Central Mass. Poll: No. 1 Shrewsbury the class of the region

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.

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Central Mass. Top 10 Poll

RankTeamPrevious RankingWLT
1Shrewsbury11330
2North Middlesex21102
3Algonquin3933
4Wachusett4751
5Oakmont5932
6Leominster6951
7Worcester81032
8Littleton7842
9Nashoba9951
10Grafton10871

No. 1 Shrewsbury (13-3-0) has not really been challenged in the region this season and easily qualified for the tournament. The Colonials are the favorite to win the Central Mass. championship and represent the region in the Division 3 State Tournament

Shrewsbury has outscored its opponents, 80-36. The Colonials’ losses came against EMass. D3 No. 1 Norwell, State D1 No. 1 Springfield Cathedral, and EMass. D3 No. 2 Newton South. Twins Dan and Jack Quinlivan have combined for 106 goals and 121 assists in 80 career games.

No. 2 North Middlesex (9-0-2) has qualified for the postseason tournament and is the only unbeaten team in Central Mass. North Middlesex has allowed 11 goals and pitched five shutouts in 11 games.

No. 3 Algonquin is undefeated in its last five games.  Matt Tozeski tops the Roy Conference in points (22).

There are less than two weeks remaining in the regular season and there are three-team races going on in Division 3A conferences. No. 8 Littleton, Northbridge, and No. 7 Worcester are in quite a battle in the Russell Conference, while No. 5 Oakmont has a narrow lead over No. 10 Grafton, Lunenburg and No. 9 Nashoba in the Coughlin Conference.

The Russell Conference remains tight. Littleton sits atop the Russell at 4-1-2, but it has played three more league games than Worcester (5-1-1) and four more than Northbridge (1-1-2).

Oakmont rebounded from a tough stretch and came away with 5-3 victory over Nashoba. Oakmont’s only league loss is to Grafton, which lost both its games with Nashoba. Meanwhile, the Spartans are 2-0 against the Chieftains. Grafton’s other loss was to Lunenburg, while Nashoba dropped a tough 1-0 decision to Fitchburg for its other loss.

Highlights

Marc Frederick North Middlesex
Marc Frederick
North Middlesex

– Special teams came up big for Nashoba, which scored two power-play goals in the third period to defeat Worcester, 4-1. Brad Colvin scored the key goal to give Nashoba a 3-1 lead. Daniel Kerble, Jack Carbonneau and Devyn Barrett also scored. Worcester suffered its first setback in nearly one month.

– North Middlesex scored twice during a 20-second span late in the second period and played shutdown defense in a 2-1 win over Groton-Dunstable. It extended its unbeaten streak to 12 and has only allowed 11 goals in those games. North Middlesex’s Marc Frederick made 25 saves.

– Gage Duteau scored two of Oakmont’s three third-period goals in a 5-3 victory over Nashoba. Oakmont overcame a 3-2 deficit.

– Brian Boulette’s breakaway goal wasn’t enough as Wachusett was edged by St. John’s 2-1.

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