Established 1996
 
 

2/24/07

Brandwene Steps Down at NMH

Citing a desire to move to Connecticut to be closer to his family, Northfield-Mt. Hermon  head coach Josh Brandwene stepped down as head coach after today’s game, another loss for the Hoggers, who finished the season 6-24-1.

Brandwene coached and taught at the school for three years. “My decision to leave NMH has been a difficult one,” he said. “My family needs are most important, and relocating farther south in New England is the top priority for us at this time.”

Replacing Brandwene will be be current NMH AD Tom Pratt, a former defenseman for Jerry York at Bowling Green (class of ’87) who went on to play in the IHL and AHL.

Pratt, 41, a Calgary Flames draft pick, has served as a grad assistant at Bowling Green and as head coach at Div. III New England College in Henniker, NH from 1990-95. For the last 12 years the Lake Placid native has been at NMH, the last two years as AD and boys JV hockey coach.

”The cupboards are far from bare here at NMH,” Pratt said. “We have some good young talent returning, and we feel that this season is not indicative of the type of team we are capable of being next season. I am looking forward to it.”


Note:
 

Brandwene was scheduled to take over as NEPSIHA president when the term of current president Patrick Dennehy expires after this season. That, of course, won’t happen. Dennehy will be looking for someone else to take the position.



2/28/07

#1 Seeds KO’d in Prep Quarterfinals

Both #1 seeds in the New England prep quarterfinals went down to defeat today.

-- At Salisbury, Conn., South Kent, seeded #4 in the West, upended defending prep champion Salisbury, 3-1. Unheralded PG Karl Mauhs scored a pair of second period goals to wipe out the 1-0 lead Salisbury carried into the second. Joe Pereira, who had an assist on Mauhs’ game-winning goal, added an insurance tally in the third. Ukrainian goaltender Sergiy Sorokolat kicked out 36 of 37 shots to earn the big win.

South Kent will face Belmont Hill, 3-1 winners over Lawrence Academy today, in a 3:30 pm semi on Saturday. The two schools are familiar with each other as they met twice during the regular season, with Belmont Hill winning both games, on Jan. 24 at Belmont, a 3-0 win; and on Feb. 10 at Trinity College, a 3-1 Belmont Hill win.

-- At Ashburnham, Mass., senior Mark Gormley of Milton, Mass. scored his first goal of the season and it was a biggie, a third period tally that gave Noble & Greenough, seeded #4 in the east, a 1-0 win over host Cushing. In the third period, Cushing poured it on in an attempt to come back, but Nobles’ senior goaltender John Muse came up big, kicking out all 21 shots he faced in the third, and 44 of 45 shots he faced in the game.

Nobles will face Avon Old Farms in a 6:00 pm semi on Saturday. The two teams did not meet during the regular season.

In Div. II, both Brunswick and Vermont Academy needed to go to overtime to advance, while Hoosac pulled out their win with 22 second left in regulation. Only Hebron, 4-0 winners over St. Mark’s, won handily.


Semifinals @ Salem, NH Sat. March 3:


Div. I
South Kent vs. Belmont Hill, 3:30 pm
Nobles vs. Avon Old Farms, 6:00 pm

Div. II
Brunswick vs. Hoosac, 11:00 am
Hebron vs. Vermont Academy, 1:15 pm


 


2/27/07

Div. II All-New England Team

Here is the 2006-07 Div. II All-New England Team, as voted by the coaches.

First Team

Forwards:
Matt Pedemonti - Hebron
Bryan Kriner - Portsmouth Abbey
Justin Letizia - Brunswick

Defensemen:
Sasha Romanenko - Hebron
Russ Franey - Berwick

Goaltender:
Jared Hay - Berwick


Second Team

Forwards:
Neil Ruffini - Proctor
Christian Oberbeck - Brunswick
Christian Ebert - Middlesex

Defensemen
Kyle Hardy - Hoosac
Mike Donnellan - Vermont

Goaltender:
Pete Lucchesi - Kent's Hill


 


2/27/07

Calling All Blackberries, Treos – and Plain Old Cell Phones

For this year’s quarterfinals, we are going to do what we have done for past two seasons, and post updates at the end of every period of every game, both Div. I and Div. II, both boys and girls.

We’re looking for volunteers to either text or phone in scores at the end of each period and, if possible, include goal scorers. This worked really well last year and, in pretty close to real time, we were able to bring updates to people across the country and around the globe.

If you’re willing to help out, please email cwarner@ushr.com and let us know which game you will be attending. We’ll send you back the info you need.

With your help, we can pull this project off again. It should be fun.


 


2/26/07

Wolter Makes His Pick

Boston Junior Bruins (EJHL) 5’10”, 180 lb. defenseman Jon Wolter has committed to Dartmouth College for next season.

Wolter, an 8/17/88 birthdate from New Jersey, played at the Westminster School, graduating last June.

“He’s had a great year,” said Peter Masters, his coach. “He missed five weeks early in the season with a broken hand which probably delayed the whole college process. He’s the sixth-leading scorer among defensemen in the league despite missing all that time. Last night he scored the game-winning goal against the Monarchs.”

In 33 games, Wolter, a right shot, has a 9-19-28 line.

”He’s a good defender,” said Masters, “but it’s his stick skills, decision-making with the puck, and innate ability to affect the game offensively that allow him to stand out.”

Wolter made his final decision from between Dartmouth, RPI, and Union.


 


2/26/07

“We’re a Good Story, not a Bad Story”

Hoosac School head coach Gary Rabinowitz says too much is being made out of the fact that forward Matthew David, a Montreal native, played a year of major junior.

“We cleared it all in November,” he said. “We did our research. We talked to Salisbury (about the Veltman case). Numerous coaches knew about the situation from Day One.”

Referring to USHR’s headline (“Hoosac Dodges a Bullet”), Rabinowitz says,  “I don’t understand how we ‘dodged a bullet’ when there was really no bullet to dodge.”

“There was no controversy at all,” he said. “It was never an issue.”

Rabinowitz said it only became an issue in recent days and that it started with an email from another Div. II team.

We asked Rabinowitz for the name of that team.

"I can’t do that,” he said. “I won’t stoop to that level.”

As for NEPSAC’s lack of a rule regarding major junior players, Rabinowitz said it’s not necessarily bad.

“It allows a kid to reassess and parents to reassess, and make the decision to go with education,” he said.

“Matt is a really good kid. He’s been a benefit to both the school community and the hockey team here. He will sit out a year and then have three years of college hockey starting as a sophomore. It’s really worked out for the kid.

“I don’t think,” Rabinowitz added, “that kids who’ve played major junior will become a trend in prep school hockey. I just don’t see that happening.”

Rabinowitz said he didn’t know if it was a coincidence or if it was a result of the USHR article, but, he said, “I got calls from three different colleges about David just this morning.”

Referring to Hoosac hockey, Rabinowitz said, ”We’re a good story, we’re not a bad story.”

“It’s been hard getting games. We’ve had to take five separate trips to Maine this season. The coaches drive the bus. We only had one NEPSIHA home game all season – last Wednesday against Vermont. We travel everywhere. Even to practice -- our home rink is in North Adams, a half hour drive each direction.”  

Hoosac, the #3 seed, will face off against #6 Middlesex in a Div. II quarterfinal match on Wednesday afternoon.


