All it took was one 1-0 loss to Malden Catholic for Springfield Cathedral to lose the No. 1 seed in this year’s Super 8 tournament. St. John’s Prep is taking that honor, with Cathedral taking No. 2 and BC High rounding out the top three seeds.
This is Prep’s 12th appearance in the 23-year history of the Super 8, but the first time it has received the No. 1 seed. The Eagles have been the No. 2 seed four times.
Unlike previous years, there will be no round-robin format. Instead, the Super 8 will have a Hockey East feel to it. The tournament’s first round will be a best-of-three format and single elimination the rest of the way.
The tournament’s fourth seed is Austin Prep, which earned the spot despite finishing runner-up in the Catholic Central Conference. The Cougars won the Cape Cod Classic last week by defeating Falmouth, 9-0, in the championship game.
The Reading Rockets took the fifth seed, but not without a discussion that included Catholic Memorial and Malden Catholic. Different committee members voted for all three, taking the fifth seed discussion to a second vote with the choice between CM and the Rockets. Reading ultimately edged the Knights, which left the latter with the sixth seed after an even more heated debate. This is CM’s first Super 8 appearance since 2010.
“We’re thrilled to be in the top six. Going in we felt relatively comfortable with being in the top six with the top three pretty much etched in stone. We thought we’d get four, five or six and any one of those would’ve been fine,’’ said Reading coach Mark Doherty.
The No. 6 spot was a Catholic Conference debate between Malden Catholic and CM. Knights coach Bill Hanson and Lancers coach John McLean stated their teams’ cases for the last guaranteed spot in the tournament.
“When you look at our last five games, we played all Division 1 schools and others considered for the Super 8 tournament,’’ Hanson argued.
McLean also brought up his team’s end-of-season performance, commenting on the Lancers’ 6-0 run to end the year. With Super 8 titles the last two years, history was on MC’s side. McLean was asked about his team’s Janaury struggles, when MC tallied its six losses.
“We had immaturity issues early on. The kids thought they could show up and put on the jersey and beat great teams,’’ McLean said.
The committee went with Hanson’s squad over McLean’s, giving CM the sixth spot. The 7-10 seeds were based on each team’s winning percentage. This gave Archbishop Williams the seventh seed, with Central Catholic taking No. 8, Hingham No. 9, and Malden Catholic rounding out the field at 10. Duxbury and Braintree were nominated for the field but didn’t make the cut.
Malden Catholic went from a guaranteed participant to a play-in matchup with Archbishop Williams Monday at 8 p.m. at Stoneham Arena. McLean wasn’t complaining.
“We’re excited to play Monday; we don’t want to sit for a week. I’m going to go home and start watching some video. We had to win every game [down the stretch] to get here, let’s keep it going,’’ said McLean.
Before MC and the Bishops take the ice Monday, Central Catholic and Hingham will get things started at 5:30 p.m. The winner will be the eighth seed in the Super 8 while the winner of MC vs. Archies will become the seventh seed. The losers drop into their respective Division 1 tournaments.
Prediction — This is one of the most wide-open Super 8 tournaments in recent memory and perhaps the first time the No. 10 seed has just as much likelihood to win as any other seed.
St. John’s Prep and Cathedral have been arguably two of the most consistent teams in the state and have played many of the other tournament members already this season. In fact, all the Super 8 teams own at least one victory over another Super 8 participant with the exception of Hingham. The 2010 Super 8 champion went 0-6-1 in the regular season against this year’s field. If there’s one team that has the highest mountain to climb toward a Super 8 title, it’s easily the Harbormen.
There may not be one heavy favorite to win the whole thing the way Malden Catholic was last season, but BC High wouldn’t be a bad pick. The Eagles are led by captain Peter Cronin, who has a strong claim to being the best goalie in the state. The senior didn’t give up more than three goals in a game all regular season and should be especially stingy in his final Super 8 tournament.
If Hingham does fall to Central Catholic at Stoneham Arena, that doesn’t automatically make it the favorite for the Division 1 South title. Duxbury, which tied Hingham in the regular season, and Braintree are going to be waiting for the Harbormen if Hingham falls Monday. The loser of Archbishop Williams and Malden Catholic will be another powerhouse to consider. Given that the South field could have Hingham and Archbishop Williams, the North Central Catholic and MC, the remaining Division 1 schools will keep a close eye on Monday’s results. Other schools to look for in the North include Chelmsford and Arlington Catholic.
Prediction — Braintree might not have gotten enough notice from the Super 8 decision-makers, but the Wamps have a strong chance of coming out as state champions. They’ve played Catholic Memorial, Barnstable, and Newburyport, and held each of the three to tight contests. Winning the Bay State Carey division was not a cakewalk either, having to best Framingham to do so.
The Beverly Panthers took the No. 1 seed in the North with an 18-1-1 regular-season record that included giving up just 20 goals all winter. But the Panthers stumbled against a weak Peabody team last week and that kind of effort in the tournament means a quick end. No. 3 seed Wilmington spent much of its season in the Globe Top 20 and had heavy Super 8 considerations earlier in the season, being named to the committee watch list. Then there is 2011 state champion Tewksbury, which defeated Franklin in the final. Franklin has been in the Division 2 state final each of the past two seasons and a Hockomock team has been in the state final each of the past four years.
Prediction — A Middlesex League-tested Wilmington lineup is the most complete team in the field with Tewksbury and Beverly coming in just behind the Wildcats. This is their tournament to lose.
Marblehead is seeded No. 2 in the North, after winning the state title as recently as 2011. If the Magicians can get past a strong Lowell team, they should win the North and face some tough competition in the South. Medfield edged rival Medway for the Tri-Valley League title and put together an 18-1-1 record, good enough to earn the No. 1 seed. Medway (15-2-3), led by senior forward Jack Kilty, will also make noise in the tournament and a rematch with Medfield in the final wouldn’t be a surprise.
Prediction — Medfield has arguably the best chance to capture the Division 3 title, with top-seeded Groton Dunstable of Central Mass. another name to keep in mind. Medfield will have a tough road if recent history holds true. Four of the past five seasons, a team outside Eastern Mass. has won the title, and the last time a Tri-Valley team won the tournament was in 2002, when Westwood took home the crown. But Medway and Medfield will be there at the end
. Medfield is the pick in part due to a 12-game unbeaten streak.