No Super 8, no problem – Boston Herald

Make it 31 years of data.

The question that surrounded much of the Div. 1 hockey field in the sport’s first year without a Super 8 since 1990 wasn’t actually much of a question. Many felt the Catholic schools would dominate, and while we still saw a gripping finish down to the final, that prophecy played out with top-seeded St. John’s Prep facing No. 2 Xaverian for the title.

But while the end result was somewhat predictable, the path wasn’t. This first year with six divisions and a state-wide tournament was compelling, and the MIAA power rankings were mostly spot on – for the boys, at least.

Of the seven games from the Div. 1 quarterfinal round until the final, the only game not decided by two or less goals was the title matchup. St. John’s Prep may have clinched its first championship since 2015, but it almost didn’t get there after No. 13 BC High came within 52 seconds of reaching the final. Xaverian’s path was just as tough, as Arlington put up one of the state’s greatest comeback bids in history in the semifinals, and Belmont showed its strength under first-year head coach Tim Foley with a 2-1 quarterfinal loss.

Marshfield, Hingham and Reading succeeded in the inaugural Ed Burns “Coffee Pot” Tournament to show their worth as postseason threats. Malden Catholic seniors reversed a 1-19 freshman year by winning a postseason game.

The Canton boys team attempted a three-peat in Div. 2, riding a 22-game win streak into the final. But Tewksbury got its revenge from 2019 to cap off a historic season.

It seemed the only team that could stop Canton was Tewksbury, as the Bulldogs coasted past a No. 2 Gloucester group boasting elite scoring. Masconomet nearly got a shot at the eventual champions, but Duxbury outlasted it in overtime in a quarterfinal. Norwood suffered a controversial loss to Gloucester with a whistle from the stands, playing a role in its season ending.

Hanover finished what it started from a 2020 co-championship, outlasting top-seeded Marlboro and its potent offense in the Div. 3 final.

Essex Tech and Dighton-Rehoboth / Seekonk each won their first-ever playoff games. Danvers overcame offseason turmoil by revamping its culture toward a quarterfinal run. Nashoba ended undefeated seasons for Marlboro and Hopedale, but came up short to Scituate.

The Sailors’ matchup with Hanover was one of three semifinals between league / conference rivals across the state. Lynnfield’s path didn’t carry the same allure, but posed a serious title threat until falling 3-2 to Marlboro.

Very little separated the final four teams in Div. 4, evident in the double-overtime finish for Sandwich to take the crown over Watertown. Sandwich also needed double overtime to down top-seeded Norwell. Danny Storella’s historic scoring for Stoneham was electric, but it wasn’t enough to overpower Watertown’s defense.

The Austin Prep girls team sealed a 27-0 season with a win over No. 2 Arlington in the Div. 1 final. Its 156-11 goal differential on the year proved borderline untouchable, and if it weren’t for them, the Spy Ponders likely would’ve taken the crown.

The girls’ side of the sport had more questions with seeding, as No. 21 Billerica / Chelmsford, No. 22 Stoneham / Wilmington, No. 23 Newton Co-op and No. 25 Reading provided intrigue with first-round “upsets,” though none could keep the magic going.

The wildest finish came in the girls’ Div. 2 bracket, as all four of the final teams were seeded fifth or lower to resist the MIAA’s power rankings. Algonquin topped No. 9 Canton in overtime to win the championship as the No. 10 seed. Medfield reached the semifinals at No. 22.

Top-seeded Duxbury was the favorite all year, steamrolling mostly until losing to Canton for a second time in the quarterfinal. No. 15 Winchester made a strong bid with a win over No. 2 Braintree and took Algonquin to overtime. Norwell posted the upset of the playoffs as the 30th seed knocking off No. 3 King Philip. Archbishop Williams fulfilled preseason hype to upset No. 4 Pembroke, making it so all but one of the top four seeds were upset by seeds in double-digits.

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