There are 4 teams remaining in the Chuck Vernon (Elite 8) playoffs and NZ has broken down each game, provided some background and statistics, players to watch and made predictions below.
Nobles & Greenough vs Williston-Northampton
Matchup: Nobles is the best team in prep hockey and has been since day 1 of the season finishing with a perfect 29-0-1 record. Not only are they undefeated but their margin of victory is what stands out the most; this is a team who leads the league in goals for (132), has the least goals against (24) and an averaging scoring margin of +3.57 (4.4 – 0.83). Basically this means the team scores a lot of goals and gives up less than a goal per game. Nobles also had the best strength of schedule and went 20-0-1 against playoff bound teams including a 3-1 win over Williston in late December. Williston-Northampton is similar to Nobles in that they are loaded with D1 prospects and have a tough strength of schedule but a different record against those teams going 12-5-2. Williston is second in the league in goals against averaging just over 1 goal against per game. Nobles is clearly the favorite in this game but given that these are the two best defensive teams in the league it is likely to be a low scoring and tight game which gives Williston-Northampton a chance.
Players to Watch: Brooke Manning (Nobles); Cassidy Piersiak (Nobles) – Brown Commit; Ellie Bayard (Nobles) – Harvard Commit; Emerson O’Leary (Nobles) – Princeton Commit; Julia Simon (Nobles); Kaley MacDonald (Nobles) – Harvard Commit; Kate Ham (Nobles) – Boston College Commit; Katie Pyne (Nobles) – Boston College Commit; Maeve Connolly (Nobles) – Penn State Commit; Sophia Ensley (Nobles); Taylor Hyland (Nobles)- Princeton Commit; Christina Vote (Williston) – Wisconsin Commit; Sophia Jones (Williston) – RPI Commit; Kate McDermott (Williston) – Princeton Commit; Julia Constantinople (Williston) – Northeastern Commit; Bryn Saarela (Williston) – Holy Cross Commit; Madison Cardaci (Williston)- Boston University; Emily Crovo (Williston); Riley Roche (Williston)
Predictions (2-1 Nobles)
“Nobles hasn’t lost a game this season; I don’t see it happening here. They already beat Williston 3-1 earlier in the season; they are the hardest team to play against in regards to speed, skill discipline and team defense. They have played 21 games against playoff bound teams and never lost one. They’ll win here as well.” – Brendan
“Nobles is the best team in the league; they have some veteran leadership with some excellent young talent. Williston has a strong squad and plenty of depth but they won’t be able to score enough to play with Nobles.” – Jess
“I agree with Jess and Brendan that Nobles is the better team but Williston has deceptive depth and won’t be afraid of Nobles and their talent. Williston is an older team and while they don’t have as many high end players; they are a deep and balanced at every position. I like the upset here; not at all out of reach.” – Mel
Andover vs. Loomis Chaffee
Matchup: These teams are no stranger to one another as they’ve faced twice this season with Loomis winning the first contest 2-0 but Andover won the second match 3-2. Andover is 12-6-1 against playoff bound competition with the only tie against #1 ranked Nobles & Greenough. Loomis is 10-6-1 against playoff bound competion with impressive wins over Tabor (2x), Loomis and Williston Northampton. Loomis is 9-1-0 in their last 10 games and look to be hitting their stride at the right time including an impressive upset against #2 Tabor who were widely considered the next best team other than Nobles. Andover has also proven a strong end of the season going 7-2-1 in their last 10 games including wins over BB&N, Loomis, Milton, Worcester and New Hampton including a tie against New Hampton. This has the makings of another close where both teams play with speed, they both play with high compete and effort and both teams are balanced in all three-zones. Loomis has more talent on their roster but Andover is older and more experienced.
Players to Watch: Gwyneth Lapp (Andover); Anna Bragman (Andover); Kyle Quinlan (Andover); Lilian Feeney (Andover); Maddy Silviera (Andover); Olivia O’Brien (Andover); Rachel Neyman (Andover); Sofia Merageas (Andover)- Middlebury Commit; Anna Hurd (Loomis Chaffee) – Brown Commit; Jenna Donohue (Loomis Chaffee)- Dartmouth; Caroline Appleyard (Loomis Chaffee) – Dartmouth; Maggie Johnson (Loomis Chaffee); Molly Jordan (Loomis Chaffee) – Boston College Commit; Paige Larose (Loomis Chaffee); Taylor Guarino (Loomis Chaffee) – Yale Commit
Predictions (2-1 Loomis)
Winner: Loomis Chaffee
“Big wins over Tabor and Williston in the past 5 games show Loomis is a legit contender in this bracket. Andover did beat Loomis within the last three weeks but they won last tme they were in Andover and they will again.” – Brendan
“Andover hasn’t lost a game at home since early January and they appear to be playing their best hockey at the right time. Most recent win against Andover shows they are in their best form and Sophia Merageas in net can steal a game.” – Jess
Winner: Loomis Chaffee
“Both of these teams are deep and can run three lines but Loomis has more firepower and more difference makers, especially on their offensive attack. They are on a four game win streak averaaging 4 goals per game scoring and I think they’ll score more than Andover in this one as well.” – Mel
Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images