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Mass Boys HS Hockey – Division 1 Top 20: Pope Francis The Early Choice; Natick, Woburn Ready For Big Seasons

Massachusetts Boys D1 Top 20

1Pope Francis1652
2BC High15
3Catholic Memorial1086
6St. Mary's1382
7Austin Prep1086
12St. John's (S)1295
18St. John's Prep1465

There will be no State Tournaments. With teams playing only for league championships, those high-pressure non-league match-ups between elite programs that provide the measuring stick and the heartbeat of each season won’t take place. Framingham and Reading are on indefinite pause of their winter programs and it is unknown if they will be able to play at all, and Westford Academy has had its season cancelled. A handful of other programs are in a state of suspension, awaiting guidance.

Every club, it seems, is grateful for the opportunity to be on the ice, whether for practices and games, and the small slice of normalcy it provides. Here’s our early-season HNIB News Massachusetts Boys Division 1 Top 20.

No. 1 Pope Francis (16-5-2) – the division’s lone Independent this year – was declared a 1A co-champion when the onset of the pandemic wiped out Championship Weekend in March of 2020. They are an obvious choice as the division’s top club.

Ten forwards return, driven by dynamic sophomore Ryan Leonard, whose memorable freshman campaign resulted in 28 goals. Senior goalie Ben Zaranek, a four-year regular, returns for his final campaign. The goal for coach Brian Foley, regardless of how many times PF is on the ice, is to continue to build upon the foundation “that is Pope Francis hockey.”

No. 2 BC High (15-5-1) won the 2018 and 2019 1A titles before getting bounced in last year’s semifinals. The Eagles may not be quite as offensively gifted as they have been in recent years. Neither should they be overlooked. The addition of St. John’s of Shrewsbury deepens the state’s premier league but coach John Flaherty says the Eagles have their sights set on the Catholic Conference crown behind senior goalie Andrew Webb (2.81 GAA).

Coach Larry Rooney welcomes back 14 players at No. 3 Catholic Memorial (10-8-6), last year’s Catholic Conference champion and 1A qualifier. Chief among them is junior goalie Dom Walecka, who looks to build on his stellar sophomore season.

Expect No. 4 Xaverian (13-6-4) of the Catholic Conference to adopt a more defensive stance this year under coach Dave Spinale. Goalies Kyle Harvey (2.10 GAA) and Kevin McGrath (2.40 GAA) both return.

It took one season for coach Bill LaCouture Jr. to stamp his imprint on No. 5 Natick (14-3-5). What this season holds for his alma mater remains to be seen but with four lines, three defensive pairs and returning league all-star junior goalie Luc Gagnon (1.35 GAA) all returning, LaCouture considers the Redhawks to be a 1A caliber club, an opportunity they missed by a single vote last season. A league title is a legitimate goal.

Expect No. 6 St. Mary’s (13-8-2) to contend for the Catholic Central Large. With the addition of Bishop Feehan, Spartans’ coach Mark Lee considers the league to be as deep as it’s ever been.

No. 7 Austin Prep (11-8-4) will be shooting for a fourth consecutive Catholic Central Large crown under coach Bill Pappas, who said, “something good is in the making – the chemistry feels right.”

No. 8 Woburn (10-7-4) announced itself with a season-opening 4-2 win against Arlington in the Middlesex Liberty Division. Seniors Jonathan Surrette (21-16-37) and Lance Anderson (15-10-25) are the big guns for Jim Duran’s Tanners.

No. 9 Arlington (19-1-4) saw its 21-game unbeaten streak go by the wayside against Woburn. Coach John Messuri’s Spy Ponders will lean on a core group returning from last year’s 1A co-champs as he integrates a host of younger players into the lineup.

No. 10 Braintree (11-6-3) shoots for the Bay State Herget Division title, driven by a dozen returning veterans.

No. 11 Hingham (12-9-3) sheds its Independent status for the first time in nearly 20 years and will rely on a veteran defense in its Patriot League debut.

Independent, No. 12 St. John’s of Shrewsbury (12-9-5) joins the Catholic Conference this winter. Veteran coach Mike Mead and the Pioneers are ready for the challenge. Eleven players return from last year’s Division One North Sectional finalist.

No. 13 Burlington (14-6-4) of the Middlesex Freedom have a lockdown defense built around goalie Joe Trabucco (1.94 GAA, .925 Save Pct., 3 SO).

No. 14 Belmont (14-5-5) of the Middlesex Liberty is the reigning North Sectional champion and Division One co-champion.

No, 15 Melrose (11-8-3) of the Middlesex Freedom boasts the elite trio of Brendan Fennell (22-29-51), Charley Haggerty (13-22-35) and Quinn McCarthy (14-16-30).

No. 16 Marshfield (11-7-4) also joins the Patriot League, led by senior goalie Aidan Healey (2.07 GAA, 6 SO).

No. 17 Waltham (13-6-1) of the Dual County One features junior goalie Jack Perry (2.25 GAA) a staple in the Hawks’ cage since his freshman year.

No. 18 St. John’s Prep (14-6-5) of the Catholic Conference was hit hard by graduation and will have many new faces in the lineup.

No. 19 Walpole (13-8-5) of the Bay State Herget is the defending South Sectional champion and Division One co-champion.

No. 20 Franklin (9-7-4) of the Hockomock will be its usual tough self.

Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Kevin joined HNIB in 1990 and is a Senior Writer and Director of the Northern New England and Mass/R.I. High School Division camps. A veteran editor/writer of 40 years in the print and digital mediums, he has edited and produced original content and coordinated production for local and global publications and websites. He holds degrees from Merrimack College and Boston University and won multiple industry awards as Sports Editor of The Daily News of Newburyport and News Editor of The Amesbury News. He is the 2016 recipient of the North Shore Lifetime Commitment From the Community award presented by Moynihan Lumber and a 2017 Newburyport High School Wall of Fame inductee. He resides with his family in Portsmouth, NH. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @kdoyle40
Kevin Doyle
- 3 hours ago