Note:

Yet another former major junior player who played prep hockey was Drew Bucktooth, an ’81 birthdate who went on to play for the Oshawa Generals (OHL) from ’97-99 and then took a PG year at Bridgton Academy to brush up on his academics before accepting a lacrosse scholarship to Syracuse University. Bucktooth, who grew up on the Onondaga reservation south of Syracuse, NY, was recruited by Jeff Jackson to be a member of the inaugural edition of the NTDP, but Bucktooth opted for major junior instead. When his hockey career didn’t develop as hoped, he returned to lacrosse.

Bucktooth, whose brother also played lacrosse at Syracuse, was one of the subjects of an excellent article by John Seabrook published in 1998 in the New Yorker. If you like lacrosse – hell, if you like sports – it’s a great read. Here’s the link:

New Yorker Magazine article -- Sept. 7, 1998


 


2/25/07 Updated

Playoff Seedings and Quarterfinal Matchups Announced

It’s official now. Here are the quarterfinal matchups for Wed. Feb. 28. The time and  locations for some of the Div. II games are still being worked out. 

Div. I :

South Kent (#4 West) @ Salisbury (#1 West), 3:30 pm
Lawrence Academy (#3 East) @ Belmont Hill (#2 East), 3:30 pm
The winners will faceoff at the Icenter in Salem, NH in semifinal play on Sat. March 3 at 3:30 pm.

Nobles (#4 East) @ Cushing (#1 East), 5:00 pm
Hotchkiss (#3 West) @ Avon Old Farms (#2 East), 3:30 pm
The winners will meet at the Icenter in Salem, NH in semifinal play on Sat. March 3 at 6:00 pm.

The Div. I championship game will be held at 3:00 pm on Sun. March 4, also in Salem, NH.

Div. II:

#7 Brunswick vs. #2 Proctor, TBA (possibly at St. Mark’s)
#6 Middlesex vs. #3 Hoosac, TBA (possibly at Deerfield or Eaglebrook)
The winners will meet at the Icenter in Salem, NH in a semifinal matchup on Sat. March 3 at 11:00 am. 

#8 St. Mark’s vs. #1 Hebron, 3:30 pm (at Phillips Exeter)
#5 St. George’s vs. #4 Vermont Academy, 3:30 pm (at Lawrence Academy)  
The winners will meet at the Icenter in Salem, NH in semifinal action on Sat. March 3 at 1:15 pm. 

The Div. II championship game will be held Sunday March 4 at 12:30 pm, also in Salem, NH.


Note:

As we mentioned last night, St. Mark’s and Brunswick tied for #7 and the tiebreakers resolved nothing. So a coin was flipped and Brunswick won the #7 seed... Quarterfinal games will be held at the higher-seeded schools unless the travel time exceeds two hours, in which case the game will be held at a neutral site somewhere between the two schools. It looks like all the games will be at neutral sites this year.


 


2/25/07 Updated

Hoosac Dodges a Bullet

The Hoosac School, which has played the current season with a former major junior player on the roster, has been investigated by NEPSIHA and NEPSAC in recent days.

No wording in NEPSAC bylaws could be found that specifically addressed major junior players in prep hockey so Hoosac will be allowed to play in the Div. II playoffs, and will be allowed to use the player in question, Matthew David.

David, a senior at Hoosac and an 8/29/88 birthdate, played as a sophomore at the Holderness School in 2004-05 for current Choate coach and NEPSIHA president Pat Dennehy, then left to return to his native Montreal where he played for the Victoriaville Tigers (QMJHL) last winter. In 67 games, the 6’3”, 200 lb. left wing had a 5-3-8 line in 67 games played.

This season, David landed at Hoosac, where he is the team’s second-leading scorer with a 28-13-41 line in 25 games. 

Hoosac, which was ineligible for the post-season last year due to jumping the gun on the season, is scheduled to face Middlesex in a quarterfinal on Wednesday afternoon.

Dennehy and Jim McNally, Rivers AD and president of NEPSAC, the governing body of prep athletics, studied the situation. “There are no written bylaws now,” Dennehy said. “But I’m sure there will be by the start of next season.”

NEPSIHA tries to follow NCAA rules when it comes to what happens on the ice, but defers to NEPSAC when it comes to eligibility issues.     

Note:

In 2001-02, Peter Veltman, a forward who had played two years of major junior with the North Bay Centennials (OHL) came to Salisbury as a senior. This was Dan Donato's first year as head coach and the team won the Founder's League and made it to the quarterfinals of the prep tournament. No one, at least as far as we can recall, made an issue of Veltman's having played major junior at the time, even though Veltman was a key player on the team. Veltman had a younger brother, Daryll, who also played hockey at Salisbury, and went on to play lacrosse at Hobart. Peter, now 23, bypassed college and is currently playing professional indoor lacrosse for the Arizona Sting (MLL). 

  


2/23/07

College Commitments

We got a little behind in our college commitments – things get a little busy this time of the year – but there have been some significant ones in the past couple of weeks.

First off, Taft goalie Andrew Margolin has committed to Boston College, where the Eagles staff hopes that he could be BC’s answer to John Curry who four years ago was an underrecruited Taft goalie and today is a legit Hobey Baker candidate.

Margolin, who will enter BC in the fall, will spend next year as backup to Cory Schneider, unless Schneider turns pro, in which case Margolin would be battling with  John Muse for playing time.

A Mahwah, NJ native, Margolin is in his third year at Taft, where he has a record of 36-10-7 with a 1.81 gaa and a .932 save percentage. Margolin, who was also recruited by Providence College, has family ties to BC, as he has a sister currently a sophomore there.

Margolin, 5’9” and 155 lbs., is a 2/11/89 birthdate. He was just named to the All-New England West Team.

***

New Hampshire Junior Monarchs 5’10”, 180 lb. LD Tom Pizzo has committed to Clarkson for the fall of ’07. A smooth-skating, physical defenseman, Pizzo, who is from Rochester, NY, is in his second year with the Monarchs. In 41 EJHL games, Pizzo, a 3/27/87 birthdate, has a 5-10-15 line.

Also committing to Clarkson is 6’1”, 195 lb. Salisbury RD Dan Reed. A senior from the Rochester suburb of Walworth, NY, Reed is in his second year at Salisbury. In 23 games, he has a 1-8-9 line. Reed is a 7/18/88 birthdate.

***

The University of Vermont has a pair of Josh’s coming on board – Nobles senior forward Josh Franklin and Boston Junior Bruins (and former Nobles) defenseman Josh Burrows.

Franklin, who was just named an All-New England East Honorable Mention, has been a steady hand for an injury-plagued Nobles team this season. A center and third-year varsity player, the Wrentham, Mass. native has a 21-13-34 line in 28 games. Central Scouting has him ranked #158 among North American skaters eligible for June’s NHL draft.

Franklin made his final pick from between UMass and Vermont.

Burrows, who left Nobles after his junior year of ’04-05 to join the Boston Junior Bruins (EJHL), has had a strong year with the Junior Bruins, posting a 6-15-21 line in 42 games. A resident of Franklin, Mass., Burrows, who is 6’0” and 190 lbs., is a 1/6/88 birthdate.

***

Former Andover and current Boston Junior Bruins forward J.P Martignetti has committed to Holy Cross.  Martignetti, a 6’2”, 220 lb. ’87 from Winchester, Mass., has a 5-11-16 line in 25 games.  Martignetti graduated from Andover in ’06.


