Springfield Cathedral retains the top spot in this week's SB Nation Massachusetts High School Hockey Power Rankings. There is an increasing divide between the top three teams and everyone else.
The holiday tournaments are over, but the big games aren't. Austin Prep and Central Catholic square off in a big non-league game Monday evening at Stoneham Arena (8 p.m.). The Catholic Conference has its first major showdown of the year between the top two teams on Tuesday with BC High hosting Malden Catholic at UMass Boston (5:15 p.m.).
|1. Springfield Cathedral||6-0-2||1||The Panthers padded their stats against two over-matched opponents last week. Brian Foley's team won't really get tested again for over a month. UMass recruit John Leonard continues to prove he's one of the elite '98s in New England with another hat trick.|
|2. BC High||6-0-1||2||The Eagles took care of business down in Connecticut and face their next stiff test, a Catholic Conference showdown with Malden Catholic Tuesday. '97 Kayser Raei had a nice four point tournament down in Bridgeport.|
|3. Malden Catholic||4-0-0||3||This observer has to admit to being wrong in the preseason. I wrote the Lancers off as being a step below BC High and Cathedral in the preseason, but after seeing MC three times, it's clear that John McLean's squad is right up there in the top tier.|
|4. Austin Prep||4-1-0||5||The Cougars rebounded from their setback against Malden Catholic with wins over St. John's Shrewsbury and Archbishop Williams. AP has more depth than expected. '97 Mike Egan has at least a goal in all but one game. Lou Finocchiaro's team battles Central Catholic in a big non-league showdown on Monday evening.|
|5. Xaverian||5-1-0||4||The Hawks took one on the chin New Year's Eve at Malden Catholic, but bounced back with a win over St. John's Prep. Dave Spinale's team will be carried by its goaltending and defense. The question will be whether it can produce enough offensively against the upper echelon of the Catholic Conference.|
|6. St. John's Prep||4-2-0||6||With the exception of the two games at the Pete Frates Classic the defense and goaltending have been superb. The question for Kristian Hanson's team will be whether or not the offense can produce consistently. The Eagles can add a little muscle to their Super 8 bid with a win over CM on Wednesday.|
|7. Central Catholic||4-2-0||7||No rest for the weary this week. The Raiders have a tough game Monday at Austin Prep and then face Hingham Wednesday night. It will be a good chance for Mike Jankowski's squad to prove they can stay with the big boys of the state.|
|8. Arlington Catholic||4-0-2||8||Dan Shine's team easily cruised past Bishop Fenwick and Lowell Catholic last week and is off until a big Catholic Central Conference Saturday showdown with Austin Prep. The Cougars have two lines that can skate with almost any team in the state.|
|9. Hingham||4-2-1||10||The line of Matt Egan, Matt Demelis and Billy McNally was at it again with a dominating performance in a 4-1 win over Catholic Memorial. The Harbormen are positioning themselves to be the top public school entrant in the Super 8.|
|10. Catholic Memorial||4-2-1||9||Catholic Memorial has been up and down this season, but got stymied last time out by a good Hingham squad. It's still difficult to get a good read on Bill Hanson's team. A good measuring point will be Wednesday's home contest against St. John's Prep.|
Division 1 Notes: The Middlesex League is once again the deepest league out of the public school entrants. Reading is having some trouble replacing goaltender Ian Lapham and forwards Jake Barbera and Mike Thomson, but the Rockets will be in the hunt come late February. Burlington has a really good top line and can skate with any team in the public school ranks. Melrose, Watertown, Arlington, Woburn and Winchester are also in the mix in the Middlesex League. Duxbury is looking good again and never count out Braintree, a team that finished really well last year. Wellesley is undefeated, albeit against a weak schedule.
Division 2 Notes: Winthrop seems to be the class of Division 2 North with its only loss coming against Division 1 Middlesex league contender Melrose. Tewksbury, the runner up in D2 North last winter, is off to a good start as well. The Redmen's only loss is to Division 1 Chelmsford. In the south, keep an eye on 6-0 Westwood, a team that has already upset defending D2 South champion Medfield.
Division 3 Notes: Defending champion Shrewsbury is once again going to be very good as is Norwell, the only team to knock off the Colonials this season.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.