March 11, 2011

MC dominance, St. Mary's loss highlight early rounds

By Jesse Connolly

New England Hockey Journal takes you around the state to get a snapshot of each of the Massachusetts high school tournaments, by division. Malden Catholic goaltender Patrick Young. (Dave Arnold Photography)

Super 8

Thanks to an 8-1 blowout victory on Tuesday, Malden Catholic has already punched its ticket to the semifinals of the Division 1A tournament, as it became the only team with two victories heading into the third and final round of play in Bracket 1.

With two teams coming out of Bracket 1, the second and final spot will be decided on Sunday afternoon. Hingham (0-2) will be taking on Central Catholic (1-1), while Malden Catholic will be up against Weymouth (1-1). Both Weymouth and Central Catholic have identical goal differentials (5 GF, 5 GA), so Sunday's action promises to be interesting.

In Bracket 2, the third round is simply a formality at this point. St. John's Prep (2-0) and BC High (2-0) have already locked up the two spots, and will go at it on Sunday at Tsongas Arena to determine their foe in the semifinals. That won't keep each team from pushing for a win, however, as neither squad wants to wind up on the losing end, a fate that would force the loser to clash with Malden Catholic in the semis.

Division 1 North

Top-seeded St. Mary's will be looking to run the table after beating up on Winchester 8-2 in the semifinals. Wakefield(10-6-4 during the regular season) stunned Billerica (10-2-8) in the other semifinals match with a 4-3 win in the shootout, and will take on St. Mary's in the finals on Saturday night at Chelmsford Forum.

Division 2 North

Chelmsford Forum will also play host to the Division 2 North finals, where Saugus (12-1-7) will square will be the heavy favorite going in against Tewksbury (14-5-1).

Saugus, which entered as the fourth seed in the 20-team tournament, had a pretty tough haul along the way. En route to the finals, it knocked off Bishop Fenwick (14-4-2) and then top-seeded Wilmington (16-2-2) with a shockingly decisive 5-1 victory in the semifinals.

Tewksbury, the sixth seed at the onset of play, dispatched Tewksburywith a hard-fought 1-0 win in the quarterfinals before a dominant 6-1 victory over Beverlyin the semis.

Division 3 North

The two competitors for the Division 3 North championship have been decided, and no one should be surprised to see who they are. Top-seeded Shawsheen and the No. 2 ranked Marblehead team will battle it out on Saturday night, as four of the top five squads advanced to the semifinals in the tournament.

Shawsheen (15-4-1) downed Lowell (11-7-2) in the quarterfinals before just barely squeaking by Wayland (13-6-1) in the semis. On the other side of the bracket, Marblehead (15-4-3) took down Latin Academy (12-8-0) with a 5-3 win before blowing out the third-seeded Dracut squad 5-1.

The two teams will square off at 5:40 p.m. at Chelmsford Forum on Saturday night.

Division 1 South

While 14 teams began play in the Division 1 South tournament, only four remain. Top-seeded Springfield Catholic downed Natick and will take on Duxbury, which dispatched Wellesley4-3 in the shootout, in the semis.

In the other semifinals match Barnstableand Marshfield-- who entered the tournament tied with a .750 winning percentage, tops among the group -- will meet at the Gallo Arena in Bourne on Friday night. Barnstabletook down Braintree 3-2 in overtime to reach the penultimate round, while Marshfield cruised to a 4-0 win over Norwoodin the quarterfinals.

Division 2 South

While many a favorite throughout the Bay State has had an easy go of it, such wasn't the case in Division 2 South. Top-seeded Mansfield (17-2-1) fell in the quarterfinals to Coyle and Cassidy (9-9-2) in a 2-1 overtime loss, while second-seeded Canton (15-3-2) suffered the same fate against Oliver Ames (9-8-4).

Plymouth South (12-7-1) earned a 3-1 victory over Coyle and Cassidy in the semis, and will take on Franklin (14-4-2) in the finals on Sunday afternoon.

Division 3 South

Top-seeded Bourne (18-2-0) lost in the opening round of its tournament, bowing out after a 5-3 loss to 17th-seeded Scituate. Scituate's run continued with a 4-1 win over Holliston in the quarterfinals, but it was cut down by Westwood (15-3-2) in the semis.

Westwood will take on Pembroke in the finals, a squad that has gone on an unbelievable run after a so-so regular season. Through its first four games of tournament play, Pembroke has beaten their opponents by a combined score of 30-2. It will look to put the finishing touch on their stretch of magnificent play on Sunday night in the championship.

Division 3 Central

Top-seeded Hudson (18-2-0) will enter finals of the Division 3 Central tournament as a heavy favorite over Wachusett (14-4-2). Hudsonbegan the six-team competition with a bye, and then beat up on Leominsterwith a 10-3 victory in the semifinals.

Wachusett downed Shrewsbury, 5-2, in the opening round before earning an upset win over No. 2 seed Marlboro (16-3-1). The two teams will battle it out for the championship at 8 p.m. at the DCU Center on Friday night.

Division 3A Central

Groton-Dunstable (17-2-1) will look to cap off a sensational season on Friday night at the DCU Center, as it takes on No. 2 seed Fitchburg/Monty Tech (14-5-1) in the Division 3A Central finals.

Groton-Dunstable was the only school to have a bye in the opening round of the seven-team tournament. It defeated Assabet/Maynard 5-1 in the semifinals.

Fitchburg/Monty Tech downed Lunenburg/Ayer (8-7-5) 3-0 in the quarterfinals before earning a convincing 4-0 victory over a more formidable foe in Littleton/Bromfield (10-4-6).

Division 3 West

With just four teams competing, second-seeded Westfield(12-5-3) already wrapped up a quick championship run in Division 3 West, defeating top-seeded Longmeadow (14-4-2) with a 2-1 overtime victory in the finals.

Division 3A West

Top-seeded Holyoke took the title after posting a dominant 18-1-1 record during the regular season.

After squeaking by Chicopee Comp (9-9-2) with a 4-2 win in the quarterfinals, Holyoke hammered fifth-seeded St. Mary of Westfield 7-1 in the semis before earning a 3-2 win over Agawam (15-4-1) in the finals.

Girls Division 1

For 100 straight games, literally no one could stop St. Mary's of Lynn (19-0-3). Entering its game against Hingham (16-4-2), few expected that the school's three-year run without a loss would come to an end. But, thanks to a 3-2 victory in overtime, Hingham is moving on to the semifinals, while St. Mary's heralded run is now history.

Hingham will take on Winthrop/Lynn (15-3-1) in the semifinals with a chance to play in the state finals on March 20 at TD Garden.

On the other side of the bracket, No. 2 seed Woburn (18-1-1) earned a 5-0 win over Westford Academyand a 3-1 victory over Lexingtonto reach the semis. There, it will take on No. 3 seed Acton-Boxboro (16-3-1), which has won its first two games of tournament play by a combined score of 11-2.

Girls Division 2

Action in Division 2 is also down to four teams, where three of the four top-seeded squads remain.

No. 1 Norwood (17-1-2) reached the semifinals thanks to back-to-back 4-1 wins over Winchester (9-9-2) and Sandwich (12-6-2). It will be opposed by Fontbonne Academy (13-2-5), which earned a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory over Walpole in the quarterfinals.

On the other side, Duxbury (17-3-0) has been nothing shy of dominant throughout its run. The No. 2 seed dispatched Natick 5-1 before beating up on Cantonwith a 7-0 rout.

Duxbury will take on Concord-Carlisle (11-8-1) for the chance to go to the state finals, as the 11th seed hopes to continue its string of surprising upsets.

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com.