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Western Mass. Preseason Top 10: Longmeadow, Westfield On Collision Course

Western Mass. Preseason Top 10

RankTeamPR*WLT
1Longmeadow1741
2Westfield1652
3East Longmeadow6140
4Minnechaug7112
5West Springfield1182
6Ludlow1254
7Easthampton1247
8Belchertown874
9Chicopee1245
10Chicopee Comp786

The Berry Division, which is composed of the region’s Division 3 teams, should be a two-team race.

It always is.

Longmeadow and Westfield remain as the teams to beat. Both are expected to reach the sectional final, which has been the case more often than not.

Longmeadow boasts the region’s top forward in Jack Barron. He has the ability to dominate a game and has been outstanding for the past three years.

But he won’t be able to do it alone and Longmeadow will need to find  offense from its newcomers. Goalie Max Loyuk improved steadily as the season progressed.

Longmeadow’s best game may have come against Shrewsbury during the regular season. The Colonials edged the Lancers, 2-1 in a game that could have gone either way.

But once again Westfield proved to the Longmeadow’s nemesis during the post-season. Westfield beat Longmeadow for the Western Mass. title last year.

Both teams were hit hard by graduation and both have some solid newcomers ready to take their place. Westfield has annually been the region’s best defensive teams and this year should be no different.

If there’s a sleeper in the Berry, it just might be East Longmeadow. The Spartans have a go-to goal scorer in Michael Trase.

Minnechaug should be improved. West Springfield was also hurt by graduation and may take a step back, while Agawam is hoping to show some improvement.

Reigning champion  Easthampton should be the team to beat in Division 3A with most of its players back. Belchertown could challenge them, while Chicopee and Chicopee Comp usually do well during the regular season, but have not been able to match that success in the playoffs.

Fran Sypek

Fran Sypek

Fran has covered hockey at all levels, NHL, AHL, junior, college and high school for the Springfield Republican from 1978-2013. His column "Hockey Talk'' appeared in the Sunday Republican. The hockey beat took him from Maine to Arizona in the United States and from Newfoundland to Alberta in Canada. Fran was the recipient of the Matthew Ryan Award for Outstanding Coverage of High School Hockey and the Janet McCormick Award from the Springfield Olympics. He then shifted from pros to college when the University of Massachusetts restored its program and joined Hockey East. Later, he continued covering the Boston Bruins and the Springfield Falcons. Fran's covered future NHL players from Western Massachusetts in Paul Fenton, Bob Kudelski, Rick Bennett and Bill Guerin. He is a member of the Bessone Award committee, which helps select the top high school hockey player in Western Mass. Fran was a goalie for Holyoke Community College in 1973-74 and graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1977. Fran is currently a free lance writer living in Bondsville, Mass and grew up in Chicopee, Mass, has visited all 50 states, and is an avid photographer.