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Friday, February 28, 2014

A Look At Tonight's Games

Bucks' Matt Schoen         Photo cred- Steve Smith
Friday, February 28th sees seven games taking place across the state. At this point everyone matters. In my previous post, I detailed where teams currently stand. I will post another Bracketology on Sunday after tonight and Saturday's large slate of games. Things are sure to change.  As for tonight, arguably the biggest game is our first game. At 5:00, EO Smith-Tolland (13-4-1) hosts Newington-Berlin (13-3-1) at Uconn. The Indians took down the Bucks in exciting fashion when the two met last time, beating them 3-2 in overtime in Newington. The Bucks have shown numerous times that they can hang with certain D2 squads. On paper it doesn't look impressive. They are 2-4 against D2 teams with the two wins coming against Farmington Valley. But if you look closer you'll see that 3 of the 4 losses came in overtime and all four came against D2 tournament qualifiers with a combined 39-10-3 record. Playing Newington close tonight will be great and all, but if the Bucks don't win this one, their hopes of a #2 seed in the D3 state tournament are lost. A win, paired with a win over Tri-Town tomorrow should set them up to earn a #2 seed. The task is lofty, however. Newington-Berlin is a quiet storm in D2 right now. They've moved up to #2 in my D2 Top 10 and they haven't lost since January 4th, a span where they've gone 10-0-1. By no means is their schedule SCC tough. This being their first year at D2, there are still a lot of D3 squads and lower level D2 squads on their schedule but they're a good team and at this point have to be in the discussion as a D2 title candidate. They are lead by senior Dan Roberts who's amassed 37 points (19 G, 18 A) through 17 games this year. In net, they are solid and rely on the two-headed monster of senior Tom Wood and junior Cam Criniti who have both posted sub two goals against averages to this point of the season.

Elsewhere, NFI (11-5-3) looks to finish strong after a tough 3-1 loss to the aforementioned Indians of Newington-Berlin. They host Shepaug-Litchfield-Nonnewaug (5-13) tonight at 5:30 at Danbury Ice Arena. NFI has had a confidence inducing end to their season. They've proven they can skate with anyone with repeated quality performances. They tied #2 Newtown 0-0, beat #1 Masuk 1-0, tied D2 heavyweight New Milford 2-2 and recently hung tough with Newington-Berlin. They won't blow your doors off offensively but have a deep group of forwards led by 15 goal scorer junior Parker Evans, senior Brian Gunn and junior Frank Haklits. Shepaug lost to NFI on the opening night of the season 3-0. That's way too far back to base anything off of but if Shepaug wants to hang in this one they better hope leading scorers, juniors Andrew Loya (31 points) and Christian Stuart (29 points) show up.

At the D1 level, Simsbury (7-10-1) hosts Glastonbury (12-5) tonight at 7:20 at the ISCC. After a decent start, Simsbury has been fighting it lately. Since beating D2 power East Catholic 2-1 on January 22, the Trojans have gone 1-7-1. The Tomahawks have gone in the other direction. They've won five of six and they currently have positioned themselves in a way, that if they win out, they can move all the way up to a #5 seed. When the teams met back in early January it was all Glastonbury, winning 5-1. Glastonbury is another team that has been doing it by committee but are lead in scoring by senior Patrick Conley (22 points) and the goal mouth out by junior Kyle Thibodeaux (3 SHO, 1.59 GAA). Don't be shocked to see senior goalie Alex Ment get some action at some point the rest of the way as he is more than capable on winning one for the 'Hawks as well.

The long anticipated Warrior Cup will take place tonight at 7:50 at Danbury Ice Arena featuring Newtown (11-4-3) and Joel Barlow (4-13). The teams have joined forces to raise funds to benefit the Wounded Warriors Project. Newtown police officer Matt Hayes (a Wounded Warrior) will be honored prior to the game. As far as the on ice action, Newtown is looking like a likely #2 seed in the D3 tourney barring a Bucks upset of Newington today. The Nighthawks laid their biggest egg of the year Wednesday night losing 5-1 to a then, 3-11 Wethersfield team. Only 2-2-1 over their last five, the Nighthawks would love to gather some consistency heading into the SCC tournament and D3 state tournament. Joel Barlow comes in losers of six of seven but have been in most of their games. The two teams battled to a 3-2 Newtown final the first time they met this year. Tonight's game should be tight, especially with all the hoopla surrounding it and the anticipated crowd.

