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Central Mass. Preseason Top 10: With Shrewsbury Gone, Race is Wide-Open

Central Mass. Preseason Top 10

3North Middlesex8102

The best news for Central Mass. Division 3 teams is that they will no longer need to contend with Shrewsbury. The Colonials have moved on to become a Division 1 independent team. That should leave the Roy Conference, and Central Mass., up for grabs.

Algonquin, which boasts an outstanding goalie in Matthew Bogdanski, and North Middlesex are usually always in the mix.

But the team to watch is Wachusett.

The Mountaineers return 17 players, including junior captain Kevin Skagerlind, who scored 15 goals and should be even better this season. Wachusett has depth, speed and scoring punch.

The Roy teams should all have better records now that Shrewsbury is gone. But how those head-to-head battles play out should determine which squad emerges as the frontrunner.

One team that could be a darkhorse is Groton-Dunstable, which did not qualify for the tournament last season, but has a good nucleus coming back.

In the Quinn Conference, there may be as many as three teams which are capable of taking the title.

A sleeper could be Hudson, which has been building for the past several seasons. Marlborough and Auburn could also be in the mix.

Marlborough has speed and a solid core of upperclassmen who are tremendous leaders on and off the ice.

In Division  3A, Lunenburg/Ayer, the reigning champion, should be the team to beat in the Coughlin Conference.  Connor Viviano, who had 33 points, is expected to be a dominant scorer.

Worcester intends to build off last season’s success, but the Wildcats must overcome some key losses.

Charlie Farrah, who led his team with 37 points, should help keep Grafton in contention.

Northbridge is the team to watch in the Russell Conference with 12 players returning. Hopedale/Millis also returns most of its core players and should be a factor.

* Check out MassHSHockey.com for teams rosters, schedules and more!

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.