Mass. HS Boys Hockey: Division 4 Pre-Season Top 10: A New Era Begins With Realignment, Expansion Across State

Jim Clark
Jim Clark
Jim Clark joined Hockey Night in Boston in December 2019, and has covered high school hockey in Massachusetts for more than three decades. He also covers high school hockey and is a multiplatform editor for the Boston Globe, and previously spent two decades as high school hockey reporter at the Boston Herald, where he also served as the high schools editor from 2000-06. Clark was honored by the Mass. State Hockey Coaches Association with its William Stewart Award for contributions to the sport in May 2019, and also received the Joel Perlmutter Award for media coverage in 2006. A graduate of UMass, he also spent eight years as sports editor/reporter at the Sentinel & Enterprise in Fitchburg, and has extensively covered high school hockey in Central and Western Mass. as well as Connecticut.

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Mass Boys Division 4 Top 10

RankTeam*PRWLT
1Sandwich1212
2Winthrop823
3Norwell822
4Stoneham621
5Nantucket1231
6Greenfield1001
7Dedham232
8Shawsheen731
9Fitchburg/Monty Tech834
10Latin Academy631
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The MIAA’s new tournament format brings about many changes starting this season, but perhaps none bigger than the expansion to a fourth statewide division.

The move gives some of the state’s typically smaller programs – many of which have been battling the numbers game for years – a more level playing field. However, Division 4 also is a new landing spot for a handful of public programs from schools with smaller enrollments, and it’s not difficult to envision some of them making a major impact right out of the gate.

Start with Sandwich, which seriously pushed Falmouth for supremacy in the Cape & Islands last year and would have been a D2 contender had there been a postseason. The Blue Knights have plenty of talent back and appear to be the early team to beat, hence the No. 1 ranking.

It’s a similar story for No. 2 Winthrop, which long has been one of the better programs in the Northeastern Conference despite being one of the smallest public schools around. Count on the Vikings to be a major player again under Dale Dunbar.

The drop wasn’t as steep for No. 3 Norwell – just down a step from D3 – but the Clippers rolled through the South Shore League last season and appear to be the league favorite again.

The theme continues with No. 4 Stoneham, which traditionally is battle-tested in the tough Middlesex League and was a D2 state finalist as recently as 2018. The Spartans could be well position for another deep run.

No. 5 Nantucket won the Cape & Islands Lighthouse Division last winter, and while several key players have departed, the Whalers have more than enough talent back to compete.

No. 6 Greenfield was state champion in 2020 in Division 3A – the precursor to D4. One key thing to watch is how well the Western and Central Mass. teams integrate themselves into statewide competition this season.

Dedham is another team down from D2, and the No. 7 Marauders will be tournament-ready after competing in the Tri-Valley all season.

No. 8 Shawsheen split the Commonwealth championship last season, and the Rams will be trying to maintain their position atop the league all season.

As with Greenfield from the west, No. 9 Fitchburg/Monty Tech is poised for a big season in Central Mass. with an eye on making a run in the state tournament.

Rounding out the top 10 is Latin Academy, which already is off to a strong start to the season. The Dragons always were a factor in the North sectional, and will try to do the same in the new format.

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