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Massachusetts High School Hockey: 2016-17’s Top Prospects

It was a down year for high school hockey in Massachusetts. There was not one player committed to play Division I college hockey in the MIAA for the first time in a while.

This observer spent most of his time watching prep school hockey and midget hockey, but a concerted effort was made to see all of the top teams in Division 1 and several Division 2 teams throughout the state tournament.

Jim Clark of the Boston Herald does a terrific job compiling the All-Scholastic and Dream Team, which is a listing of the top players based purely on merit for this season. I’ll post a link to that when it becomes available, but for now, below is a listing of the top prospects in terms of future potential.

It will be an unpopular opinion, but very few high school hockey players in Massachusetts this season have the potential to play college hockey. The number of players in general from Massachusetts playing college hockey and in the NHL is dwindling, as shown in a recent tweet from Dave Breen, a former collegiate player at Merrimack.

The following are the three forwards, two defensemen and one goaltender who have the highest probability of playing Division I college hockey, followed by a few honorable mention candidates.

Forward - Sean Brown
#91 Central Catholic, Soph., Shoots Right, 11/22/00, 5-11/170

His offensive skill set is one of the best in the state, and he should get even better as he continues to add onto his frame. He has silky hands and a good first step. He’s not afraid to go into the dirty areas, throw his weight around or block shots. The only question is his inconsistency finishing against top teams in the state, but he’s a late ‘00 so that could come in the next few years.

Forward - Nick Cafarelli
#18 Austin Prep, Soph., Shoots Right, 12/30/01, 5-9/160

He has the best hockey IQ of any player this observer saw in Massachusetts high school hockey this winter. His passing ability and how he plays away from the puck are both impressive. He has the potential to grow into a nice two-way center who plays a complete, well-rounded game. His skating is fundamentally sound, but he lacks the necessary foot speed now, but he should gain that as he continues developing.

Forward - Aidan Connolly
#23 Marshfield, Soph., Shoots Left, 5/10/01, 5-11/145

He’s a creative offensive player who can generate scoring chances by using his motor and slick hands. He’s slippery and can maneuver his way around opposing defenders with his agility. He’s young obviously, but needs to bulk up in order to not get pushed off the puck as he continues developing. He’ll be playing prep hockey next winter.

Defense - Jagger Benson
#21 Malden Catholic, Soph., Shoots Right, 10/23/00, 6-1/150

He’s a tall, lanky blue liner who is still growing into his frame. He has good athletic ability and has good genes, including his father who played at Merrimack. He is a very good skater and can be a one-man breakout. He has good vision in transit and can join the rush. He has a good stick. Once he continues to bulk up and grow into his tall frame, he will be even better. If nitpicking, he needs to keep it simpler and pick his spots.

Defense - Mikey Adamson
#6 BC High, Fr., Shoots Left, 8/16/01, 5-7/150

He’s an undersized defenseman with good feet. He doesn’t have blazing speed, but he’s mobile and can move the puck. He’s confident and poised for his age and does a good job keeping pucks in at the point. He gets shots on net from the point as well. He’s someone who could be a puck-transporter, and he plays with a bit of a mean streak.

Goaltender - Matt Pasquale
#35 Central Catholic, Soph., Catches Left, 10/6/00, 6-1/150

His game really took off this year. He has good size, skates well and is sound fundamentally and positionally. He challenges shooters on top of the crease and is square to make saves look easy. He has good post-to-post push and can make the highlight reel save when the defense breaks down. He does a good job kicking rebounds to the corners. If there’s one negative, it’s his propensity to let up soft goals and he sometimes has difficulty tracking pucks. Overall, he’s the best goaltender in high school hockey in Massachusetts and has come a long way.

Honorable Mention: Forwards Will Winship (‘00 Soph., Central Catholic), Will Rinaldi (‘02 Fr., Lynnfield), Brian Carrabes (‘03 Fr., St. John’s Prep), Aidan Curran (‘01 Soph., Austin Prep) Thomas Kramer (‘00 Soph., BC High), Mike Tobin (‘00 Soph., Reading); Forward/Defenseman Riley Duran (‘01 Fr., Woburn); Defenseman Kyle Furey (‘02 Fr., Malden Catholic)