In what is always one of the best nights of the high school hockey season in Massachusetts, the 2016 MIAA Super 8 Play-in games take place Monday at the Chelmsford Forum.
No. 7 Arlington takes on No. 10 Hingham at 6 p.m. before No. 8 Reading and No. 9 Central Catholic square off in the nightcap at approximately 8 p.m.
For a second consecutive year, two teams from the Middlesex League will be in the play-in games. Last season, Woburn defeated Burlington in one game while Franklin edged Xaverian in the other.
No. 7 Arlington vs. No. 10 Hingham
The first game is a rematch of last Saturday's game at Matthews Arena between the two teams won by the Spy Ponders, 2-1. Kevin Ouellette and Peter Scheschareg scored for John Messuri's team in the Catherine Malatesta Memorial Game.
Arlington is a team that skates well across the board, but is led offensively by juniors John Piggott, Ouellette and Scheschareg. Messuri always gets the most out of his teams. Sophomore goaltender Jack Pinard made several key saves, including on second chance opportunities to preserve the win over Hingham.
The Harbormen, the defending Division 1 State Champions, undoubtedly played the toughest schedule of any public school team. Led by head coach Tony Messina, Hingham will knows what it takes to succeed in the post-season.
Hingham's offense centers around senior Billy McNally, who has had to shoulder much of the load after Matt Demelis (Northeastern) and Matt Egan left the program early to join the Boston Advantage 16U. Keep an eye on big freshman Gray Betts, who scored Hingham's lone goal in the game against Arlington.
The team's best player, defenseman Marc O'Rourke, is also an elite lacrosse player who has a scholarship offer to play collegiate lacrosse at Bryant University. O'Rourke is a mobile defenseman, who can bring the puck up ice in transition and quarterback the power play unit. Senior goaltender Matt Personeni has been reliable between the pipes.
No. 8 Reading vs. No. 9 Central Catholic
This is the more unknown match-up as the two teams didn't face each other in the regular season and the Raiders will have a vastly improved lineup than it had for much of the season.
Boston University commit Jake Wise is back from the Youth Olympic Games, in which the U.S. won Gold. '99 RW Cam Gendron is reportedly healthier than he has been all season. Two-thirds of the team's first line will make a big difference for Central Catholic in this game. Along with '00 Sean Brown, CC's top line will pose a serious threat each time it jumps over the boards against a Reading defense that has been up and down this season.
Reading has its fair share of marque players up front as well, led by Northeastern commit Matt Thomson. He's a true finisher who has a hard, accurate shot. He's very good at finding shooting lanes, getting open and using screens. Rockets head coach Mark Doherty has separated Thomson from Kevin and Michael Tobin to spread the wealth offensively. Kevin Tobin is a small, gritty player who gives it his all each shift and seems to come up with clutch goals. Michael Tobin, a '00, has a good offensive skill set and is a player college teams will be watching in the future.
Top Uncommitted Players to Watch
Cam Gendron, '99 RW, Central Catholic #91
Sean Brown, '00 LW, Central Catholic #71
Michael Tobin, '00 RW, Reading #19
Kevin Tobin, '98 RC, Reading #29
Gray Betts, '00 LW, Hingham #10
Marc O'Rourke, '99 LD, Hingham #6
John Pigott, '98 RC/RW, Arlington #8