February 21, 2014

High School Journal: A playoff primer

By Matt Williams

The Malden Catholic Lancers knocked off Austin Prep for the Super 8 crown last season. (Photo: Shawn Hogan/Malden Catholic)

The Super 8 in Massachusetts is arguably the most prestigious high school hockey tournament in New England and it is certainly the most unique. With the seeding meeting set to select the 10 teams that will participate being heldSaturday morning, it's a good time to check in on the playoff procedures for the boys hockey clubs eying state titles in the New England states.

Massachusetts’ Super 8 is selected by committee vote. Six teams receive seeds, followed by four more that are seeded by record. Those four play each other (7 vs. 10, 8 vs. 9) in a single elimination game with the two winners advancing to the Super 8 and the two losers falling back to their respective tournament brackets.

The eight remaining teams play a best 2-out-3 series, with the four winners moving on to winner-take-all semi-finals and finals.

The prediction from here? Malden Catholic, BC High, Austin Prep, Springfield Cathedral, Catholic Memorial and Central Catholic are the top six. We're projecting Duxbury, Catholic Memorial, Arlington Catholic and Archbishop Williams as the play-ins. However, we'd keep an eye on St. Mary's Lynn, St. John's Shrewsbury, St. John's Prep and Milton as teams that could sneak in as well.

After that, Massachusetts is divided into Divisions (1, 2 and 3) and sections (North, South, Central, West) that each play out single-elimination tournaments. All seeds are by record, except the fall-back teams that lose from Super 8 play-ins. The tourneys proceed until the state finals, played at TD Garden in mid March.

In Vermont, the playoffs are set to begin this weekend. The Lake Division pairings are already out, with Stowe and Middlebury receiving byes in the quarterfinals and the rest of the 13-team field getting battling it out Friday and Saturday. The division final is scheduled for Thursday March 6 at the University of Vermont.

The Metro Division features nine teams, meaning only Spaulding and Rice play each other for the right to get into the quarterfinals. Champlain Valley is the top seed with a possible superb game between BF-St Albans and Essex set for the other semifinal if all the top seeds win in the quarters. The final would be played following the Lake Division game on March 6 at UVM in a championship doubleheader.

Maine also has two divisions, with Class A and Class B set to play their championship games on March 8. Both classes are also divided into East and West regions, with those regional finals schedules for March 4 and 5. The end of the boys hockey season in Maine comes Thursday this week, so the tournament seeds should be set with the any needed preliminary games scheduled for Saturday.

Rhode Island takes a few more weeks. The Ocean state boys hockey playoffs have three divisions, and the quarterfinals in each don't begin until March 7 with the finals to be played at Brown two weeks following the start of the tourneys.

Similarly, teams in Connecticut will continue fighting for seeding and qualification for the next two weeks. Tournament play begins in the Nutmeg State on March 10, with the championship games in all three divisions set to be played at Ingalls Rink on the campus of Yale University on March 21 and 22.

For New Hampshire, the regular season runs through March 1. There are three divisions with the playoffs following the completion of the season.

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