Well, the first week of high school hockey is nearly in the books with 10 games to go tomorrow (Monday). The only incontrovertible bit of information I will take from this week of hockey is that anything can really happen this year. D1 is as much of a crap shoot as D2 was last year. D2 is still a toss up and while D3 certainly has more of a division of power, there are plenty of teams who can vie for a D3 crown this year.
What I'll post every Sunday will be the current D1, D2 & D3 standings, obviously not taking into account any games that take place Monday or Tuesday, I'm not Marty McFly. I will take a look at each division as well. For those curious, the CTHSHockey week usually starts on Wednesday, so predictions, top 10's, players of the week, etc. with be Wednesdays-Tuesdays. We all caught up? Good.
|State Points||Win Pct|
Hamden has gotten off to an incredible start with impressive wins over Darien and New Canaan and because New Canaan beat NDWH and NDWH beat ND Fairfield and ND Fairfield beat Glastonbury and Darien beat Fairfield Prep and Fairfield Prep beat Ridgefield and Ridgefield beat West Haven, Hamden is the best team in America, right? I hate doing that, but that's kind of all we have to go off right now. Do I think Hamden is the best D1 team in the state right now? Heck no! Do I think they're in the top 5, maybe the top 3? Yeah, I do. They are getting scoring from all over. Captain Anthony Rascati has risen to the occasion, freshman Jeremy Routh is a blossoming star and lengthy forward Sam Carignan is providing a settling presence for the Dragons. Not to be overlooked as well is the great start senior Chris Feldman has gotten off to in net. With only a small sample size, Hamden has by far the best resume to this point. Simsbury beat a good North Haven team and a weak South Windsor squad. The Trojans could be a sleeper this year as I'm a firm believer defense wins championships. Easties continue to beat the teams that are placed in front of them, even if they are D2 opponents and NWC hasn't played a real D1 game yet. After that, it's the definition of a clusterpuck. It's way too early to play contender or pretender, but of the 1-1 or 1-0 in Xavier's case, I think NDWH, NDF, Prep, Ridgefield, Darien, New Canaan and Xavier have staying power. This is an excellent thing for the sport, though. I said it from the beginning of exhibition games, the talent pool in the state is down across the board. This is bringing on parity and uncertainty which sucks for my weekly predictions but is awesome for all those venturing out to the rinks this year. Prep will rebound from their loss to Darien, a team that from on site reports wasn't all that impressive in an opening night loss to Hamden. Both ND's play at such a high level which no more evident than yesterday at Bennett. Both teams have bona fide star power but certain goaltending issues, be it personnel or simply skill. I still need to see more from Xavier but goalie Ben Guidobono was excellent in his first action of the year, a 3-1 win over a St. Joseph team that had already had game action. At the bottom end South Windsor looks to be fighting it losing to two mid-tier D1 teams. West Haven has one of the state's best defensemen in Alex Scranton and solid goaltending in Mike Savino, but where is that offense going to come from? Finally, lots of unknowns from Greenwich who could've made a small statement if they held on against West Haven on opening night but they floundered and could be battling with South Windsor for the 15 or 16 seed.
Division 2: The Originators of Parity
If at the beginning of the season you told me that Amity, Milford, Cheshire, Guilford, and Fairfield Co-op would have a combined 1-8 record I would've suggested a reevaluation of your mental state. But that's where we stand. For the record, out of those teams, I wouldn't worry about Amity. They didn't seem ready for their opener loss to North Haven and they should be fine. Teams like Trinity Catholic and Trumbull have shown growth from last season while usual powers East Catholic, North Branford, Hand, North Haven and preseason #1 Branford have shown why they deserved to be top 10 squads. I especially like the start for East Catholic, North Branford and Branford. EC finds ways to win and around these parts they tend to ride under the SCC biased radar. They are a legitimate title contender with solid goaltending in Thomas Usseglio and bend but don't break defense and a cast of less than jazzy but extremely competent forwards. North Branford had to deal with the loss of leading scorer and backbone Dylan Podbielski as well as their starting goalie Kyle Saroka and have looked excellent in defensively wearing down quality clubs Milford and Newington-Berlin. They haven't slowed down from last year and should be considered very dangerous. Finally, Branford is loaded. They are the best D2 team going and excel in every facet. Tyler Criscuolo, six goals through two games, is exploding onto the scene this season which makes all their secondary options that much scarier. Daniel Hand is an interesting 2-0 team. Ben Solin and Dan Braumann are great and fun to watch but at some point, secondary scoring is going to have to be found. Chase Briggs is a difference maker for them, however. I could go through each team here and with 22 teams at this level inevitably six teams will fall from state consideration. The only team that really looks like they are going to have too much trouble making up for their losses at this point is Watertown-Pomperaug. After that, it's wide open and should be fun to watch.
D3- Less parity but a whole lot more confusion.
Great starts from upstarts Tri-Town, who looks completely invigorated since dropping down to D3 and Housatonic-Northwestern-Wamogo. The bottom half of D3 is quite weak unlike the the aforementioned divisions. I still think Masuk, Newtown and to a lesser extent EO Smith-Tolland-Windham and NFI are the teams to beat at this level. Masuk lost a game to Newtown that could've gone either way and then went out and laid a whooping on Joel Barlow. Newtown toppled Masuk in a great game only to tie a low level D2 Wilton squad. Bucks look strong and are a cop-out sleeper at D3 while NFI, if they can rid themselves of in house and on bench squabbling could be very good. The list of teams vying for the final few playoff spots will be long and they may beat the hell out of each other. Woodstock is a few years from being competitive, Eastern CT will struggle as will Joel Barlow, Wethersfield, St. Bernard-NFA-Bacon, Lyman Hall-HK, RMR and possibly Norwalk-McMahon although they won their opener. Hall-Southington is a team to watch but looked awful in a 7-1 loss to the Bucks. Sheehan dropped a dreadful opener to the Eastern CT Eagles but bounced back nicely crushing Shepaug-Litchfield-Nonnewaug. Like all divisions it's far too early to be definitive on any of this. This is all solely based on our first week of action. Time will tell.