Mass. Division II Pre-Season Top 15

Gary Demopoulos
Gary Demopoulos has been covering prep school hockey for the HNIB News for over 30 years, and has been the editor of the HNIB News since 2005. A former sportswriter and news editor at the Woburn (MA) Daily Times Chronicle, he has been the HNIB News' key reporter for Mens Prep School hockey since 1988, as well as womens hockey, both at the prep school and high school levels. for almost 20 years. Gary also helps organize and oversee HNIB's many summer tournaments and festivals for scholastic players.

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4Oliver Ames1762
7Martha's Vineyard1651
11North Attleboro1372
14North Reading1181

To say that the landscape in Massachusetts Division II hockey has changed, would be an understatement as the puck is about to be dropped for the 2013-2014 season.

A new realignment by the MIAA has seen five of the premier Division II programs of the past several years, including Wilmington, winner of the last two Division II state titles, given Division I status, meaning come tournament time those clubs will now vie in Division I. With the move of the Wildcats, as well as Franklin and Mansfield from the Hockomock League, and Newburyport and Triton from the Cape Ann League, it leaves the door open for a handful of remaining teams to battle to see who will be on the Boston Garden ice come March.

Those teams will still compete in their respective leagues, but will be seeded in the Division I post-season tournament.

With a solid core returning from a team that lost just one regular season game last winter, HNIB News tabs Beverly (18-2-1) as its pre-season #1 team in Division II. The Panthers have a solid one-two scoring punch in seniors Connor Irving and Graham Doherty, as well as returning starter in goal in junior Tim Biarellli. A driving force will be the sting from a loss in the quarterfinal round of the post-season last winter to rival Danvers.

The MVC-Dual’s Tewksbury (14-4-1) begins the year at #2. A perennial power, the Redmen will look to keep the championship momentum going (Tewksbury’s football team recently won the Super Bowl). Ryan Petti is a top-flight scorer, and Kyle Paquette begins his third year as starter in goal.

With their Hockomock League rivals having moved up to Division I, #3 Canton (16-4-2) has set its sights on a big season. The Bulldogs will have to develop some scorers, as they lost a bulk of their offense.

Right behind is another of Canton’s league rivals, #4 Oliver Ames (17-6-2). The Tigers made a nice run in the D2 South sectional last season and return stellar goaltender Jimmy Tierney. OA will have a new coach, as Mark Homer moves over from King Philip.

#5 Winthrop (11-6-5) is capable of making some noise north of Boston. The Vikings have Chris Page back, welcome in new forward John Orlando, and also have all star goalie returning between the pipes in Ray Feeley.

A host of skaters return for #6 Lincoln-Sudbury (16-3-3). The Warriors are also under new management, with assistant Tom Pare taking over the head coaching reins.

Coming off its best regular season in several years, #7 Martha’s Vineyard (16-5-1) could be a team to watch this winter with a good group of returning talent.

#8 Danvers (13-7-4) reached the Division II North sectional final last winter and be sure that the rugged Northeast Conference schedule will have the Falcons ready for the post-season again. A strong senior class will lead the way.

Ready for a big step-up is #9 Peabody (7-12-2). The Tanners return 19 players from a team that beat Beverly, Winthrop and Danvers down the stretch last season.

#10 Coyle Cassidy (16-5-1) will battle with Martha’s Vineyard for supremacy in the Eastern Athletic Conference. The Warriors also have a new head coach, where Darrell Borges moves up from the assistant’s position.

Could this be the year for #11 North Attleboro (13-7-4)? The Red Rocketeers established themselves as a top program in D2 last winter and have some good scoring punch and a returning starter in goal in Matt Raposo.

Looking to make a huge step up and challenge in the Cape Ann League will be #12 Amesbury (8-10-2). A solid offense led by Tabor Smith and J.T. Chamberlain, and senior blueliner Zach Fitzgerald will key the Indians’ chances.

While losing some teams that moved up, Division II also gained some clubs, including #13 Medfield (18-2-1) of the Tri-Valley League and #15 Marblehead (18-6-0) of the Northeast Conference. Both have been Division III powers the past few years and look to continue their success in Division II. Sandwiched between them is #14 North Reading (11-8-1), backboned by senior goaltender Keith Linnane.

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