The Super 8 committee has some difficult decisions to make come Feb. 23 when the tournament-bound teams are announced, but consider this your personal cheat sheet to what the decision-makers will be discussing.
Theres still more than two weeks of hockey left to play, but there are already several teams that are shoo-ins, with the rest still fighting to punch their ticket. Heres an in-depth look into the definite, probable and long shot bids for the 2013 Super 8 tournament.
Springfield Cathedral Panthers
Pros: The Panthers have taken down the likes of BC High back on Jan. 12, Archbishop Williams on Dec. 22 and destroyed most of their other opponents. Cathedral is undefeated, has just two ties and has scored 79 goals through 15 games. That comes out to an average of more than five goals per game. Its hard to beat a team when you have to score more than six goals on average to take it down.
Cons: Cathedral could use a few more big wins to solidify the No. 1 seed in the tournament, with one of its best chances to do so coming on the road against in its second meeting with BC High on Feb. 7. A season sweep of the Eagles would be huge for the Panthers and barring a loss against St. Johns Prep Feb. 16, all but ensure the tournaments No. 1 seed.
Games remaining: Feb. 7 at BC High, Feb. 9 vs. Mt. St. Charles Academy (RI), Feb. 14 at St. Johns (S), Feb. 16 vs. St. Johns Prep, Feb. 20 vs. Needham, Feb. 21 vs. St. Marys or Malden Catholic (tournament game)
St. Johns Prep
Pros: St. Johns Prep is close to clinching the Catholic Conference title with a 7-1 conference record and 13-2 record overall. The Eagles have been on a roll as of late, defeating Malden Catholic, BC High, Catholic Memorial, and Xaverian twice in their past six games. Upcoming games against Arlington Catholic Feb. 16 and the Cathedral game 10 days later are the biggest hurdles in the Preps way for the rest of the season. Regardless though, the team will in all likelihood finish either No. 1 or No. 2 in the Catholic Conference and thus make the tournament.
Cons: The Preps only real problem right now is the two losses, one of which came against BC High on Jan. 9. St. Johns did avenge that loss and defeat BC High in the second meeting on Jan. 26. What could derail one of the top two seeds for the Prep in the Super 8 would be a loss to either AC or Cathedral to end the year. As long as it finishes in the top two in the Catholic Conference though, the Prep will be skating in the tournament this season.
Games remaining: Feb. 6 at Arlington Catholic, Feb. 9 at St. Johns (S), Feb. 13 at Bishop Fenwick, Feb. 16 at Springfield Cathedral, Feb. 20 vs. Wakefield
Pros: The Eagles have one of the Commonwealths best goalies in Peter Cronin and top playmakers in Tom Besigner. Its not often you see Besigner end a game without an assist or goal and Cronin has only surrendered more than two goals three times this season. BC High is going to be in the Super 8 and will be one of the hardest teams to score against in the field.
Cons: The Eagles were the Globes top ranked team for some time earlier this season but theyve had some tough times since losing to Cathedral on Jan. 12. Coach John Flahertys team lost to the Prep and face off with the Panthers Feb. 7. BC High still has an outside chance at the Catholic Conference title and a top three seed in the Super 8 but it needs to get back on track starting against Cathedral at UMass-Boston this week.
Games Remaining: Feb. 7 vs. BC High, Feb. 13 at St. Marys Lynn, Feb. 16 vs. Duxbury (Cape Cod Classic) Feb. 22 at St. Johns (S)
Pros: First in the Middlesex League, recently crushed second place Winchester, 5-0, and has lost just one game this whole season. The Rockets have been doing their best to show the Massachusetts hockey scene theyre for real and its kind of hard to say theyre not right now.
Cons: Lost to BC High Dec. 29 which was one of Readings most notable opponents all season. They score plenty of goals with 61 this season but some of the Rockets opponents this season arent as strong. Reading can and should finish the season undefeated in the league though, which will be a big help seeding wise in the Super 8.
Games remaining: Feb. 4 vs. Burlington, Feb. 6 vs. Belmont, Feb. 9 at Arlington, Feb. 13 vs. Woburn, Feb. 16 at Wilmington.
Pros: Rallied to tie Cathedral on Jan. 21, 8-0-1 and first in the Merrimack Valley Conference with 63 goals on the year. As long as CC wraps up the MVC, expect to see them as one of the first names announced for the Super 8.
Cons: A win against Cathedral would have been much more impressive than a tie, but the rally in the third period helps make up for that. With several tough contests left on the schedule, itll be interesting to see how the Raiders wind out the season, which will end up determining when and who they play in the tournament.
Games remaining: Feb. 6 at Malden Catholic, Feb. 9 at Chelmsford, Feb. 13 vs. Waltham, Feb. 16 at Andover, Feb. 18 at Catholic Memorial.
Pros: The Cougars are fresh off a Feb. 2 win over Arlington Catholic, defeated Central Catholic Jan. 9 and tied CC in the second meeting. Whoever wins the Catholic Central League will be in the tournament. Austin Prep is tied with Archbishop Williams so the selection of AP as a "definite" here could just as easily have been the Archies.
Cons: Prep doesn't have much in the ways of cons but the season may very well come down to the Feb. 13 game between the Bishops and Cougars. Unless either the aforementioned teams lose before then, that's where the Catholic Central League will be decided.