  


2/23/07

Prep Race Down to the Wire

As we await the weekend’s games, there is much to be settled, at least in the West.  In the East, we don’t see any room for change.  Right now, Cushing is in the top spot, with Belmont Hill right behind.  Lawrence sits in 3rd and Nobles holds onto the last playoff berth.  Tabor, Exeter, and Governor’s are the remaining playoff-eligible teams, but they have no chance to advance.  We do not see a scenario that could change these rankings, so we project the following first round match-ups: Nobles at Cushing, and Lawrence at Belmont Hill.

In the West, however, things are different.  Salisbury currently occupies the top slot and Avon is right behind.  However, if Salisbury loses and Avon wins on Saturday, our calculations indicate that the two schools will flip-flop. In either case, Salisbury and Avon will be hosting quarterfinal playoff games Wednesday afternoon.

However, things are muddy when it comes to the 3rd and 4th spots.  Right now, South Kent holds a slight lead over Hotchkiss for 3rd.  A South Kent stumble and a Hotchkiss win could flip that.  However, if Winchendon wins (against South Kent) and gets to .500, South Kent’s two wins over Winchendon become quality wins and might move South Kent high enough to get past Hotchkiss overall, even with a loss this weekend.  Unless, that is, the Gunnery/South Kent game is made up on Sunday.  Then, well, we just don’t know!!!

Basically, South Kent has three avenues to getting knocked out of a playoff spot. There’s the possible Sunday makeup game against Gunnery – if things get that far. However, if they lose to Berkshire today (Friday), then they need to win their remaining games to secure a playoff spot.  Two losses and a Taft win could be a big problem for South Kent unless they get a big enough bump in the third criterion to offset a drop in the first two!  Sheesh!!!

Oh, by the way, don’t count Taft out yet.  Though the playoffs are a longshot for the Rhinos, Taft still has something to play for.  Taft’s task this weekend:  beat Hotchkiss!!!  They have no chance for anything without a win.  Even with a win, they will have to get help.

Also, as long as we’re on the subject of Taft, the Dec. 16 OT win against Belmont Hill in the Lawrenceville Tournament that was subsequently ruled a tie looms large over all of these calculations. By our figuring, if that game had been ruled a win – and Taft comes up with a win at home vs. Hotchkiss tomorrow – then Taft would be in the playoffs as the #4 team in the west. Of course, if they lose tomorrow, it will be a moot point – and then the Rhinos can kick themselves for not turning a couple of their many other ties into wins.

Here are the numbers:


East: 

1. Cushing  1+1+2 = 4
2. Belmont Hill  2+2+1 = 5
3. Lawrence  3+3+3 = 9
4. Nobles  5+4+4 = 13
5. Tabor  6+6+8 = 20

West: 

1. Salisbury  1+1+1 = 3
2. Avon Old Farms  2+2+1 = 5
3. South Kent  3+3+5 = 11
4. Hotchkiss  4+4+4 = 12
5. Taft  7+7+3 = 17


By Sunday, we’ll know, once and for all, who ended up where.  But. As you think about the possibilities, here are some things to ponder:

1.                  It would be unfortunate if the snowed out Andover at Cushing game is not made up and costs Belmont Hill a chance to climb into the top-seeded position. It would be a longshot at best, but it’s our feeling that games with playoff implications must be made up – on the final Sunday if necessary. The decision to play such games should not be discretionary because to allow that creates all sorts of room for strategic thinking when it comes to making that very decision. It threatens the integrity of the schedule. Andover didn’t want to make up the game because they already had the maximum allowable three games scheduled for the final week, but given that they could reach .500, that unplayed game could affect others. Maybe Exeter wins on Saturday against Andover, in which case it becomes a non-issue as far as the playoffs go – and gets Andover off the hook in the process.

2.                  Isn’t it ironic that, because of the 3rd criterion we talk about so much, that South Kent could conceivably be better off in the standings if it loses to Winchendon on Saturday?  NEPSIHA, please look closely at that 3rd criterion again.

3.                  Kent and Williston deserve some applause.  After having programs that looked dead a year or two ago, both have made the climb to respectability.  We hope they stay there.

4.                  Tabor, again, cost itself a shot at the playoffs because of a terrible start.  It lost some games it could have won and, as a result, dug a hole too deep to get out of. 

5.                  One of the toughest schedules played this year was Milton’s.  Their record is deceiving, because they played so many games against the best of the East.  They were generally competitive all year and beat Governor’s and Tabor, and they also tied Nobles. 

6.                  The stronger conference this year?  The West, and, if you look at the overall league strength and depth, it’s not even close. There’s just no argument. Is it like this every year?  No.  But in 2006-07, the West is clearly the best.


  


2/22/07

All-New England East Team Named

The coaches of the NEPSIHA East Division teams have picked their all-stars, and here they are:

All-New England East:

Defense:
Kevin McNamara, Belmont Hill, Sr.
David Warsofsky, Cushing, Jr.

Forwards:
Matt McCollem, Belmont Hill, Sr.
Broc Little, Cushing, Sr.
Brian Day, Governor's Academy, Sr.

Goalie:
John Muse, Nobles, Sr.

All-New England East Honorable Mention:

Defense:
Charlie Svoboda, Tabor, Sr.

Forwards:
Joe Smith, Andover, Sr.
Mike Doherty, Exeter, Sr.
Joe Whitney, Lawrence, Sr.
Josh Franklin, Nobles, Sr.

Goalie:
Matt Gedman, Belmont Hill, Sr.
Justin Gates, Lawrence, Sr.


 


2/19/07

Lumberjacks Top Dog in Div. II Poll

Hebron Academy, which has won four straight games against quality opponents – Proctor, Brunswick, Proctor, Hoosac – is #1 in this week’s USHR Div. II Prep Poll.

The season winds up this week with some big tilts: Vermont Academy @ Hoosac (Wed. 2/21); Pingree @ Berwick (Wed. 2/21); St. George’s @ St. Mark’s (Wed. 2/21); Brunswick @ Vermont Academy (Sat. 2/24); St. George’s @ Middlesex (Sat. 2/24); Pingree @ Hebron (Sat. 2/24).

USHR Div. II Prep Poll -- 2/19/07



2/19/07

Stretch Run

And down the stretch they come….the last week of the prep hockey season is here and we are in the final push for playoff positioning.  In the east, things look set to us.  There might be some scenario that would allow Exeter to climb into the fourth spot, but we don’t see it.  A loss this past weekend to Deerfield pretty much sealed the deal and assured Nobles and Lawrence the final two playoff spots.  There are still important games this week. While the choice of Cushing or Belmont Hill as a first round opponent may seems like choosing your poison, Lawrence can seal the third spot, we think, with wins this week.  Belmont Hill can’t catch Cushing, so Lawrence will get Belmont Hill as a first round opponent if it holds onto the third spot.  That would leave Nobles with the unenviable task of going to Cushing for a first round match.

In the west, things are unsettled.  Salisbury leaped past Avon Old Farms for the top seed in the west, but with a week to go, who knows if that will hold.  Hotchkiss holds onto the third spot, but with a tough week ahead, they could still miss the playoffs.  South Kent looks like a surer bet, mostly because they have an easier schedule this week.  Taft seems to be the only club with a shot to jump into the playoff picture, though that possibility was compromised by this afternoon’s loss to Deerfield (the numbers below were computed prior to today’s games.)  Gunnery is too far behind in the strength of schedule criterion to make a move.  But, Gunnery has a big role to play in this week’s race for the playoff finish line.  Currently, Gunnery sits just ahead of Taft in the winning percentage criteria.  If Taft could move ahead of Gunnery in those two areas, it would be in a great position to take advantage of any slippage by either South Kent or Hotchkiss. 

