BOSTON -- With less than a month to go in the regular season, the race for Super 8 positioning is heating up, and it will do so in a big way on Saturday.
BC High, the clear number one in the state of Massachusetts this season, goes up against three-time defending champ Malden Catholic on Saturday at the Valley Forum in Malden in what should be a terrific high school hockey game.
With no further ado, let's take a look at the top teams in Massachusetts high school hockey heading into the stretch run.
1. BC High (11-0-3)
The Eagles are the only undefeated team left in Division I, and John Flaherty's team is absolutely loaded with talent from top to bottom on the roster. BC High is extremely well coached and has quite a few players who could see a college hockey roster some day, led by uncommitted sophomore defenseman Ryan Shea and Merrimack commit Pat Kramer.
2. Springfield Cathedral (11-2-3)
The Panthers came away with two impressive ties last week against BC High and Austin Prep, and have been throttling some of the lesser competition in Western Mass. Holy Cross commit Peter Crinella is a big, physical power forward who Paul Pearl and his staff jumped on early.
3. Malden Catholic (11-3-0)
The Lancers have three of the top forwards in the state with Ara Nazarian (UNH), Tyler Sifferlen (UMass Lowell) and recent Northeastern commit Matt Filipe. MC lacks the depth and discipline of some of the other top teams in the state, but it's hard to count out the three-time defending champs.
4. Catholic Memorial (9-3-2)
This isn't the most talented team Bill Hanson has ever had in West Roxbury, but there are some good players, and not many holes throughout the lineup. Three sophomores, one at each position, are the top collegiate prospects on the Knights roster. Goaltender Brandon Collett, defenseman Tim Weinstein and forward Paul Hardiman should all see a Division I roster someday.
5. Austin Prep (9-2-4)
Lou Finnochiaro's team came one game short of a state title last season and will certainly be in the mix once again. The Cougars have two real good forwards in BU commit Bobo Carpenter and uncommitted Cam Russo, but the defense has been inconsistent in front of star goaltender Elijah Harris out to dry. One young blue liner who has started to emerge is JJ Layton, who has some size and the ability to start the transition.
6. Central Catholic (10-3-2)
Mark Jankowski's team came on strong in last season's Super 8. The Raiders don't have a roster with any player that sticks out as a sure fire Division I prospect, but the team skates hard and competes every night. Goaltender Colin Soucy has a tendency to play his best in big games. Senior Lloyd Hayes is a very good two-way forward who will key a successful tournament run.
7. St. Mary's (11-4-2)
Any discussion regarding the Spartans starts and ends with senior goaltender Bailey MacBurnie. He's a big goaltender who takes up a lot of the net and has a great glove. Mark Lee's teams always play a physical brand of hockey that should come in handy come tournament time. St. Mary's has tied Austin Prep twice, and has allowed just 12 goals in 11 games since the turn of the calendar year, including four shutouts.
8. Arlington Catholic (10-3-1)
Legendary long-time bench boss Dan Shine recently won his 500th game at the school. He has long been a fixture coaching summer teams in the HNIB as well. AC isn't the powerhouse it once was, but is enjoying a resurgence this season. The Cougars have a young team, especially offensively, where they are led by two juniors and two sophomores.
9. Winchester (7-3-5)
The Sachems have to do a better job of staying disciplined, but Matt Spang's team is the best of the bunch in the Middlesex League, perennially the top public school league in Massachusetts high school hockey. Senior forward Nolan Redler is the offensive catalyst and coud be a very good Division III player some day.
10. Burlington (8-1-6)
The defending Massachusetts Division I state champions haven't lost since the second game of the season against Reading, but Bob Conceison's team has six ties during that stretch as well. Senior captains Joe Scali and Adam Crowley are the leaders of a team that could make another deep run in the Division I tournament.
Honorable Mention: Barnstable (9-3-3), St. John's Shrewsbury (9-4-3), and Beverly * (15-0-1)
* Denotes Division II
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Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.