they’d be a road team in the Elite 8, but a team no top seed will want to face.

8. Andover (12-4-1) – Andover is another team playing their best hockey as of late, winning five of their last six games, including a big win against a playoff contender in Loomis Chaffee. They have a difficult week ahead, which will have major playoff implications playing three teams over .500 this year in Deerfield, Dexter, and on the road at #9 Belmont Hill.

9. Canterbury (15-5-2) – There were several teams with five losses but we moved Canterbury to the top because they are 9-1-0 in their last ten games and beating quality teams. They are currently riding a seven-game win streak and averaging over six goals per game in that stretch. The Saints will face Berkshire this week on the road.

10. Loomis Chaffe (10-5-1) – The Pelicans lost both games this week but remain in the poll given their strength of the schedule and having the highest quality wins among five-loss teams with victory over #3 Brunswick and #9 Canterbury. Loomis has just one game this week against Williston-Northampton but returns to February play with a tough stretch ahead. They are outside in at this point for the Elite 8 but well within striking distance as they head into February.

Honorable Mentions: Belmont Hill, Noble & Greenough, Groton, St. Mark’s

Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images