On Thursday, we will take a look at the situation going into the last weekend of the year.  There are still too many scenarios to run through.  Maybe after Wednesday’s games, we will be able to focus on a few of the more likely scenarios.  Then again, the way this season has gone….maybe not!

Here are the way things look in our (unofficial) standings:

East

1. Cushing (1+1+1) = 3
2. Belmont Hill (2+2+2) = 6
3. Lawrence (3+3+3) = 9
4. Nobles (5+4+4) = 13
5. Exeter (4+5+9) = 18

West

1. Salisbury (1+1+2) = 4
2. Avon Old Farms (2+2+1) = 5
3. Hotchkiss (3+3+4) = 10
4. South Kent (4+4+5) = 13
5. Taft (6+6+3) = 15


2/18/07

Cushing Still #1

Cushing Academy holds onto the top spot in this week’s USHR Div. I Prep Poll. With only one game vs. Div. I NEPSIHA opponents remaining (Holderness on Saturday), there’s a very good chance Cushing will finish the season undefeated in Div. I NEPSIHA play. (They did lose a game at the Lawrence-Groton Tournament to Culver.)

USHR Div. I Prep Poll – 2/18/07



2/17/07

All-West Team

The prep coaches in the West Division have named their all-star team, as well as an honorable mention team. 

It’s an expanded all-star team, as there were a lot of ties in the voting. 

Up front, the leading vote-getter was Gunnery forward Austin Smith. There was then a three-way tie for second between Avon’s Cam Atkinson and Nick Bonino, and Deerfield’s Alex Killorn.

On defense, the leading vote-getter was Westminster’s Tommy Cross. Salisbury’s Kevin Quick and Berkshire’s Kevin Millar tied for second.

In goal, Taft’s Andrew Margolin and Hotchkiss’ John Yanchek split the vote.

 

All-West Team

Forwards:
Austin Smith - Gunnery
Alex Killorn - Deerfield
Cam Atkinson - Avon
Nick Bonino - Avon

Defensemen:
Tommy Cross - Westminster
Kevin Quick - Salisbury
Kevin Millar- Berkshire

Goaltenders:
Andrew Margolin - Taft
John Yanchek - Hotchkiss


All-League Honorable Mention

(This consists of players who earned three or more votes.)

Forwards:
Michael Biega - Salisbury

Nick Pitsikoulis - Westminster
Brian Flynn - Pomfret

Defense:
David Earl- Westminster
Pasha Kozhokin - Canterbury

Goalie:
Sergei Sorokolat - South Kent 


Note:


The way the voting works is this: Each coach can nominate up to five of his own players. Once all the coaches have made their nominations, the list of names is sent out and each coach can vote for three forwards, two defensemen, and one goaltender. Coaches, however, are not allowed to vote for their own players. Out of over 60 nominated players, 37 players earned at least one vote from opposing coaches. Those who received at least three votes received honorable mentions.  


 


2/16/07

Spring Beantown Classic

This year’s Spring Beantown Classic will take place Wed.-Fri. March 21-23 at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Mass.

Invitations went out a couple of weeks ago.

There will be two groups – a draft division and a pre-draft division – with each group consisting of four teams.

The pre-draft division will consist of ‘90s and ‘91s, while the draft division will consist of ‘87s, ‘88s, and ‘89s.

On Wednesday, the schedule is light – a couple of draft division practices, and one pre-draft game. Kids who will be heading to the New England tryouts on Friday are all on Team #1 of the pre-draft division and they will be playing Wed. night and then twice more on Thursday, enabling them to get all three of their games in before Friday.

The big days are Thursday March 22 and Friday March 23. On Thursday, action starts at 1 pm, with the final game facing off at 9:10 pm. On Friday, the first game is again at 1 pm. The tournament’s final game faces off at 2:50 pm.


 


2/16/07

Eight Days to Go

This will be a quick update. Mother Nature trimmed the hockey schedule a bit this week but, with two weekends to go, things remain wide open for the final two spots in the west. In the east, those final two berths are Nobles’ and Lawrence’s to lose. Exeter can put pressure on those teams by continuing to win, but if Nobles and Lawrence do their parts, it probably won’t matter.

Here is the way things look heading into Friday’s games.

East

1.      Cushing (1+1+1) = 3
2.      Belmont Hill (2+2+2) = 6
3.      Nobles (4+3+4) = 11
4.      Lawrence (5+4+3) = 12
5.      Exeter (3+5+8) = 16

West

1.      Avon Old Farms (1+1+1) = 3
2.      Salisbury (2+2+2) = 6
3.      Hotchkiss (3+3+4) = 10
4.      South Kent (4+4+5) = 13
5.      Taft (7+7+3) = 17
6.      Gunnery (4+4+10) = 18
7.      Westminster (6+6+7) =19
8.      Choate (8+8+6) = 22

Hotchkiss is in better shape than South Kent. However, neither team can afford any slip-ups. The one imponderable in all of this is whether any teams will move above or below the .500 mark and affect the strength of schedule score for any of these teams in a meaningful way. In the west, look at Kent. Currently a game below .500, if Kent fails to pull back up to .500, virtually every team in the west will be affected by that third criterion. In the east, watch Governor Dummer, right at .500, as well as Andover and St. Paul’s (just below .500). Should GDA fall below the .500 mark or Andover and/or St. Paul’s shoot above it, things could change for those last two spots.

We’ll have a full update after this weekend’s games.



2/15/07

Make Benefit Glorious Nation

The biggest thumping of the year came a couple weeks back at the Asian Winter Games in Changchun, China. Maybe you heard about it, maybe you didn’t. At any rate, we’re playing catch-up on some stories here, so let us give you this final:

Kazakhstan 52, Thailand 1.

Kazakhstan scored 17 goals in the first period, 20 in the second, and 15 in the third.

They outshot Thailand, 91-7.

Thailand coach Michael Rolanti, an American who played nine games at RPI in the early ‘90s, said, “They are just an outstanding team,” adding, “I think it was a good game for us because we did not give up.” 

Indeed, Thailand’s goal came seven minutes into the third period.

The Kazakstan team was pretty much the same club that went to the Olympics last winter in Turin. Ranked 11th in the world, they also beat the United Arab Emirates, 38-0, and China, 17-1. But they were upset by Japan, 3-2, in the semis.



2/15/07

Bramalea Blues

On Thursday Jan. 25 the Bramalea Blues (Ontario Provincial League) were pounded by the Brampton Capitals, 19-1. They did a lousy job putting the loss behind them, as the next night they were blanked by Hamilton, 17-0. Those two games were the beginning of a ten-game stretch during which they were outscored 103-14.

The Provincial League have begun their playoffs -- and without Bramalea, which won exactly one of their 49 regular season games, finishing with a 1-45-1-2 record. Since their only win came back on September 27, they will enter next season with a 42-game winless streak going.

We suspect the team might have a slightly different look to it.



