North Middlesex tops final Central Mass. poll

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

RankTeamPrevious RankingWLT
1North Middlesex11922
2Shrewsbury21750
3Algonquin31254
4Wachusett41192
5Leominster51281
6Nashoba61760
7Worcester71462
8Littleton81263
9Oakmont91272
10Northbridge101066

For most of the regular season, No. 1 North Middlesex was Avis to Shrewsbury’s Hertz. The Patriots may have been No. 2 most of the way, but they tried harder.

Marc Frederick North Middlesex
Marc Frederick
North Middlesex

After falling in a  late-season game with Shrewsbury, the Patriots were able to wrestle the top spot in the poll away from the Colonials. But the real test would come during the tournament. That’s when defense, which was North MIddlesex’ calling card, came up big.

North Middlesex advanced to the final after beating Wachusett, 2-1 before defeating Shrewsbury by the same score in the championship game. The season came to an end after a 5-2 loss to eventual state Division runner-up Agawam in the Central-West crossover.

“I’m proud of these kids,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “They had a great season.”

Led by the stellar goaltending of Marc Frederick, the Patriots were a tough team to play against during the post-season. Josh Miller, Ryan McCarthy and Justin Estrella gave the offense a boost.

No. 2 Shrewsbury dominated for most of the regular season before running into a hot North Middlesex team. The Colonials were not able to defend their state Division III title.

No. 3 Algonquin lost, 7-3 to Shrewsbury in the semifinals. No. 4 Wachusett saw its season end following a tough, one-goal loss to North Middlesex.

No. 5. Leominster suffered a 4-1 loss to Wachusett in the quarterfinals.

No. 6 Nashoba won the state Division 3A championship following a 4-2 win over Chicopee Comp. It was the program’s first state title and the Chieftains allowed only two postseason goals.

No. 7 Worcester beat Grafton, 5-1 and Fitchburg, 3-2 in a shootout to advance to the final. But it lost, 3-0, to Nashoba in the sectional final.

No. 8. LIttleton fell to Fitchburg, 4-0 in the quarterfinals and No. 9 Oakmont was edged, 3-2, by No. 10 Northbridge in the quarterfinals.

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