Fermi-Enfield (5-11-1) needs to find a win in their last three games. If they lose out, their future gets clouded. They hope that happens tonight when they host D1's South Windsor (6-9-2) at 8:00 at Enfield Twin Rinks. With a win, the Bobcats would qualify for the D1 state tournament assuring them at worst a #14 seed. South Windsor is (4-4-2) over their last ten and has really been hit or miss all year. Fermi has lost 7 of 8 and are limping toward the finish line. That said, they've been in nearly every one of those games. The lost 2-0 to NWC, 3-1 to New-Ber, 4-3 in OT to Simsbury, 4-1 to Suffield and recently beat D2's best East Catholic 2-1. They can win this game and assure themselves a spot in the D2 tourney where they won't be an easy out, necessarily. Senior Bryan Bakas is one of the only Bobcats to consistently score (12 goals) and he'll be relied on heavily down the stretch. I think South Windsor wins this one, but it'll come down to the wire and I wouldn't be shocked if it went the other way.

BCR (15-2-1) has the potential to finish with a two loss regular season. Their final real test comes tonight when they host D3's Tri-Town (7-8-1) at 8:20 at the Bolton Ice Palace. BCR, like Newington-Berlin, in their first D2 season have gone about their business rather quietly and haven't lost since January 15th. They are 10-0-1 over that stretch, ring any bells? Tri-Town is only 3-6-1 over their last ten and have been handed a brutal finishing stretch with BCR, EO Smith-Tolland and Newtown. It's also been informally announced that Tri-Town will be facing Housatonic-NW-Wamogo next Wednesday as both teams sat at 19 games.

Finally, at 8:30 at Hotchkiss, Housatonic-NW-Wamogo (13-3-2) hosts Masuk (15-4) in a regular season finale for Masuk. As I mentioned before, Housy seems to have added an additional game with Tri-Town. Masuk was shocked slightly by Westhill Wednesday night, falling 4-3. I've been singing Westhill's praises all year but even I didn't see that one coming. Masuk should be fine. They are lead by one of D3's best players in junior Shane Dushay (24 G, 15 A, 39 Pts.). The Panthers have five players over 21 points on the season and a stalwart backstop in junior Conner Muller. Housy has played a lighter schedule but is doing what it takes to win. However, when these two teams met the first time around it was all Masuk winning 5-1. Housy relies on a pair of 10 goals scorers in junior Wes Reel and sophomore Jason Diamond. Junior goalie Eric Chin has played every minute for Housy in goal this year and has four shutouts to show for it.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Bracketology 2/27

I will be posting Bracketology on Sunday and Tuesday as well.  Tuesday will still be my "true" Bracketology day complete with "Best Matchup", "Upset Alert" and "Yawner."  For today's post, I will give you current, up the minute matchups as well as best case scenarios for each squad as well as who they have left. If win% may come into play for any team, I've included that as well Here goes...

DIVISION 1 (opponents and best possible point total and % (if applicable) in parenthesis)
(16) St. Joseph (1) Darien
St. Joseph- 28 points .375% (no remaining games)
Darien- 108 points (no remaining games)

9) West Haven @ 8) Glastonbury
West Haven- 75 points (NDF, Milford- 90 points)
Glastonbury- 78 points (Simsbury, Fermi, Branford- 97 points)

12) Greenwich @ 5) East Haven
Greenwich- 41 points (no remaining games)
East Haven- 88 points (Fairfield Prep- 97 points)

13) South Windsor @ 4) Fairfield Prep
South Windsor- 39 points (Fermi, Farmington Valley, Cheshire- 53 points)
Fairfield Prep- 90 points (Hamden, East Haven- 105)

11) Simsbury @ 6) Ridegefield
Simsbury- 47 points (Glastonbury, Wethersfield- 58 points)
Ridgefield- 87 points (no remaining games)

14) Hamden @ 3) ND Fairfield
Hamden- 54 points .342% (Fairfield Prep- 63 points .375%)
ND Fairfield- 100 points (West Haven, Northwest Catholic- 118 points)

10) Northwest Catholic @ 7) New Canaan
Northwest Catholic- 57 points (Suffield, ND Fairfield- 72 points)
New Canaan- 84 points (no remaining games)

15) Xavier @ 2) ND West Haven
Xavier- 48 points .389% (East Catholic- 54 points .421%)
ND West Haven- 108 points (no remaining games)

-Darien wins the tie breaker over NDWH (total wins).
-ND Fairfield can get a #1 seed if they win out against West Haven & NWC.
-West Haven can move into home ice territory with wins against NDF & Milford.
-Barring an East Haven upset over Prep, the top four will include some mixture of NDF, NDWH, Darien and Prep, with Prep likely being the #4 seed.
-Hamden will likely not finish better than a #14 seed even with a win over Prep on Saturday.
-If Xavier can't beat East Catholic, they will fall to at least the #14 seed. With a win, they will qualify and be around the #11 seed range.
-St. Joseph will be your #16 seed.
-Glastonbury can jump as high as a #5 seed if they win out.

