Central Mass. Top 10: No. Middlesex vaults past Shrewsbury

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
1North Middlesex21712
2Shrewsbury11640
3Algonquin31244
4Wachusett41082
5Leominster61271
6Nashoba81471
7Worcester71352
8Littleton91253
9Oakmont51262
10NorthbridgeNR956

Division 3

Shrewsbury looked like a lock for the top seed in the Central Mass. Division III tournament. But a wild final week of the regular season changed things.

Once-beaten North Middlesex emerged as the top seed (the loss was to Shrewsbury) after the Colonials fell 5-3 to Algonquin. Shrewsbury had to settle for No. 2. Algonquin, Wachusett and Leominster round out the field.

Jack Quinlivan Shrewsbury
Jack Quinlivan
Shrewsbury

Still, the road to the title looks like it will go through Shrewsbury. The reigning Division 3 State Champs may have received a wake-up call in the Algonquin game and learned they will need to be at their best if they want to repeat. Ironically, they will face Algonquin in a CMass D3 semifinal on March 4th.

Marc Frederick North Middlesex
Marc Frederick
North Middlesex

The good news for the Colonials is that goaltender Shane Gorrie is back after missing 10 games due to a concussion. He posted a 4-0 shutout against North Middlesex in only his third game back and he could be a key for the Colonials.

Shrewsbury has allowed an average of only 2.33 goals per game. Up front, Jack Quinlivan (14- 25-39), Trevor Shea (19-17-36), Joe Buduo (13-20-33) give Shrewsbury plenty of scoring punch.

North Middlesex also earned a first-round bye and will play the winner of the Leominster/Wachusett quarterfinal on March 4. Goaltending will be the key for the Patriots. Marc Frederick owns a 1.02 goals against average.  Josh Miller, (18-17-35) and Ryan McCarthy (12-23-35) and Justin Estrella (11-24-35) will attempt to duplicate their regular season success during the postseason.

Algonguin will be led on offense by Matt Tozeski (15-22-37), Alex DiPadua (16-16-32) and Brian Ward (14-13-27).

Wachusett will count on offense from all of its lines. The Mountaineers are led by Brian Boulette and John Ruggiero.

Leominster will rely on defense for a strong playoff run. KJ Dowling, Ryan Leger, Marc Aveni and Zevyn Urraro anchor the blue line. Matt Williams had a goal and assist in the Blue Devils’ finale against Westboro.

Tournament Seeds

1. North Middlesex (17-1-2)

2. Shrewsbury (16-4-0)

3. Algonquin (12-4-4)

4. Oakmont (12-6-2)

5. Wachusett (10-8-2)

Division 3A

Nashoba earned the top seed. Bryce Chaput (16-12-28) sparks the offense. Jack Charbonneau is a solid, two-way player. The goaltending is in good hands with Charlie Lamplough (0.86 GAA).

Worcester – which slipped a bit down the stretch – is led by Tristan Goodwin (12-18-30).

Littleton coach Howie Schneider doesn’t have that one dominant scorer, but instead will rely on scoring by committee and strong defense.

Oakmont boasts the leading scoring in Central Mass. in Kyle Klahre (16-44-60). Kyle Thibault (22-17-39) and Gage Duteau (19-13-32) can also score.

Fitchburg will be led by Noah Sarasin ( (14-20-34), Kyle Johnson and Gabe Lombard.

A hot goalie can mean a lot in the tournament and Northbridge has one in Nick Dame (1.21 GAA). Sam Luukko (18-11-29) leads the attack.

Seniors McKay Lewis, Matthew David, James Moran and Kevin Koloski drive Grafton. As sophomores, they helped Grafton to the Division 3A state final, where they lost, 3-1, to Agawam.

Tournament Seeds

1. Nashoba (14-6-0)

2. Worcester (13-5-2)

3. Littleton (12-5-3)

4. Oakmont (12-6-2)

5. Northbridge (9-5-6)

6. Fitchburg (11-9-0)

7. Grafton (10-9-1)

 

 

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