January 27, 2012

Prep School Journal: At midpoint, Nobles at the head of the class

By Justin Churchill

One writer’s midseason rankings:

1. Noble and Greenough (15-1-1). This team is simply loaded with talent. Forwards Adam Gilmour and Colin Calnan are both producing well for the offense. Eighth-grader Colin White is also having an impressive season with a line of 11-16-27. Nobles has been tested by top teams within the ISL and looks to be the favorite heading into the playoffs.

2. Lawrence Academy (12-2-2). The Spartans have had a strong year led by Harvard-bound Devin Tringale. The forward has racked up 30 points in just 18 games this season. Recently the team came up with a big win over Governor’s and a tie against Nobles.

3. Phillips Exeter (14-1-2). Brian Hart and Matt Beattie are two incredible players and are leading Exeter to a very surprising season. The team has been tested frequently with big wins over the likes of Cushing and St. Paul's. Goaltender Nolan Daley has been strong all season. Look for the team to go far into the NEPSIHA playoffs.

 4. Kimball Union (14-2-2). Mike Levine has done well in his first year as coach. The team is loaded with Division 1 prospects and has preformed well early on. The team finished second in the Flood-Marr tournament in December and tied a very good Exeter team recently.

5. Albany Academy (14-2-0). The Cadets are continuing to build off of a very successful season last year. Senior Jeff Taylor is one of the top scoring defensemen in the league. The team also has a strong set of goaltenders that are splitting time. There should be a good chance that the team stays in top playoff contention given its fairly easy remaining schedule.

6. Salisbury School (13-3-0). The team has recovered well following two tough early-season loses to KUA and Albany. Head coach Andrew Will has a talented group of older players at his disposal. Defensemen Marc Biega has been crucial to the efforts of the team thus far. The senior will certainly end up at a Division 1 school next year, likely Harvard.

7. Belmont Hill (13-3-2). Being in such a strong conference, the Hillies may have a hard time maintaining such a good record. The team does have a good shot of making the Cockery/Stuart tournament, but cannot drop many more games. Keep an eye on goaltender David Cunningham, as the senior has had a huge season so far.

8. Avon Old Farms (12-4-1). Tough loses to Berkshire, St Paul's and Kent have dampened Avon's season thus far. A very tough Founders League schedule awaits the team over the next month. The team will have to face the likes of Salisbury, Westminster and Gunnery in February.

9. St. Paul's (11-5-0). After a great start, the Pelicans have fallen off the pace at midseason. Loses to Nobles, Exeter and Belmont Hill have pushed the team back in the rankings. Injuries have struck this team and it will need to have a strong finish with a remaining schedule full of tough conference opponents.

10. Cushing (11-5-2). It has been a very awkward year for the Penguins, as they have beaten very solid teams, but lost to mediocre ones. The amount of young talent on this team is immense, but it seems they might need more time to develop. Don't be surprised if Cushing moves up the rankings yet again.

11. Gunnery (15-4-1). Jarrid Privitera has sprung his team to the top of the rankings. The team will likely finish out of the top eight, but should do some damage in the playoffs.

12. Berkshire School (13-4-2). The Bears have put up wins against solid teams like Avon and St. Paul's this season. Offensive production has been spread out so far, as four players led the team with 15 points each.

13. South Kent (10-3-0). The record of South Kent may be deceiving. Being an independent school, the Cardinals have an easier schedule than many other teams. The team should hover around the top 15 for the rest of the season.

14. St. Sebastian’s (8-5-1). Danny O'Regan has brought a lot of offensive production for St. Seb's. The forward is committed to play for Jack Parker at Boston University in 2013. There is a lot of youth on this team, but the team could find its form before the season is over.

15. St. Mark's (12-6-1). The Lions deserve a spot in the top 15. Forward Mike Pontarelli is having an astounding year, as he has a scoring line of 38-21-59. The senior will be crucial to his team's success.

16. Choate (11-4-1). It has not been the most optimal season for the Wild Boars, but they still have a chance to turn things around. Ben Foster and Bill Seligman seem to be the team's biggest assets. A tough month within the Founders League awaits Choate.

17. Holderness (12-4-1). A strong start against weaker opponents had Holderness ranked highly, but a recent slump in form has dropped the team back. Don't expect them to rise that much further.

18. Brooks School (10-5-0). This team has done well this year, as they seem to be staying in the win column. There has been a few loses in which the team has hung close against top teams like St. Seb's and Belmont. Deserving of a top-20 spot.

19. Kent School (9-6-1). A team full of talent, but things have just not gone right so far. NHL prospect and Michigan recruit Boo Nieves has yet to kick-start his offensive production. Kent can make a run at the top of the table if Nieves can start to score, but it might be a little too late.

20. Westminster (10-7-0). There were high hopes for this team at the start of the year behind start goaltender Patrick Spano. The team seems to perform in spurts and they seem to be falling behind in the middle of the season.

Game of the Week

Kimball Union at Phillips Exeter

KUA fought back from a 2-0 deficit and tied the game courtesy of a Casey Miller goal late in the third period Wednesday. Brian Hart led Exeter with three points on the night.

Justin Churchill can be reached at feedback@hockeyjournal.com.