2/12/07

Hoosac Takes Over Top Spot in USHR Div. II Poll


The Hoosac School, with just one Div. II loss on the season (to Vermont Academy on Feb. 3), takes over the top spot in the USHR Div. II Prep Poll released today.

USHR Div. II Prep Poll -- Feb. 12


 

2/12/07

Riffle Steps Down at KUA; Long Takes Over

Gino Riffle, currently in his ninth year as head coach at Kimball Union, will be stepping down at the end of the current season, and assistant coach Eric Long will be taking over.

Long, who works in the KUA admissions office, graduated from St. Anselm College in 1994 and enjoyed an 11-year pro career in the AHL, ECHL, WCHL, and in Europe.

A Longmeadow, Mass. native, Long played for three years for head coach Gary Dineen on the Springfield Pics. And better tutors than Dineen are rare indeed.

Kimball Union has struggled for awhile. This year, the Wildcats record is 5-16-3.



2/12/07

Latest Playoff Update

What a difference a week makes! Last week, we were looking at the East standings and imagining a three-team battle for the last two spots.  Exeter was on the outside looking in, but their nose was right up against the window.  And now, Exeter has lost ground to Nobles and Lawrence.  The funny thing is, Exeter didn’t do anything to lose ground.  It won its mid week and  weekend games against Pingree and NMH.  It won them fairly decisively.  Yet, Exeter is now farther out of fourth than it was a week ago.  What happened?

We have been a broken record on this, but it is that third criterion—the strength of schedule criterion—that is hurting Exeter.  Based on NEPSIHA and Div. I winning percentages, Exeter is right there— third in the NEPSIHA ranking and fifth in the Div. I list.  But, because Exeter sits in 11th place in the third criterion—the so-called strength of schedule criterion—they have slipped farther away from the fourth and final playoff spot.

We’ll take a look at whether—and how much—the third criterion distorts things and whether a different—and arguably better—strength of schedule criterion would change things in the next week.  But, none of that matters to Exeter.  They need to keep winning, and they need some help.  And, it wouldn’t hurt them if Nobles and Lawrence fell in the strength of schedule rankings.

Cushing and Belmont Hill continue to dominate the East.  It is very unlikely that either of those teams will fall out of the 1-2 slots.  It is also unlikely that Belmont Hill can overtake Cushing for the #1 seed.  The battle in the East is between Lawrence and Nobles for the third and fourth seeds.  Right now, Nobles has a slight edge over Lawrence, but it needs wins to sustain that lead—ties won’t cut it.  St. Sebastian’s, Tabor, and Governor’s remain playoff eligible.  But, it really doesn’t matter.  There is virtually no chance that any of them can sneak into the fourth spot.  The question is whether those three teams will stay at or above .500—if any of them fall below that level, games against them will no longer count as quality games.  There goes that third criterion again.

Here is how the top of the East looks:

1.         Cushing (1 + 1 + 1 = 3)

 2.        Belmont Hill (2 + 2 + 2= 6)

3.         Nobles (4 + 3 + 4 = 11)

4.         Lawrence (5 + 3 + 4 = 12)

5.         Exeter (3 + 5 + 11 = 19)

Now, let’s look west.  Four teams have good shots at the last two playoff spots and two more could still sneak in.  Avon and Salisbury continue to dominate the West.  Hotchkiss has snuck past South Kent and sits in the third spot.  South Kent has fallen to fourth, barely ahead of Taft and Gunnery.  And, if any of them slip, Westminster and Choate are positioned to pounce and move into a playoff spot.  Gunnery is in a tough position, because it is in 10th spot in the strength of schedule criterion. It will be difficult for them to move up more than a couple of spots.  They need to keep winning and get a little outside help.  Taft has its own fortune in its own hands.  Wins by Taft and any slippage by South Kent could flip the rankings.

We expect that it will take another week of games for things to be sorted out even more in the West.  By this time next week, we think the battle for the final two spots will be more focused.  It should be fun!

            Here is how things look in the West:

1.                  Avon (1 + 1 + 1 = 3)

2.                  Salisbury (2 + 2 + 2 = 6)

3.                  Hotchkiss (3 + 3 + 5 = 11)

4.                  South Kent (4 + 4 + 4 = 12)

5.                  Taft (6 + 6 + 3 = 15)

6.                  Gunnery (4 + 4 + 10 = 18)

7.                  Westminster (7 + 7 + 7 = 21)

8.                  Choate (8 + 8 + 6 = 22)

 

 


2/11/07

Cushing Again #1 in USHR Prep Poll

Once again, Cushing Academy, which hasn’t lost since dropping a mid-December decision to Culver and is undefeated in NEPSIHA play (21-0-1), sits atop the USHR Div. I Prep Poll.

USHR Div. I Prep Poll – Feb. 11


 


2/9/07


NEPSAC Board Rejects Taft Appeal

The NEPSAC Executive Board has turned down Taft coach Dan Murphy’s appeal of the NEPSIHA 4-on-4 OT ruling.

On Sat. Dec. 16, at the Lawrenceville Tournament, Taft defeated Belmont Hill, 2-1, on a goal by sophomore Jesse Root at 2:27 of OT. While the goal came within the five minute time frame for it to be considered a win for NEPSIHA playoff seeding purposes, it also came in a 4-on-4 overtime situation, and that’s the rub.

Below, we have the original NEPSIHA ruling as well as Murphy’s highly considered and passionate appeal on behalf of his team. We’re presenting this point-counterpoint style. There’s some real food for thought here, and we’d be interested in hearing any thoughts readers – particularly those with no relevant allegiances -- may have. Do you agree with the NEPSIHA decision? Do you agree with coach Murphy’s viewpoint?  Feel free to elaborate. Send email to information(at)ushr.com. 

First, though, here’s the statement, from Jim McNally, the Rivers School AD and NEPSAC president:

“This is to inform you that the NEPSAC Executive Board has decided to uphold the decision of the NEPSIHA Board to rule the game between Belmont Hill School and Taft School at the Lawrenceville Tournament as a tie for NEPSIHA tournament selection purposes.

“The NEPSAC Executive Board endorses the following statement and position taken by the NEPSIHA Board regarding this issue.”


The NEPSIHA Ruling:
 

The Governing members of the Nepsiha Board have unanimously agreed that the contest between Belmont Hill and The Taft School played at the Lawrenceville tournament in December will be viewed as a tie when ranking teams for the NE Tournament this year.  Taft won the game 3 minutes into overtime, but the overtime period was played 4 V. 4 instead of 5 v. 5.  It was the feeling of the Nepsiha board members that 4 on 4 was a departure from the NCAA rules for overtime and significantly different than the standard that we play for overtime.  NCAA rules state that a Standard overtime for 5 minutes must be played for overtimes in games and tournaments during the season.  Although it does not state that the game should be played 5 on 5, the key word is standard and it is the feeling of the board that that means a 5 on 5 overtime. Nepsiha does recognize that prep hockey, although they follow NCAA rules, do have exceptions.  For example, length of games and number of players able to dress per contest, are exceptions to the NCAA rules.  However, these exceptions have been discussed and are well known by all member coaches.  It is also common knowledge that overtimes will be played 5 on 5.  Although we never have discussed this before, it has always been assumed.  We have never had a conversation regarding overtimes being played differently, i.e. 4 on 4.  The NHL has made this change, where the NCAA has not.  We feel that the time is not an issue in this situation, but the change in number of players is and that is why we have ruled the contest a tie for seeding purposes.