16) Wilton @ 1) East Catholic
Wilton- 18 points .325 (no remaining games)
East Catholic- 82 points (Xavier, St. Bernard-NFA-Bacon- 90 points)

9) Cheshire @ 8) New Milford
Cheshire- 46 points (South Windsor- 52 points)
New Milford- 53 points (Amity- 59 points)

12) Suffield-Granby-WL @ 5) Newington-Berlin
Suffield-Granby-WL- 38 points (Wethersfield, Northwest Catholic, Milford- 55 points)
Newington-Berin- 57 points (EO Smith-Tolland, RMR, Hall-Southington- 65 points)

13) Daniel Hand @ 4) Trinity Catholic
Daniel Hand- 35 points (North Branford, Guilford- 45 points)
Trinity Catholic- 64 points (no remaining games)

11) North Branford @ 6) Amity
North Branford- 41 points (Hand, Amity, BBD- 57 points)
Amity- 55 points (New Milford, North Branford- 67 points)

14) Fermi-Enfield @ 3) North Haven
Fermi-Enfield- 24 .324% (South Windsor, Glastonbury, Conard- 43 points)
North Haven- 65 points (no remaining games)

10) Milford Co-op @ 7) BCR
Milford Co-op- 45 points (Guilford, Suffield-Granby-WL, West Haven- 64 points)
BCR- 53 points (Tri-Town, RMR- 58 points)

15) Fairfield Co-op @ 2) Branford
Fairfield Co-op- 23 points .350% (no remaining games)
Branford- 69 points (Glastonbury- 78 points)

-East Catholic has locked up the #1 seed.
-Trumbull, Farmington Valley, BBD, Conard have been eliminated from contention.
-Milford can move into the top five if they win out.
-Fairfield has locked up a final three seed.
-The only way the final three teams aren't Fermi, Fairfield and Wilton is if Fermi-Enfield loses out. Then, Watertown-Pomperaug gets into a complicated tie breaker with them that may come down to lottery.
-With Guilford's loss today, Wilton looks secure to claim one of the final three seeds

17) Conard
Conard- 23 points .211% (Fermi-Enfield- 27 points .250%)
18) Watertown-Pomperaug
Watertown-Pomperaug- 22 points .275% (no remaining games)
19) BBD
BBD- 17 points .158% (North Branford- 23 points .200%)
20) Guilford
Guilford- 14 points .176% (Milford, Hand, Wethersfield- 28 points .300%)
21) Trumbull
Trumbull- 11 points .200% (no remaining games)
22) Farmington Valley
Farmington Valley- 9 points .211% (South Windsor- 15 points .250%)

16) St. Bernard-NFA-Bacon @ 1) Masuk
St. Bernard-NFA-Bacon- 6 points .167% (Eastern CT Eagles, East Catholic- 14 points .250%)
Masuk- 47 points (Housatonic-NW-Wamogo- 50 points)

9) Tri-Town @ 8) Staples-Weston-Shelton
Tri-Town- 22 points (BCR, EO Smith-Tolland, Newtown- 34 points)
Staples-Weston-Shelton- 30 points (no remaining games)

12) Westhill @ 5) NFI
Westhill- 19 .350% (no remaining games)
NFI- 36 points (Shepaug-Litchfield-Nonnewaug- 38 points)

13) Shepaug-Litchfield-Nonnewaug @ 4) EO Smith-Tolland
Shepaug-Litchfield-Nonnewaug- 12 points .278% (NFI, Lyman Hall-HK- 18 points .350%)
EO Smith-Tolland- 36 points (Newington-Berlin, Tri-Town- 45 points)

11) Woodstock Academy @ 6) Housatonic-NW-Wamogo
Woodstock Academy- 13 points .400% (no remaining games)
Housatonic-NW-Wamogo- 32 points (Masuk- 35 points)

14) Joel Barlow @ 3) Sheehan
Joel Barlow- 12 points .235% (Newtown, Sheehan, Norwalk-McMahon- 20 points .350%)
Sheehan- 37 points (Joel Barlow- 39 points)