Games Remaining: Feb. 6 vs. Matignon, Feb. 9 at Andover, Feb. 13 vs. Archbishop Williams, Feb. 18 vs. Hingham (Cape Cod Classic)
Pros: The Knights started the season annihilating teams, outscoring their first three opponents 15-5 to start the year. Captains Liam Coughlin and Jack OHear are two of the best forwards you can ask for on offense. CM beat Malden Catholic, 7-4, on Jan. 8 and defeated three days prior to that contest.
Cons: CM has lost its mental edge of late, losing to MC, St. Johns Prep, BC High and Barnstable over its past five contests. The Barnstable loss doesnt count against the Knights overall record but it doesnt help win over any committee members either.
Games remaining: Feb. 9 vs. Xaverian, Feb. 16 at Braintree, Feb. 18 vs. Central Catholic, Feb. 20 at Fairfield College Prep (CT)
Pros: Leading the Carey Division in the Bay State Conference with a 10-2 league record and wins over Weymouth and Framingham. The 2011 Super 8 tournament saw two BSC teams taken which helps the Wamps chances of being invited to the dance.
Cons: Braintree lost to Framingham in the two teams' first meeting of the season on Jan. 5 along and picked up two losses to Division 2 Newburyport and Barnstable during the Cape Cod Freezeout tournament.
Games remaining: Feb. 6 at Needham, Feb. 9 vs. Weymouth, Feb. 13 vs. Walpole, Feb. 16 vs. Catholic Memorial, Feb. 19 vs. St. Peter Marian, Feb. 21 at Brockton
Pros: A history of Super 8 appearances and success in the tournament helps the Harbormen. The 11-5-1 record is good, not great, but the 2010 Super 8 champions have some notable games coming up to boost their record and public opinion.
Cons: Hingham took losses to almost every big name opponent this year, including St. Johns Prep, Malden Catholic, Catholic Memorial, Cathedral and tied with Reading.
Games remaining: Feb. 9 at Marshfield, Feb. 11 vs. Winchester, Feb. 16 vs. Austin Prep (Cape Cod Classic)
Pros: The Archies are tied with Austin Prep atop the Catholic Central Conference and are currently undefeated in league play, so feel free to consider them on the same level as AP. The Bishops crushed Arlington Catholic, 7-2, back on Jan. 26 after tying 1-1 earlier in the season. They also tied Austin Prep and beat Chelmsford in the Cape Cod Cup.
Cons: The Archies only chance to add another big win comes against Austin Prep on Feb. 13, though that could change if things go the Bishops way in the Cape Cod Classic.
Games remaining: Feb. 6 vs. Bishop Fenwick, Feb. 13 at Austin Prep, Feb. 16 vs. Waltham (Cape Cod Classic)
Pros: It might be a tad unfair to call the Red Raiders a long shot considering some of their big tournament wins. Barnstable beat Braintree in the Cape Cod Freezeout consolation game after losing to Cathedral in a shootout the round prior. They also defeated Catholic Memorial in the Nate Nickerson Invitational via shootout before defeating Falmouth (ME) to win the tournament.
Cons: Other than those wins and a tie against Duxbury to start the season, theres not a whole lot of tough competition on Barnstables record. Figuring in the Red Raiders have never been in the Super 8 is also something to consider.
Games remaining: Feb. 6 at Bridgewater-Raynham, Feb. 13 vs. Falmouth, Feb. 18 at Marshfield, Feb. 20 vs. Winchester (Cape Cod Hockey Showdown), Feb. 21 vs. Mansfield or Westfield (Cape Cod Hockey Showdown)
Pros: Division 2 Wilmington is the No. 1 team in the Middlesex Leagues Freedom division, with just one loss to a division foe all year. The defending Division 2 state champion Wildcats also pulled out a big win against Winchester Jan. 26 and lost to Malden Catholic by just one goal on Jan. 14. If a Division 2 team is to make the Super 8, it could be Wilmington. The schedule proves they can play with the big boys.
Cons: Being a Division 2 team is a concern in the committees eyes and maybe, just maybe, Wilmington would say "thanks, but no thanks" to a Super 8 invite. But wins over Burlington and Reading to end the season might change their minds.
Games remaining: Feb. 6 vs. Melrose, Feb. 9 vs. Wakefield, Feb. 13 at Burlington, Feb. 16 vs. Reading, Feb. 18 at Acton-Boxboro, Feb. 20 vs. Tewksbury
Pros: The Panthers have absolutely owned practically every team theyve played this season, with a 13-0-1 record and 70 goals scored so far. The only tie came against Newburyport on the road in a 0-0 stalemate.
Cons: If D2 is bad for Wilmington, then its worse for the Panthers. At least in the Wildcats case, theyve beat some big name teams like Winchester and they play in a Division 1 league. Beverly hasnt played any top teams this year which gives them little leverage when trying to compare its resume to Wilmingtons. A good Division 2 team, its hard to see Beverly getting, or wanting, a bid.
Games remaining: Feb. 9 at Winthrop, Feb. 13 vs. Danvers, Feb. 16 vs. Gloucester, Feb. 18 at Peabody, Feb. 20 at Lynnfield, Feb. 22 vs. Marblehead