The following is Taft’s appeal of  the NEPSIHA ruling, as presented to the NEPSAC Executive Board: 

Issue: The New England Prep School Ice Hockey Association has decided to rule that the game played between The Taft School and the Belmont Hill School at the Lawrenceville School Christmas Tournament was a 1 – 1 tie, not a 2-1 overtime win by The Taft School.

Under the rules of the Lawrenceville School Tournament, The Taft School won the game in the first five minutes of the overtime period.  Taft advanced on to the championship game by a score of 2 - 1.

N.E.P.S.I.H.A. has ruled the game a tie because the overtime period was played under a 4 v 4 format. 

N.E.P.S.I.H.A. contends that the overtime period which was played between The Taft School and Belmont Hill should have been played in a 5 v 5 format for the game to count as a New England Prep School Ice Hockey Association Division I win.  We believe this ruling s unfair to the teams at the Lawrenceville Tournament, and we believe it is unfairly singling out the Lawrenceville Tournament while similar issues exist at other tournaments.  We respectfully ask that the game result be allowed to stand, and that is any issues remain, they be considered in the off-season to ensure this situation is not repeated next year.

N.E.P.S.I.H.A which follows a hybrid of NCAA rules and N.E.P.S.I.H.A. rules contends that overtime periods should follow the NCAA guidelines:

·        Nowhere in the 2006 – 2008 Men’s and Women’s NCAA Hockey rules and interpretations does it mention specifically that an overtime period must be played under a 5 v 5 format.

·        The NCAA rules and interpretations reads as follows regarding Tied Games:

SECTION 54

a. If the score is tied at the end of three regulation 20-minute

periods, the following shall take place (Exception: see 6-56):

1. There shall be a two-minute intermission.

2. The teams shall not change ends.

3. A five-minute period shall be played.

4. The team that scores first wins and the game is ended. If a goal is not scored in the five-minute period, the game shall be declared a tie.

b. Any overtime period shall be considered part of the game and all

unexpired penalties shall remain in force.

c. If either team declines to play in the necessary overtime period, the game shall be declared a loss for that team.

·        After reading the rules for overtime play, The N.E.P.S.I.H.A. Executive Board then turned to section 56 of the NCAA rules and interpretations book that speaks to Tournament Competition:

SECTION 56

b. For regular-season tournaments and postseason consolation games only, any game that results in a tie may be broken by use of a shootout under the following conditions:

1. Teams play a standard five-minute overtime.

2. If game remains tied, it shall officially be recorded as a tie.

3. Teams participating in the tournament must be notified not later than October 1 of the upcoming season that the shootout option will be used.           

·        Again, the NCAA rules and interpretations book does not say that the overtime period must be played under a 5 v 5 format.

·        The N.E.P.S.I.H.A. Executive Board decided to interpret item 1 (Teams play a standard five-minute overtime) as 5 v 5 play.  Their decision is purely subjective because nowhere in the NCAA rules and interpretations book does it mention the game must be played 5 v 5.

·        There are many instances throughout a hockey game that teams play 4 v 4, 5 v 4, 3 v 3, 5 v 3 ect.  It is standard that on many occasions throughout the year teams will have to play 4 v 4.

The Taft School is petitioning this ruling for many reasons:

1.      The game was won by The Taft School under the rules and regulations of the Lawrenceville School Hockey Tournament.  Like the other schools, Taft played under the tournament rules, followed them, and fully expected the results to stand.

2.      At the end of the game The Belmont Hill coaches and players congratulated The Taft School coaches and players for winning the game.  At no point in the post-game ceremony did the Belmont Hill coaches and players think that the game ended in a tie.

3.      The Lawrenceville School has been hosting this Christmas tournament for 56 years, and over the last 56 years that New England Prep School Ice Hockey Teams have attended, they have all played by the rules of the tournament, and the New England Prep Schools have never contended that a game would not count in the New England Prep School Ice Hockey Standings because of The Lawrenceville School Tournament rules not being in-sync with NCAA or N.E.P.S.I.H.A. rules.  We believe it is unfair to apply the ruling after the tournament is over.  Certainly, no team at the tournament would have played had it thought an overtime win played under tournament rule would be nullified.

·        One of the standard rules of The Lawrenceville School Tournament is that no team may dress more than 18 players.  This follows the NCAA for Players in Uniform.

SECTION 3. a. At the beginning of each game, the coach of each team shall list the players and goalkeepers who shall be eligible to play in the game. A maximum of 18 players, plus not more than three nor less than two goalkeepers, shall be permitted; and a captain shall be designated.  In exhibition games, 21 skaters and as many as three goalkeepers are allowed.

·        N.E.P.S.A.C. and N.E.P.S.I.H.A. rules allows a coach to dress as many players as one would like for a game.  In fact, many schools and Taft in particular dress 19/20 skaters for all regular season contests.  How come the N.E.P.S.I.H.A. Board of Governance has not ruled that all of the games played at The Lawrenceville Hockey Tournament to be ties?

·        N.E.P.S.I.H.A. rules for Division I ice hockey play also call for official contests to be played under the three 18 minute period criteria.  At The Lawrenceville School Christmas Tournament, the games are played under three 15 minute period criteria.  Again, another clear example of inconsistency and discrepancy between N.E.P.S.I.H.A. playing rules and the conditions of which The Lawrenceville School Christmas Tournament are played.

4.      Moreover, there are many inconsistencies and discrepancies between N.E.P.S.I.H.A rules and holiday hockey tournaments played throughout New England during the winter months, and if the same logic was applied in these cases, other game results would have to be changed.

·        The Avon Old Farms Christmas Classic plays their round robin contest in two 22.5 minute halves.  The NCAA rules and interpretations book under Time of Game reads as follows:

SECTION 55. a. The time allowed for a game shall be three 20-minute periods of actual play with a rest intermission of 12/15 minutes between each period. The intermission shall commence when the referee signals the timekeeper to start the clock. The duration of the game includes all intermissions. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, a delay of game penalty may be assessed to a team not adhering to the 12/15-minute intermissions.

·        According to the NCAA rules and interpretations book and N.E.P.S.I.H.A. those games played at the Avon Old Farms Christmas Classic are not even official games.  But they are considered official games by the N.E.P.S.I.H.A. Board of Governance because the participating teams that decided to attend the Avon Old Farms Christmas Classic entered the tournament agreeing to play their respective games by the rules and standards set by the Avon Old Farms Christmas Classic Tournament Committee.

5.      The Avon Old Farms Christmas Classic example is no different than The Taft School’s dilemma at The Lawrenceville School Tournament.

·        Belmont Hill School, Canterbury School, Choate Rosemary Hall, Northfield Mt. Hermon School, and The Taft School all agreed to enter and play in the Lawrenceville School Tournament under the rules and standards set by the Lawrenceville School Tournament Committee.

6.      The Lawrenceville School Tournament Committee sent out the rules for the 2006 tournament in mid-October to all the coaches of the participating N.E.P.S.I.H.A. schools.  Each coach received a copy in advance of the tournament and not one coach recognized the change in format of overtime play from years past until the night before the tournament started.  Again, the N.E.P.S.I.H.A. Board of Governance may interpret the NCAA rules and interpretations books as it wishes, but the Belmont Hill School, Canterbury School, Choate Rosemary Hall, Northfield Mt. Hermon School, and The Taft School all agreed to enter and play in the Lawrenceville School Tournament under the rules and standards set by the Lawrenceville School Tournament Committee.  Not one New England coach raised the issue to the Lawrenceville School Tournament Committee before the tournament games started. 

