As Woburn coach Jim Duran said immediately following his team's win in the Super 8 play-in game against rival Burlington, this match-up is the epitome of "David vs. Goliath."
Woburn is a nice story with some good players, especially for this level, but the Tanners are going up against a juggernaut with six Division I commitments already and a few more likely in the future.
No. 1 Springfield Cathedral (20-0-2)
Brian Foley's team ran absolute roughshod over the majority of its schedule en route to an undefeated regular season. There is no denying the overwhelming talent advantage the Panthers have over the entire rest of the Super 8 field. Can Cathedral finally get over the hump and at least advance to the championship game after a few early exits in the tournament?
It's tough to pick just one, but UMass recruit John Leonard is the most skilled player on the roster. A '98, he is the son of a former Minutemen basketball assistant coach. He's gotten a lot bigger and stronger since last season and it has shown in his game.
He was good last year, but he's been absolutely dynamic this season. Leonard is good with the puck and can make some nice maneuvers to move around opposing defenders, but his best asset is his pro-ready shot. He gets it off quickly and with accuracy. It's a hard, heavy shot that will most likely find the net a time or two in this tournament.
There is no shortage of players more than capable of stepping up and scoring if Leonard is unable to. Linemates D.J. Petruzzelli and Cam Peritz each bring positive attributes to the line. Petruzzelli, a Quinnipiac commit, has good vision and is more of a grinder. He can go into the corners, dig pucks out and get them to Leonard. Peritz, a late '98, is small, quick and elusive.
The second line is star-studded as well. Providence commit Riley Prattson is the headliner of the group. The '99 sophomore has good hands and skill while his two linemates bring more of a power game. His older brother Zac, a LeMoyne lacrosse recruit, is a good penalty killer and can really grind. Zac has good size and can make a move or two like he did on the penalty kill against BC High earlier this season for a highlight goal. Holy Cross commit Pete Crinella has a mean streak and does a good job setting the tone with his physicality. He's strong and has a heavy shot. Look to find him camped out in the slot or looking to throw the body around especially if a Woburn player comes through the neutral zone with his head down.
He's on the third line, but pay close attention to very late '99 Devon Tongue. He's performed admirably when given the chance and he plays older than his age. He plays a heady game and he's this observers pick to be the next Panther player picked off by a Division I college.
Purple Blue Line
'99 sophomore Dan Petrick is the best defenseman on Foley's team. He's as rugged a kid as you'll find at his age. He isn't afraid to throw his weight around and he's not intimidated by anyone. He moves the puck well and can really quarterback the power play. He's gotten better in his own end since last season as well.
He plays his best when he keeps it relatively simple. His one weakness is when he tries to do too much, but the Northeastern commit is a strong defenseman with a good stick.
Big '96 senior defenseman Bryce Peritz is the team's number two defenseman. He can also move the puck and has his moments. Matt Cieboter and Cam Griffin are the team's third and fourth defenders.
Great Wall of Petruzzelli
Quinnipiac commit Keith Petruzzelli is the prototypical modern day netminder. He's big, plays the butterfly and just eats up pucks. He covers ground, he squares up to shooters and is very quiet in net. He's most likely the best '99 goaltender in the entire country.
No. 8 Woburn (16-2-4)
Woburn has been a team that has impressed this observer all season long. Jim Duran's team has only lost to St. John's Prep and a very good Burlington team while winning the Middlesex League Liberty Division with relative ease.
It's no easy task to be the man responsible for stopping Cathedral's explosive offense, but if there is one goaltender in public school hockey who is up for it, it is Woburn goaltender Sam Best. The sophomore has posted eight shutouts in his first season as the full-time starter after mostly riding the bench as a freshman.
The '98 is a little undersized, but he's quick and fundamentally sound. He does a good job getting down low and playing his angles. He has a good glove and covers up rebounds. His coach brags about the goaltender's love of the game and willingness to learn and try to get better.
This series will certainly be a great learning experience for Best, who will be peppered with shots throughout.
The Tanners had one of the better lines in public school hockey this winter in '99 sophomore Justin Alves and juniors Evan McDonald and Tim Doherty. Alves is a speedy two-way center with good vision while McDonald is a nice finisher with deceptive speed.
The top line was held off the scoreboard in the team's Super 8 play-in win, excluding Alves' empty net goal. Senior Joe Santullo is a player to watch for to add some secondary scoring for the Tanners.
As mentioned above, Woburn has shut out it's opponents eight times in 22 games this season. Best is a major reason for that, but the defense was solid for the most part in the always competitive Middlesex League. Junior Tyler Shaw is the steadiest defender, according to his coach. He was good Tuesday night, winning one-on-one battles, keeping Burlington to the perimeter and using his stick well for pokechecks.
Sophomore Connor Power will be paired with Shaw most times on the ice. Senior Nick Lissner had a nice game Tuesday against Burlington and is usually paired with junior Tim Concannon. Duran's team only runs out four blue liners so one possible worry is the defense getting worn out in the third period.
This observer picked up on Woburn early in the season and has really liked the Tanners, but it's just too much to ask for them to put up much of a fight against Cathedral. Panthers win 5-1 and 9-1.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior, high school and prep hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.