In the first big Catholic Conference showdown of the year Malden Catholic visits BC High in a battle of the old throne trying to protect its guard on road soil. The Lancers, the four-time defending Super 8 Champions, visit the up-and-coming BC High Eagles who were the clear cut preseason favorites to win the league.
Despite losing high scoring forwards Ara Nazarian (UNH) and Tyler Sifferlen (UMass Lowell) to the USHL, John McLean's Lancers haven't missed a beat in the early going. MC has victories over New Jersey powerhouse Delbarton as well as Hingham, Austin Prep and Xaverian, all teams in the top 10 of the SB Nation's Massachusetts High School Hockey Power Rankings.
BC High is undefeated at 6-0-2, but the Eagles are clearly still trying to find an identity and their best hockey is still ahead of them. Playing a complete game has been difficult at times this season for John Flaherty's squad. BC High tied Springfield Cathedral, 2-2, in the Pete Frates Classic championship game before losing in a shootout in its biggest test so far.
Battle of 2015 vs. 2016 NHL Draft Prospects
The most intriguing individual matchup in this game pits two Northeastern commits, Malden Catholic junior center Matt Filipe up against BC High junior defenseman Ryan Shea.
Filipe, a 12/31/97, would be considered one of the best '98s in the country if he was born a day later, but as it is, he deserves recognition as a serious prospect for the 2016 NHL Draft. McLean aptly describes him as a man child out on the ice. He's a prototypical power forward, who earned a spot on the U.S. roster for the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament after his strong showing at the USA Hockey Select 17 Festival this summer.
Trying to contain Filipe will be Shea, one of the most poised puck-moving defenseman you'll ever see playing high school hockey. He's smooth, can skate well and has terrific puck skills. His defensive game isn't his strong point, but as is said, the best defense is sometimes a good offense. If Shea can help BC High keep possession and maintain the puck, it will keep the puck off Filipe's stick.
Most of the headlines go to Shea, Filipe and BC High forward Pat Kramer, a Merrimack commit, but both teams have secondary scoring depth that will likely play a part in the outcome of this game.
Malden Catholic's big third line right wing Jack Adams has made drastic improvement on his skating over the offseason. He's got nice hands for a big guy (6-5) and has really learned to use his size to leverage opposing defenders.
'96 Jake Witkowski had a real nice game against Xaverian, scoring a goal and hitting the post on another flurry in the first period.
For BC High, its second line has really stepped up the recently. Centered by big center Tim Larocque, the line does a good job cycling the puck. He's flanked by Kayser Raei, who had four points in the tournament in Bridgeport last week, and sophomore Ian Murphy.
Puck drop is set for 5:15 p.m. at UMass Boston's Beacon Rink.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.