A few thoughts on tonight's Super 8 play-in games:
Interesting to note that both of tonight's Super 8 play-in games are rematches from the 2007-08 season. Ironically, the lower seed in each of tonight's games was actually the regular-season victor.
Tenth-seeded Xaverian blanked seventh-seeded Needham, 2-0, back on Dec. 29, while ninth-seeded Westford Academy dropped eighth-seeded Waltham, 3-1, on Dec. 19.
Under the current Super 8 format, teams are seeded in spots No. 7-10 based on regular-season winning percentage.
In the early game, Needham is likely chomping at the bit to get back on the ice. Not only is there a bit of a revenge factor against the Hawks this evening, but Needham endured a disappointing 1-0 loss to Chelmsford in the Cahoon Tournament back on Feb. 20 and that defeat may have hurt its chances at landing a top 6 seeding (and avoiding the play-in round all together).
Needham had won 12 in a row prior to that game and was unbeaten in its last 15 (winning 14 of those games, while tying Wellesley, 3-3, on Jan. 9). That streak dated all the way back to the Xaverian loss. Earlier in the year, the Rockets also dropped a 4-3 heartbreaker to BC High (the tournament's fourth seed), while skating to a 2-2 tie with Hingham (the tournament's second seed).
One year after being the only Catholic Conference team not invited to the big dance, Xaverian earned its first Super 8 appearance this winter. They'll need a win tonight to truly reach the dance floor.
The winner advances to meet Hingham in Saturday's first round of round-robin play at the DCU Center in Worcester. The loser falls into the Division 1 South tournament as the top seed and will meet the winner of a first-round game between Weymouth and Framingham.
In the late game, Westford will be looking to reward the committee for bestowing the last available slot to the Grey Ghosts. The seven-member committee debated long and hard about whether Westford or St. Bernard's deserved the final spot in the Super 8 field, but it was the Grey Ghosts that won the vote, 4-3.
That win over Waltham earlier this season likely helped their cause. But it won't help them tonight. Both teams admit they've changed since that first meeting, but will it be enough to change the outcome?
Waltham knows all too well the disappointment of losing a play-in game. The Hawks were unceremoniously bounced during last year's play-in game when Central Catholic erupted for three third-period goals in a 3-1 triumph. Waltham advanced to the Division 1 North finals that year, falling to Woburn in the championship tilt (the Tanners were the other wild card victim in 2007 after losing in a shootout to Austin Prep).
The winner's reward this year? A first-round matchup with top-seeded and heavily favored Catholic Memorial. The loser falls into the Division 1 North bracket as the top seed and will skate against the Matignon-St. Mary's winner in Saturday's quarterfinals.
Back with more from the Chelmsford Forum this evening.
Several reporters and editors contribute updates, news and analysis to the High School Sports Blog.
- Bob Holmes: A Reading resident (Go Rockets!) and Boston College graduate, Holmes is the Boston Globe High School Sports Editor. We remind you now that his weekly picks are often made in jest so everyone just calm down when he picks against Everett for 11 straight weeks. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeHolmes.
- Craig Larson: A native of West Springfield (Leo Durocher anyone? Tim Daggett?) and Curry College graduate (a proud Colonel!), Larson is the sports editor for the Globe's regional sections: South, West and North, as well as a frequent contributor on the college beat. Abington to Xaverian: it all starts with the schools. Have a compelling story idea? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeLars.
- Zuri Berry: Berry attended the same high school as sports legends O.J. Simpson and Joe DiMaggio. (Guess which one is his hero.) He's a South Boston resident (formerly of Eastie) and the editor of the High School Sports blog as well as the go-to-guy for everything high school sports on Boston.com. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GlobeSchools for all of the latest updates.
Then there are our winter correspondents:
- Emily McCarthy | @EmilyMcCahthy | BPS correspondent
- Jake Fischer | @GlobeFischer | Boys basketball
- Michelle Fenelon | @michfenelon | Girls basketball
- Andrew MacDougall | @Andy_MacDougall | Boys hockey
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Girls hockey
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