Massachusetts Pre-season Division I Poll
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No. 1 Springfield Cathedral has been banging on the championship door for the past several seasons. All signs point to this being the year the reigning Catholic West champion Panthers break through.
Every player but one – including six NCAA Division One commits – returns from last year’s 1A semifinalist, led by seniors Peter Crinella (Holy Cross) and DJ Petruzzelli (Quinnipiac). Coach Brian Foley’s squad boasts an embarrassment of riches on offense, highly skilled defensemen, and one of the state’s very best young goaltenders in Keith Petruzzelli (Quinnipiac).
No. 2 Catholic Memorial is once again very much part of the conversation after a time spent on the periphery. Now in his 41st season, Hall of Fame coach Bill Hanson welcomes back one of his deepest, most experienced teams in several years. CM generated plenty of attention during a stellar first half a year ago before running into a second-half wall. Most of those players return.
Much like Cathedral, No. 3 B.C. High has been within reach of, but has fallen just short of the ultimate prize the past couple of seasons. While key personnel graduated from last season’s 1A semifinalist, an abundance of quality players return for Coach John Flaherty, including Pat Kramer (Merrimack) and Ryan Shea (Northeastern). The Eagles are strong across the board with exciting forwards, superb defensemen, and stellar goaltending.
No. 4 Malden Catholic, the four-time defending 1A champion, remains the elephant in the rink. The Lancers are seeking one for the thumb. While this team may not appear quite as deep as its predecessors, player like Northeastern-bound Matt Filipe still make it very dangerous. No program has played in more big games in recent years. Pressure always seems to bring out the Lancers’ best.
No. 5 Central Catholic is the consensus coaches’ pick to win the MVC-DCL crown. Coach Mike Jankowski’s club is seeking a seventh consecutive 1A berth and a dizzying array of firepower includes freshman Boston University commit Jake Wise of North Andover, one of the top ranked players in his age group in the U.S.
Defending South Sectional champion No. 6 Braintree is the top public in the poll and returns an experienced core that qualified for the program’s first Division 1A play-in game. Coach Dave Fasano’s Wamps are chasing a third consecutive Bay State Carey Division crown.
No. 7 Arlington Catholic is poised to challenge for both the Catholic Central Large crown and a 1A berth. Long-time coach Dan Shine said staying in the moment will be crucial for this team, which got ahead of itself at times last year. After a first-round North Sectional exit, AC returns a dozen seasoned seniors on a mission.
No. 8 Austin Prep lost several prime players to graduation and transfer from its back-to-back 1A finalists. Nevertheless, coach Lou Finnochiaro welcomes back a talented, detail-oriented group led by Cam Russo and Ryan McDonough that is fully capable of another deep March run.
No. 9 Xaverian is the fourth Catholic Conference club to crack the Top 10. Coach Dave Spinale will oversee one of the division’s more proficient offenses backed by a stout defense and emerging sophomore keeper Aidan Murphy.
Defending Division One State Champion No. 10 Reading again looms as the top Middlesex League team. The Rockets feature a blend of seasoned veterans led by standout defenseman Mike Seibold, and promising newcomers.
No. 11 St. John’s Prep returns a large group that picked up valuable experience last season and is shooting for a return to 1A play.
No. 12 Milton of the Bay State Herget is deep at forward and looking to better last year’s South quarterfinal showing.
No. 13 St. Mary’s of Lynn will be a factor in the Catholic Central Large. A strong nucleus returns from last year’s North quarterfinalist.
No 14 Weymouth out of the Bay State Carey projects to be one of the South’s premier defensive teams.
No. 15 Barnstable, the Old Colony League champion, welcomes back a large group from last year’s South finalist.
No. 16 Burlington (Middlesex Freedom), No. 17 Falmouth (Atlantic Coast), No. 18 Framingham (Bay State Carey), No. 19 Norwood (Bay State Herget) and No. 20 Franklin (Hockomock) complete the poll.
* Coming soon, Division 2 and EMass 3 polls, and Mass. Girls HS Division 1 and 2 polls.