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The race for post-season playoff berths rachets up big-time this week as Boys Prep hockey heads into the final two weeks of the regular season.
Focus first and foremost is on which eight programs will qualify for the New England Elite Tournament. Once those teams are in place, the next eight Large Schools will be seeded for their tournament and same goes for the next eight Small Schools.
The championship games for all three tournaments will be held at St. Anselm College in Manchester, NH on Sunday, March 5th.
As far as the Elite Tournament goes, it looks like there could be a distinct Eastern flavor.
That group is led by #1 Kimball Union (27-3-1), ranked at the top again this week in this latest HNIB News Boys Prep Top 15. The Wildcats were tied by Andover (3-3), then responded with wins over New Hampton (6-2) and Holderness (4-0). KUA can’t overlook Proctor on Wednesday, and will face Cushing on Saturday.
#2 Dexter (18-3-2) also had a tie, a 3-3 standoff with Tabor. Dexter also needed a miracle comeback to beat New Hampton 6-5 after trailing by three goals late in the third period. Berwick (Wednesday) and Winchendon (Friday) are this week’s opponents.
Rivers (19-4-2) is back at #3 after a week that produced wins over St. George’s (5-0) and Roxbury Latin (4-1) to wrap up the Eberhart Division. The Red Wings still have St. Mark’s (Wednesday) and Middlesex (Saturday).
#4 Lawrence Academy (16-4-2) had a signature win over Thayer (4-2), its second win over the Tigers this year, but then fell short against St. Sebastian’s (5-3). The Spartans get Governors Academy (Wednesday) and St. Mark’s (Saturday).
Phillips Exeter (20-5-0) moves up a spot after wins over Proctor (7-5), Hebron (4-1) and Choate (7-1). Northfield (Wednesday) and Deerfield (Saturday) will challenge the Big Red this week.
It was also a big win for Belmont Hill (17-6-4), which is now #6 after three consecutive shutout wins over St. Sebastian’s (1-0), Thayer (2-0) and BB&N (3-0). The Hillies will look to keep that momentum going and get into the Elite Tournament conversation against Milton (Wednesday) and Nobles (Friday).
#7 Salisbury (18-6-2) handled Taft (7-3), Loomis Chaffee (3-1) and Cushing (6-1) as the Knights look to crash the Elite party. They are now off until a Saturday date with Avon Old Farms.
Consecutive losses to Lawrence and Belmont Hill drops Thayer (17-7-0 to #8. The Tigers look to get back to winning ways when they battle Tabor (Wednesday), Milton Academy (Friday) and St. Paul’s (Saturday) all on the road.
#9 Avon Old Farms (12-5-3) had a pair of solid 3-2 wins over Gunnery and Deerfield as it hopes to have a shot at Elite Tournament play. This week, the Winged Beavers get Choate (Wednesday) and Pomfret (Sunday) around the key one with Salisbury.
#10 Gunnery (16-8-0) also fell to Brunswick (3-0). A four-game week lies ahead, with games against Canterbury (Monday), Lawrenceville (Wednesday), a return engagement with Brunswick (Friday) and then Northwood (Sunday).
Spots 11-15 are occupied this week by #11 Kent (10-5-3), #12 Loomis Chaffee (11-7-1), #13 Brunswick (14-7-4), #14 Albany Academy (18-6-4) and #15 New Hampton (15-9-3)