‘8 Showcase’ spotlights girls’ hockey

Girls’ hockey will finally get a version of the boys’ Super 8 tournament with the inaugural 8 Showcase.

The event, with games Tuesday and Thursday, will be played at Pilgrim Arena in Hingham. Hingham, Lexington, Arlington Catholic, Woburn, St. Mary’s, Arlington, Acton-Boxboro, and Duxbury, the only Division 2 program, will be taking part.

“We [Duxbury and Hingham] have a friendly competitiveness, and [Hingham coach Tom Findley] knows I’m always ready to schedule big teams, so I leapt at it when I heard,” said Duxbury coach Friend Weiler.

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Weiler said Findley suggested the idea to him at the end of last season, and has been the brain behind the event.

“Any time you can get a tournament together at end of the year to get [the girls] ready for playoffs is wonderful. I’m an advocate for any high-end tournament and exposure,” said Weiler.

Weiler noted that with the growth of girls’ hockey, there was room for a tournament aside from the Cougar Classic. In 2001, the MIAA reported 947 girls participating in girls’ hockey. This season, that number is 2,053.

Findley has planted the seed for what he hopes to become an annual event, grabbing sponsors and prospective college coaches.

“Obviously, I said yes to Tom for the competitive nature of the tournament and the top teams competing,” said Maggie Taverna, who coaches defending Division 1 state champion Arlington Catholic. “The girls’ side could definitely use this. It would be nice to find a true state champion and this is a steppingstone to that, and I’m gracious for the opportunity.

Here’s a preview of the 8 Showcase matchups:

Tuesday

No. 11 Lexington vs. No. 9 Hingham, noon — The Minutemen (12-4-2) are coming off a 5-1 loss to Arlington Catholic on Saturday. However, we know the squad can compete after tieing Woburn, 3-3, on Jan. 30, led by Sara Lehman, Carolyn Avery, and Danielle Martin. Hingham (11-6-2) is 1-0-1 against common foe Arlington Catholic, delivering a 3-1 victory on Jan. 23 and tying, 1-1, on Jan. 26. It’s no secret Jane Freda is Hingham’s top weapon, with 27 goals and 14 assists. Pick: Hingham.

No. 3 Arlington Catholic vs. No. 1 Woburn, 2 p.m. — The Cougars (13-2-2) skated past St. Mary’s, 3-2, on Feb. 6, avenging a 4-1 loss this season. This matchup will be the ultimate test for the defending Division 1 state champions. The Cougars have the whole package, scoring 22 goals in the last four games, and with Megan Messuri in net. The junior has allowed only nine goals all season, for a 0.93 goals-against average. Woburn (15-0-3) has had a few blemishes as we near the end of the regular season, and a close call against Reading. However, the Tanners have one of the state’s best forwards, Kayla Smith, who not only reached the 200-point this season, but is one point of the state scoring lead (30 goals, 23 assists). She’s not the only star. Ashley Moran has 21 goals and 24 assists, and Courtney Davis has posted eight shutouts. Pick: Woburn.

No. 5 St. Mary’s vs. No. 2 Duxbury, 4 p.m. — St. Mary’s has impressed again this season at 14-3-2, with two scorer of more than 40 points — last season’s Globe Division 1 Player of the Year, Allison Butler, and Kaleigh Finigan. Prior to their 3-2 loss to Arlington Catholic Feb 6., the Spartans hadn’t lost since Dec. 22. Duxbury is the best in Division 2 at 16-1-1, with stellar netminder Rachel Myette (0.97 GAA). Hannah Murphy knows how to find the back of the net with 23 goals and 16 assists. Duxbury’s only loss was to Falmouth, and it avenged that with a 4-1 victory on Falmouth’s ice. Pick: Duxbury.

Arlington vs. No. 12 Acton-Boxboro, 6 p.m. — The Spy Ponders (10-8) are coming off a 4-0 loss to Reading. Shannon Hickey leads the team with 11 goals and nine assists. Acton-Boxboro (13-4-2) has arguably the state’s best goalie, Cali Loblundo, who has a 1.33 GAA and four shutouts. The Colonials have a plethora of scoring options, with seven players posting at least 20 points. Megan Barrett leads the team with 14 goals and 21 assists. Pick: Acton-Boxboro.

Thursday

No. 3 Arlington Catholic vs. No. 2 Duxbury, 12 p.m. — You could not have a better matchup. The defending Division 1 and 2 state champions finally meet, and the spotlight will be on Arlington Catholic’s Megan Messuri and Duxbury’s Rachel Myette, who both have GAAs under 1.00. Pick: Duxbury.

No. 5 St. Mary’s vs. No. 11 Lexington, 2 p.m. — The Spartans delivered a 7-0 victory over Lexington Jan. 7. Pick: St. Mary’s.

No. 1 Woburn vs. No. 12 Acton-Boxboro, 4 p.m. — For the past few years, Woburn has been stuck in the role of underdog, and now the Tanners have it all. Acton-Boxboro needs goalie Cali Loblundo to be at her best. Pick: Woburn.

Arlington vs. No. 9 Hingham, 6 p.m. — Jane Freda will test Arlington’s defense. Pick: Hingham.

Games of the week

No. 8 Canton at No. 9 Hingham, Mon., 6 p.m. — It is the first of three tests this week for Hingham. Jane Freda (24 goals) and the Harbormen (10-6-2) have struggled toward the end of their season, with their last big win against Arlington Catholic on Jan. 23, 3-1. Canton (15-2-1) is on a five-game winning streak. Meaghan McKenna leads the way with 28 goals and five assists.

No. 14 Norwood vs. No. 4 Falmouth, Tues., 3 p.m. — These squads square off in the Cape Cod Classic at the new Falmouth Arena. Mustangs (13-3-2) forwards Emily Kelly (28 goals, 18 assists) and Kacie Smith (29 goals, 15 assists) are going to have to be crafty against Falmouth netminder Madison Scavotto, who posts a 1.24 GAA.

No. 6 Wellesley at No. 4 Falmouth, Thurs., 3 p.m. — The Raiders are unbeaten at 14-0-3 and have a strong offense. Sophomore Meghan King and senior Erin Morton have been solid between the pipes, each posting above a .900 save percentage.

Correction: The original article included the wrong goalie for Acton-Boxborough. Acton-Boxborough’s starting goalie is Cali Loblundo.