10) Lyman Hall-HK @ 7) Hall-Southington
Lyman Hall-HK- 18 points (Shepaug-Litchfield-Nonnewaug, RMR- 22 points)
Hall-Southington- 30 points (Newington-Berlin, Wethersfield- 38 points)

15) Wethersfield @ 2) Newtown
Wethersfield- 11 points .250% (Suffield, Simsbury, Hall-Southington, Guilford- 39 points .400%)
Newtown- 39 points (Joel Barlow, Tri-Town- 44 points)

-Masuk has locked up a #1 seed.
-EO Smith-Tolland can gain a #2 seed if they win out.
-Eastern CT Eagles, Stamford are eliminated from contention.
-Wethersfield is currently in with a .267 but has four difficult games left on their schedule.

17) Norwalk-McMahon
Norwalk-McMahon- 6 points .158% (Joel Barlow- 8 points .200%)
18) Stamford
Stamford- 10 points .150% (no remaining games)
19) Rocky Hill-Middletown-RHAM
RMR- 4 points .118% (Newington-Berlin, BCR, Lyman Hall-HK- 19 points .250%)
20) Eastern CT Eagles
Eastern CT Eagles- 3 points .053% (St. Bernard-NFA-Bacon- 5 .100%)

FCIAC Tournament Field Set

The FCIAC tournament field is set and will begin tomorrow.  All games to be played at Terry Connors Rink.
Friday 2/28
6:10 (3) New Canaan vs. (6) Fairfield Warde-Ludlowe
8:10 (2) Ridgefield vs. (7) St. Joseph

Saturday 3/1
2:20 (4) Trinity Catholic vs. (5) Greenwich
4:20 (1) Darien vs. (8) Staples-Weston-Shelton

Semifinals 3/5 @ 6:00 and 8:00
Championship 3/8 @ 3:00

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Top 10's Updated

Top 10's have been updated!  Tabs are above!  All #1's stay the same despite pushes from other hot teams.

A Jersey Challenge Champion Crowned

Congratulations Wilton! In a landmark vote, Wilton defeated North Haven 837-828. The Wilton Warriors are the CTHSHockey Jersey Challenge Champions!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bracketology (2/25)

Today, I'm posting Bracketology with a focus on teams making it into the tournament on the back end. In D1, all 16 teams will make the tourney. The only adjustment may be with any teams below a winning percentage of 40%. This, right now, applies to three teams. Regardless of total points, these teams would be seeded below the last team to qualify and then arranged by points among themselves.  At D2, right now 13 teams have qualified. That means 3 of 9 teams are battling for the final spots. They are selected based on the best three winning percentages and then arranged by total points. At D3, 11 teams have qualified. That means 5 of 9 teams are battling for the final five spots and the rule applies for them too.

16) St. Joseph @ 1) Darien
9) West Haven @ 8) Glastonbury

12) Northwest Catholic @ 5) ND Fairfield
13) Greenwich @ 4) Fairfield Prep

11) Simsbury @ 6) New Canaan
14) Hamden @ 3) Ridgefield

10) Xavier @ 7) East Haven
15) South Windsor @ 2) ND West Haven

Darien, Ridgefield and New Canaan all have finished up their regular season slate so they can be leapt. NDWH, Prep, NDF, Glastonbury, WH, NWC, Greenwich and SW all have favorable schedules here on out and can move up. Simsbury, Xavier, EH and Hamden have schedules that are considered challenging here on out. Hamden has two tough games to finish up and if South Windsor wins enough to get over 40%, as I anticipate them doing, Hamden would fall to the 15 seed. SJ can not finish any higher than 16.

Best Matchup- (10) Xavier @ (7) East Haven- Xavier continues their climb up the rankings. East Haven has built up a strong record but is largely unproven. This one would be extremely closely contested.

Upset Alert- (14) Hamden @ (3) Ridgefield- I wouldn't want to draw a perennial power like Hamden and veteran coach Bill Verneris in a first round high/low seed game like this. After all, Ridgefield narrowly snuck by Hamden 2-1 a week ago.

Yawner- (13) Greenwich @ (4) Fairfield Prep- A 13 seed is high even for a Greenwich team that has played well of late. This would be quite the favorable draw for Prep.

