CMass Top 10 Poll: No. 2 Groton-Dunstable in top form

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

RankTeam[tooltip text="PR*" gravity="ne"]Previous Ranking[/tooltip]WLT
4North Middlesex4820

What a turnaround for No. 2 Groton-Dunstable. After not qualifying for the playoffs last season Groton-Dunstable is back on track. The Crusaders are off to an 8-1-1 start and are on the cusp of qualifying for the tournament.

Groton-Dunstable, one of three Central Mass. teams with only one loss, certainly made a statement last week with an impressive 4-1 victory over reigning Central Mass. Division 3 champion No. 4 North MIddlesex. The Crusaders currently sit atop the Roy Conference.

The team remains intent on proving last season was a fluke. They are playing strong two-way hockey and have become a difficult team to play against.

HS-Festival-Ad-300x150Balanced scoring has been a key. The Crusaders have received offensive production throughout their lineup with 13 players with one or more goals. Ryan Dodge and Chris Lattini top the Crusaders with six goals apiece. Eric Niemoller has popped in five goals, while Rob Hoare and Pat Keating each have four.

Offense is hardly the only factor for success. Groton-Dunstable owns an impressive 0.77 goals allowed per game average. Improved play in its own zone has sparked the surge. Nevin Tardif  has played the most games in goal and owns a .979 save percentage. Ben McEvoy is 4-0 and has yielded only one goal this season. Few teams can boast of such a good goaltending duo.

Groton-Dunstable followed up with a 4-1 triumph over  Marlborough. Ryan Dodge had two goals in that game. John Langan and Pat Keating also scored and McEvoy made nine saves.

No. 1 Shrewsbury shook off a scare from No. 6 Wachusett with a come-from-behind 5-4 win. Once again, the Colonials turned to a Quinlivan for a spark. Liam Quinlivan’s second goal of the game snapped a tie. Conall Persechino evened the score at four apiece early in the final period. Quinlivan struck for the game-winner 2:11 later. Shrewsbury, which clinched a postseason berth with the win, got a pair goals from Adam Twitchell. Derek DeSouza and James Abbott both celebrated their first career goals last week.

Wachusett is starting to find chemistry among its lines and has shown improvement. Coach Matt Lane has tweaked his lines and it has paid dividends. All three lines produced goals in a 4-1 win over Auburn. John Ruggiero leads the team with eight goals.

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