With just a few days left in the high school hockey regular season in Massachusetts, much of the Super 8 field is pretty well set except at the very top. Springfield Cathedral hosts Malden Catholic in the Cathedral Hockey Tournament at the Olympia in West Springfield today at 6:30 p.m. in a game that will likely decide the No. 1 seed.
Malden Catholic (15-0-2) and Springfield Cathedral (19-0-2) are the only two undefeated teams in the state. The winner of tonight's game will likely get the No. 1 seed with the loser falling into the No. 2 seed. It should be a heck of a hockey game between two very good teams.
Austin Prep (18-1-0) is locked into the No. 3 seed after its dismantling of BC High on Monday in the Buddy Ferreira Classic semifinals. Regardless of the outcome against Hingham in tonight's championship game (7 p.m.), Lou Finocchiaro's Cougars will be the No. 3 seed. AP's only loss came to Malden Catholic back on Dec. 28.
Despite some uninspired play down the stretch BC High (12-5-2) will be the No. 4 seed after losing 6-2 to Austin Prep Monday night. There still appears to be a significant gap between the top four teams and everyone else so John Flaherty's team will be favored here.
St. John's Prep (14-5-1) and Xaverian (14-5-1) will fall into the fifth and sixth spots when the selection committee meets on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. The two teams, with identical records, split their regular season series in the Catholic Conference and each could stake a claim to the No. 5 seed, but it will likely be Kristian Hanson's Eagles with the upper hand thanks to a six-game winning streak to end the regular season.
As long as Burlington (15-1-3) doesn't falter in its final two games (Framingham and Arlington), the Red Devils will likely get the No. 7 seed. The Middlesex League is always looked upon favorably and Bob Conceison's team has't lost since Dec. 20, a 2-1 setback against Woburn.
Central Catholic (15-5-2), champions Dual County/Merrimack Valley, is a virtual lock to make the tournament, but will have to advance via a play-in game as most likely the No. 8 seed. Led by freshman sensation Jake Wise, a BU recruit, the Raiders' best wins are against Hingham and Catholic Memorial. Mike Jankowski's team struggled against the upper echelon of the state, including a 10-1 drubbing at the hands of Springfield Cathedral.
Hingham (11-8-1) played a murderers' row of a schedule and was inconsistent at times, but it could certainly be argued that the Harbormen are the best public school team in the state, on paper. Tony Messina's team has a shot tonight, against Austin Prep, in the Buddy Ferreira Classic championship game to solidify its spot in the Super 8.
Due to an upset, Franklin (15-2-3) won't have a chance to beat a good Barnstable team in the final of tonight's Cape Cod Hockey Showdown. Instead the Panthers will play Westfield, but with a win, Chris Spillane's team should secure the No. 10 seed. Franklin is one of just two teams to tie the vaunted Cathedral team that just plowed over everyone in their path this season. The Panthers' only losses came to Malden Catholic and Rhode Island power house Bishop Hendricken.
Outside looking in
Thanks to a dominating win over Milton last night, Woburn (14-2-4) has a slim chance to make it into the Super 8. Unfortunately for the Tanners, their win against Burlington came early in the season and their loss was late in the season, so that's what the committee will remember. Jim Duran's team does have champions of the Middlesex League Liberty Division on its resume.
With Wednesday night's 3-1 loss to St. John's Prep, Braintree (9-4-6) all but officially saw its Super 8 chances come to an end, but the Bay State Carey Division champs are a much better public school team than given credit for. Dave Fasano's team skates well and moves the puck quickly on the power play. The Wamps will be a tough out in the Division 1 South Tournament.
Any chance Barnstable (12-5-1) had at making the Super 8 went down the drain with consecutive losses this week to Milton and Westfield. The last of the MSHCA Super 8 watch list teams, Catholic Memorial (6-10-4), won't be participating in the postseason this season due to a sub-500 record.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.