The Taft School is asking that the N.E.P.S.A.C. Board of Governance overturn the N.E.P.S.I.H.A. Board of Governance ruling based on the aforementioned reasons presented.  The Taft School would also like to ask that the N.E.P.S.I.H.A. coaches committee address and clarify the rules and regulations of overtime play as well as the inconsistencies that exist between rules and regulations amongst the various holiday hockey tournaments and the hybrid of NCAA and N.E.P.S.I.H.A. rules by which Division I schools play their contests.


 


2/9/07

Remembering Old Seawolves

Last Saturday, Tabor played NMH in what was an otherwise uneventful prep school hockey game won by the Seawolves, 6-0.  But, prior to that game, there was a ceremony that merits some mention.  Tabor’s 1970-71 undefeated hockey team was honored with a banner that will hang in Tabor’s rink, next to its championship banners.  In the days before there was a New England championship -- and most teams played on outdoor or roof-only rinks -- the only thing teams played for was to win as many games as possible.  That Tabor team -- two years removed from a winless season -- played and practiced on an outdoor rink, buffeted by the winds blowing off of Sippican Harbor and it did not lose.  It defeated teams like St. Paul’s, Mt Hermon, Belmont Hill, Thayer, and Nobles.  Tabor folks believe it is the only undefeated team in the school’s history and on Saturday that team—represented by six of its players and the memory of its coach, the late Lucien Lavoie—finally received the recognition it deserved for that remarkable achievement. 

Other than a few teachers at Tabor who remember that team, and the players who were there in body or spirit, there is little reason for anyone else to care.  But, perhaps, everyone who loves prep hockey should pause for a second and remember that, long before there were 2,000 people in a rink in Salem, NH, prep schools played hockey -- good hockey -- and lots of very good players (and people) represented the schools that we talk about so much today.  The 1970-71 Tabor team was honored last Saturday -- deservedly.  Actually, all of those who played prep hockey years ago deserve to be remembered, because they are part of the rich history of the game, a history that should be celebrated and never forgotten.


 


2/9/07

Playoff Update


There are some changes in the rankings this week, but they happened because a sharp-eyed reader caught a mistake.  We had missed a couple of Flood-Marr tournament wins by Hotchkiss and, when those victories were added in to the database, Hotchkiss jumped in the standings.  In fact, correcting those errors—and a win over Westminster—vaulted Hotchkiss into the 4th spot in the west, just ahead of Westminster.  All that means is that Hotchkiss now has a chance to solidify its own position with some wins.  But, their schedule is challenging down the stretch, including two games against Taft, itself battling to stay in the playoff hunt.

Nothing really changed in the east.  Nobles, Lawrence and Exeter are in a pitched battle for the final 2 spots, with Exeter still on the outside looking in.  All three should win this weekend, so we look for the status quo to hold.  However, the games are played on ice, not paper. St. Seb’s and Tabor are technically alive, but each of them needs a miracle.  We’ll report their position for another week, but if their position does not improve by next weekend, we’ll be focusing just on the top five in the east.

As we head into this weekend’s action, here is how things look in the unofficial USHR playoff rankings

West:

1. Avon (3)
2. Salisbury (6)
3. South Kent (10)
4. Hotchkiss (13)
5. Westminster (17) -- Westminster is in 5th place because it leads Taft in the tie-breaker
6. Taft (17)
7. Gunnery (22)
8. Deerfield (23)
9. Choate (26)
10. Winchendon (31)
11. Berkshire (34)

East:

1. Cushing (3)
2. Belmont Hill (6)
3. Nobles (10)
4. Lawrence (12)
5. Exeter (16)
6. St. Seb's (24)
7. Tabor (26)

The above rankings are current through games of Thursday Feb. 8.


 


2/7/07

Proctor Leading Div. II Playoff Hunt

Here is how things look in Div. II going into this afternoon’s games. These figures are unofficial.

 1. Proctor 2-1-1 = 4
 2. Hoosac 1-2-6 = 9
 3. Vermont 3-4-4 = 11
 4. Hebron 5-3-3 = 11
 5. Brunswick 5-5-2 = 12
 6. St. George’s 4-6-5 =15
 7. Middlesex 7-7-7 =21
 8. Berwick 8-9-11 = 28
 9. St. Mark’s 9-11-9 = 29
10. Pingree 12-8-9 = 29
11. Roxbury Latin 9-12-12 = 33
12. Worcester Academy 11-12-13 = 36
13. Portsmouth Abbey 13-14-13 = 40
14. Brewster 21-15-7 = 43

There are a couple of things done differently in Div. II. 

There is no East or West, as there is in Div. I. Teams are seeded one through eight, regardless of where its campus is located. #8 will play at #1 on the last Wednesday in February; #7 will play at #2, and so forth.

The criteria differ. 

Criteria #1: Winning percentage vs. all Div. II teams.
Criteria #2: Winning percentage vs Div. II teams at .500 or better.
Criteria #3: (The percentage of games played vs .500 or better Div. II teams) x (winning percentage in games vs. .500 or better Div. II teams.)


 


2/6/07

Aiming for Salem

With three weeks to go in the regular season, it’s time to get started on our playoff projections. Prep hockey aficionados have likely noticed that, relatively speaking, things are fairly settled in the east. We’ll review the numbers in a moment, but Cushing and Belmont Hill, barring a total collapse, are solidly in the playoffs.  Nobles and Lawrence are in good shape as we make the turn into the home stretch, though Exeter still has a chance to sneak in.

In the west, things are a jumbled mess, and we love it -- an exciting stretch run looms.   Avon and Salisbury look set, but there are at least seven teams with legitimate shots at the grabbing the last two playoff spots. For now, South Kent and Westminster occupy the last two playoff berths, but neither of those clubs can afford an off day or, heaven forbid, even a modest losing streak.

Before we look at the numbers, let’s review how playoff seedings are determined.  Who makes the playoffs is based on a formula. Simply put, teams are seeded based on how well they perform under three equally-weighted criteria. The three criteria are:


1. Winning percentage in all NEPSIHA (Div. I and Div. II ) games;

2. Winning percentage in all NEPSIHA Div. I games; and,

3. Percentage of Div. I games against teams with at least a .500 record multiplied by their winning percentage in those games.


At the end of the season, each team is ranked under each of these criteria (e.g., the team with the highest NEPSIHA winning percentage is ranked #1, the next highest percentage is ranked #2, etc.) and each teams rankings are added together to yield a score. (If a team is ranked first in each of these criteria, its score is 3.) The four teams with the lowest score make the playoffs, with seedings based on the relative scores of those four teams. Sounds simple, right?  Well, it is...and it isn't. The third criterion is one that can change quickly and boost or hurt a team, almost regardless of how they are playing at the moment. Since each team's performance in this criterion (the "strength of schedule" factor) depends on how other teams it has played are doing, a team can benefit if a team it beat earlier in the year gets on a roll and climbs above .500. Conversely, if you beat a team that is hovering above .500 and then has a slump and fall below, you get hurt in the third criterion.

Got that?  Good!  Let’s check out the numbers.  Here is how teams set up in the east.  Each team’s ranking in each criterion is shown in parentheses, so you can make detailed comparisons.

