With the Super 8 field officially announced and without one clear-cut superpower among the teams, this could be the most competitive tournament in years. Let’s take a look at each team’s chances to take home the title and what players are likely to help them do so.
No. 1 St. John’s Prep (17-2-1)
Star player: Captain and forward Brian Pinho — The senior posted 36 points in the regular season with 12 goals and 24 assists, good for second overall in the Catholic Conference.
Starting goalie: Senior Billy Price — Statistically, Price was the best goalie in the Catholic Conference averaging just over a goal per game at 1.35 over almost 47 periods. To put those kinds of stats up in one of the state’s toughest conferences is nothing to sneeze at.
Prediction: The Eagles have one of the best offensive players and goalies in the tournament, but I don’t see them winning it all. Their only two losses come against both Central Catholic and BC High, both of which are in the tournament. Prep has shown brief moments of weakness and that will be exposed at some point in this tournament.
No. 2 Springfield Cathedral (6-1-4)
Star player: Sophomore forward Peter Crinella — The East Longmeadow native posted 37 points in the regular season on a team full of talented underclassmen like freshman Johnny Leonard and defenseman Bryce Peritz. Leonard and Peritz combined for 34 points, three less than Crinella.
Starting goalie: Junior John Liquori – When you average just fewer than two goals a game and have saved 315 shots on the year, chances are you’ve been a big part of your teams’ success like Liquori has. He’s a fine goalie and deserves to be mentioned among the top in the tournament.
Prediction: There’s no doubting that the Panthers are a legit contender for the title but the slip up against Malden Catholic and some really close calls with BC High among others is worth noting. BC High drew to a 2-2 tie with Cathedral in the two teams’ second meeting after the Panthers edged out a 3-2 victory at home on Jan. 12. Central Catholic also drew to a 3-3 tie with Cathedral in a game where the Raiders controlled the first two periods. There’s a very good chance Cathedral makes the finals, but the Panthers won’t take home the title.
No. 3 BC High (14-3-3)
Star player: Junior forward Tom Besigner — You can’t go to a BC High game without noticing how Besigner is the heart of the Eagles’ offense. He tallied 28 points in the regular season with nine goals and 19 assists.
Starting goalie: Senior Peter Cronin — Cronin might not have the stats to beat Billy Price in the Catholic Conference but he’s the most consistent. That’s not a knock against Price by any means, but the Eagles’ starter never gave up more than three goals in the regular season and is the best goalie in this year’s field.
Prediction: The Eagles have hung with some of the best teams in the state all season, defeating the St. John’s Prep 2-0 back on Jan. 8 as well as sweeping Catholic Memorial on the season. BC High has what it takes to win the tournament and is my pick to do so. Peter Cronin will be lights out as usual in goal and has proven his ability to shut down even the most potent offenses during the regular season. The benefit of the hot goalie will carry the Eagles in this tournament.
No. 4 Austin Prep (13-1-6)
Star player: Senior forward Nolan Vesey – The Cougars’ co-captain was about as balanced an offenseman as a coach could ask for on the stats sheet this season. Vesey scored 13 goals and recorded 11 assists for a total of 24 points. Vesey scored one of the nine goals Austin Prep tallied against Falmouth in the Cape Cod Classic.
Starting goalie: Sophomore Elijah Harris – Harris won’t be the most experienced goalie in the Super 8, but he did only give up an average of 2.09 goals per game. It’ll be interesting to see how the youngster handles the Super 8 spotlight.
Prediction: Austin Prep will take on Reading in the first round tournament and that should expose this team. The Rockets have a fast-paced attack and are deep on offense which will be trouble for Harris in net. The Cougars belong among the top six Super 8 teams but the pairing against Reading was not ideal for them.
No. 5 Reading (16-1-5)
Star player: Senior Rob Devaney — The Rockets put plenty of goals on the board with 82 in the regular season and a big help in that regard was Devaney. He had six goals and five assists in the season already by Jan. 13.
Starting goalie: Senior Evan Morelli – Morelli is a co-captain for a reason, he’s one of the lifebloods of the Rockets’ team and the experience he brings will come in handy for Reading.
Prediction: Reading finds itself in a matchup that should work out in its favor in the first round against Austin Prep. The Rockets should pull out that victory and are the best chance for a team without the word “Catholic’’ in its name to win the tournament.
No. 6 Catholic Memorial (12-6-2)
Star player: Senior forward Liam Coughlin – There’s really not a question who leads the Knights on offense if you are familiar with coach Bill Hanson’s squad. Co-captain Coughlin has been one a huge part of what CM does offensively for some years now and that’s not hard to see when you factor in his 39 points on the regular season.
Starting goalie: Freshman Brendan Collett – CM has the tournament’s youngest starting goalie and that inexperience has troubled the team at times this year. The growing pains of a young player is a natural thing on the freshman level, but Collett can’t be going through those pains when he takes the ice against BC High in the first round.
Prediction: It was a valiant effort by the Knights to salvage their season and rally into this year’s Super 8, but they will not make it out of the first round. Playing BC High for the third time won’t produce a different result than the previous two losses CM suffered against the Eagles in the regular season.
No. 8 Central Catholic (13-5-3)
Star player: Junior forward Lloyd Hayes – Hayes and fellow offenseman Corey Webber were two of four forwards selected to the Merrimack Valley/Dual County All-Conference team this year. It’s safe to say Central Catholic has a formidable attack and Hayes is the big reason that statement has validity.
Starting goalie: Senior Colin Soucy – Soucy is entering his final year donning the Raiders sweater and finished the regular season making the Merrimack Valley/Dual County All-Conference team along with teammates Hayes and Webber. His experience will come in handy against a Hingham team that netted 74 goals in the regular season.
Prediction: The Raiders shouldn’t have a problem knocking off the Harbormen in the play-in game Monday, but if they win that, they will play top-seed St. John’s Prep. The Eagles are just too complete a team to fall to Central Catholic in the first round of the tournament.
10. Malden Catholic (11-6-3)
Star player: Sophomore forward Ara Nazarian – Consider Nazarian Malden Catholic’s younger answer to CM’s Liam Coughlin. Nazarian totaled 31 point in just his second varsity year after a freshman season where he was a vital member of the Lancers’ championship team. He tallied a very balanced 16 goals and 15 assists for the Lancers.
Starting goalie: Senior Connor Maloney – Maloney was just as key to the Lancers winning their second-straight Super 8 last year as Nazarian, if not more so. He started every game last year for MC and has been one of the team’s veteran leaders here in 2013.
Prediction: Given the Lancers’ recent hot streak and a big win over Springfield Cathedral, Malden Catholic should be able to win a tough play-in bout with Archbishop Williams. Afterward, they will get a chance to play Springfield Cathedral again in the tournament’s first round. If the MC of the past month comes to pla,y they can defeat the Panthers. If the January-slump version of the Lancers shows up, it’ll be an easy win for their opponents.