16) Wilton @ 1) East Catholic
9) Cheshire @ 8) Amity

12) Suffield-Granby-WL @ 5) Newington-Berlin
13) Daniel Hand @ 4) Trinity Catholic

11) North Branford @ 6) BCR
14) Fermi-Enfield @ 3) North Haven

10) Milford Co-op @ 7) New Milford
15) Fairfield Co-op @ 2) Branford

D2 and D3 are a lot more tricky than D1 simply because of the number of teams. 13 teams qualify because they are over 40%. Fermi-Enfield (.344), Fairfield (.368) and Wilton (.342) have the three best winning percentages of the remaining teams. Therefore, they make it and are then reseeded based on total points. This wouldn't really affect Fermi or Fairfield as they would be in either way but does greatly help Wilton who in terms of points is ranked 18th. It bumps Conard who would be the 16th seed if it was based on points but Conard has a much less impressive winning percentage of (.235). 

Only Trinity Catholic, Newington-Berlin and Daniel Hand have what I consider favorable schedules here on out and should move up. East Catholic, Branford, BCR, New Milford, North Branford and Milford all have average to tough remaining schedules while Amity, Suffield, Fermi, BBC, Conard, Guilford and Farmington Valley have what I'd consider very difficult roads here on out. Teams like North Haven, Cheshire, Fairfield, WP, Wilton, and Trumbull all have one game remaining that should be considered challenging.

Right now, barring some serious surprises it appears BBD, Guilford, Trumbull and Farmington Valley are done.

Best Matchup- (9) Cheshire@ (8) Amity- This is a repeat from last week. No reason to change it. If the Rams and Spartans met up it would be an old fashioned, classic SCC tilt.

Upset Alert- (10) Milford @ (7) New Milford)- Not a big stretch here. The Indians were able to pull the "upset" last week in overtime. This could easily be our "Best Matchup" as well.

Yawner- (14) Fermi-Enfield vs. (3) North Haven- The seeds changed but the game didn't. North Haven should be able to handle Fermi quite easily.

17) Conard (.235)
18) Watertown-Pomperaug (.289)
19) BBD (.167)
20) Guilford (.188)
21) Trumbull (.211)
22) Farmington Valley (.167)

16) St. Bernard-NFA-Bacon @ 1) Masuk
9) Tri-Town @ 8) Housatonic-NW-Wamogo

12) Westhill @ 5) EO Smith-Tolland
13) Shepaug-Litchfield-Nonnewaug @ 4) Sheehan

11) Woodstock Academy @ 6) Hall-Southington
14) Joel Barlow @ 3) NFI

10) Lyman Hall-HK @ 7) Staples-Weston-Shelton
15) Wethersfield @ 2) Newtown

As of now, 11 teams have qualified for the state tournament with winning percentages over 40%. Westhill (.316), Shepaug (.278), Joel Barlow (.235), Wethersfield (.214), and St. Bernard-NFA-Bacon (.176) have the next five highest winning percentages of the remaining teams. Therefore, they make it and are reseeded based on points. This helps a team like St. B's who would not make the tournament simply based on points but hurts a team like Stamford who would be the 15 seed if we were solely going by points but has a (.158) winning percentage. St. B's and Norwalk have matching (.176) so St. B's got in "By Lot." Sheehan and EO also finish tied but Sheehan gained the higher seed "By Lot." Wethersfield sneaks in as a 15 seed because of their (.214) winning percentage but with six games remaining, all of which they will be the underdog in, they are likely to drop out. Barring a miracle, RMR and Eastern CT Eagles are probably out.

Masuk, Newtown, Sheehan and Lyman Hall-HK have what are considered favorable schedules here on out and should move up or stay up. NFI, EO Smith-Tolland and Hall-Southington all have average to tough remaining schedules while Housatonic, Tri-Town, Woodstock, Shepaug, Wethersfield, St. B's, RMR, Norwalk and Eastern CT all have what I'd consider very difficult roads here on out. Teams like Staples, Westhill, Joel Barlow and Stamford all have one game remaining that should be considered challenging.

Best Matchup- (9) Tri-Town @ (8) Housatonic-NW-Wamogo- Housy finds themselves slipping each time we rerank. Tri-Town can compete with most D3's. This one would be close and I'm not confident in either team to predict a winner. A true 8/9 matchup.

Upset Alert- No real upsets present themselves with the exception of maybe (12) Westhill keeping it close with (5) EO Smith but I think the Bucks are strong enough that I can't officially call for that upset.

Yawner- (16) St. Bernard-NFA-Bacon vs. (1) Masuk- See the last couple week's posts. Somehow this matchup keeps coming up. It would be ugly.

17) Norwalk-McMahon
18) Stamford
19) Rocky Hill-Middletown-RHAM
20) Eastern CT Eagles