East

1.                  Cushing (1 + 1 + 1): 3

2.                  Belmont Hill (2 + 2 + 3): 7

3.                  Nobles (3 + 3 + 4): 10

4.                  Lawrence (4 + 4 + 2): 10

5.                  Exeter (5 + 5 + 7): 17

6.                  St. Seb's (6 + 7 + 12): 25

7.                  Tabor (7 + 6 + 13): 26

The real question is whether Exeter can sneak into the final spot.  Exeter’s remaining schedule is not terribly difficult, and it is not out of the realm of possibility that they could run the table.  Their toughest remaining games (on paper) are against Deerfield and Andover, so we expect Exeter to remain in the picture and to put some pressure on Lawrence and Nobles.  But, they will need help.  Both Lawrence and Nobles have some testers left to play and it is possible that some slip-ups could create an opening for Exeter to sneak in.

What about St. Seb’s and Tabor?  Both have a shot.  Both need to keep winning; neither has any margin for error.  And, both of them need an enormous amount of help.  We won’t bother exploring scenarios involving the two teams until (and unless) it looks like one of them has a real chance to sneak in.  As with last year, we are sure that St Seb’s wishes it could end the season at New Year’s and Tabor wishes that it could start the season then.  St. Seb's -- once again -- could not sustain its early-season momentum and Tabor -- once again --will likely be unable to overcome its slow start.

West

1.                  Avon Old Farms (1 + 1 + 1): 3

2.                  Salisbury (2 + 2 + 2): 6

3.                  South Kent (3 + 3 + 4): 10

4.                  Westminster (4 + 4 + 5): 13

5.                  Taft (6 + 6 + 3): 15

6.                  Gunnery (5 + 5 + 10): 20

7.                  Deerfield (7 + 7 + 6): 20

8.                  Hotchkiss (8 + 8 + 8): 24

9.                  Choate (10 + 10 + 6): 26

10.              Winchendon (9 + 9 + 11): 29

11.              Berkshire (11 + 11 + 12): 34

The real battle is for the 3-4 spots.  South Kent has enjoyed a strong year so far, but they cannot go on cruise control.  A couple of losses and they could slide right out of the playoff picture.  The same is true for Westminster.  Could Taft vault into the playoffs?  Of course, but they will need to win against some of the west’s big guns to get there.  What about Gunnery?  Games with Avon, South Kent and Westminster will go a long way towards determining whether they can jump up a couple of spots.  Deerfield?  Three games in a row later this month against Avon, Taft, and Exeter will either doom or boost their chances.  Choate and Hotchkiss?  Like Tabor and St. Sebs in the east, they need wins and they need help.  But, they also have to climb over a few other teams and that may too tough a chore.

We will be updating the rankings twice a week.  The Friday edition will just reflect the standings and won’t feature much commentary,  just some things to be looking for in Saturday’s games.  On Tuesday, we will take a more in-depth look at the playoff rankings and different scenarios.

One caveat: these are unofficial rankings.  They are based on the results of games reported to USHR.  We make every effort to get things right, but if you think there is an error, please let us know. 

Enjoy this week’s games.


 


2/5/07

Vermont Academy Tops USHR Div. II Poll


Vermont Academy is #1 in this week's USHR Div. II Prep Poll.

USHR Div. II Prep Poll -- 2/5/07 



2/4/07

Cushing Takes Over Top Spot in Div. I Poll

Cushing Academy, undefeated in NEPSIHA play at 19-0-1, has taken over the top spot in this week's USHR Div. I Prep poll.

USHR Div. I Prep Poll -- 2/4/07



2/1/07

Div. I Playoff Scenario

In the battle for playoff position in NEPSIHA Division I, it is clear, as we move into February, that nothing is settled, and, moreover, that there are spots still to be won in the East and West.

As we begin our review, there are three teams solidly in playoff position in the East: Cushing, Belmont Hill and Nobles (in that order). Lawrence currently holds down the fourth spot, but Exeter is close behind. St. Sebs and Tabor are playoff hopefuls, but they need wins and a lot of help. Lawrence is on the rise; they are hot and their wins this week over Nobles and Belmont Hill did much to solidify their position. But Exeter is right behind and we expect that battle to be fierce right until the last weekend of the season.

In the West, things are less clear. Avon and Salisbury are solidly in the 1-2 slots. South Kent is comfortably in third place, but they need to regain their early season form or they risk sliding back into the pack currently battling for the final spot. Right now, in fact, all of the excitement in the West is in that battle for the #4 seed. Currently, Westminster is slightly ahead of Taft. Gunnery and Deerfield are moving up; in fact, Deerfield is a team to watch in the next week or so. Gunnery is hurt by a softer schedule which damages its placement in the strength of schedule criterion. Deerfield is hot and if they keep winning, they appear to be in the best position to take advantage of a slip-up by Taft or Westminster. Choate and Hotchkiss remain in the mix as well. But, much like Tabor and St. Sebs in the East, they need to get wins and some outside help.

In the weekend report, we will review where everyone stands in detail. We’ll review the criteria and see who needs help...and where they might get it.



2/1/07

Cichy Leaves NTDP

University of North Dakota recruit Mike Cichy has left the NTDP's Under-17 Team.

A 6'0", 175 lb. LC, Cichy was at practice today with the Junior Bruins (EJHL) and will be in the lineup for them for this weekend's games at the Green Mountain Glades.

Reports are that the NTDP up-and-down style of play, in which dumping and chasing and trapping play a large role, didn't suit Cichy, who, in 27 games, is 3-6-9 with 33 pims. The Under-17s have lost 26 of the 33 NAHL games they have played this year.

Reprtedly, the NTDP, unlike Colby Cohen earlier in the season, didn't demand a release fee for Cichy, which could indicate a number of things. It's possible that a door is being left open for him to return either to the Under-18 Team next year, any international competition, and/or the World Juniors. Perhaps the NTDP is realizing that the outflow of talent is not a good thing, either practically or from a PR standpoint.

Cichy, who is from New Hartford, Conn, had a 67-55-122 line in 76 games with the Junior Bruins Empire Jr. B team last year. His draft rights are held by the Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL). You can be sure the Mooseheads smell blood in this situation and will be all over him, with the goal of getting him up there next fall.


Around the Rinks

Paul Dore, who scored the game-winner with 52 seconds left to lead KUA to a 4-3 win over Salisbury in the Elite 8 Championship, is a senior the Wildca
Paul Dore, who scored the game-winner with 52 seconds left to lead KUA to a 4-3 win over Salisbury in the Elite 8 Championship, is a senior the Wildcats will be counting on heavily as they go for a record 4-peat. (Photo: Dave Arnold Photography)
 
With Justin Hryckowian and Nick Capone taking their senior seasons in the USHL, classmate and UVM recruit Lucas Mercuri is Salisbury's leading returni
With Justin Hryckowian and Nick Capone taking their senior seasons in the USHL, classmate and UVM recruit Lucas Mercuri is Salisbury's leading returning scorer. (Photo: Dave Arnold Photography)
 
Kent's Aidan Cobb, now a senior, committed to Cornell after helping lead Kent to the Large School Championship last March.
Kent's Aidan Cobb, now a senior, committed to Cornell after helping lead Kent to the Large School Championship last March. (Photo: Dave Arnold Photography)