Monday, May 2, 2016

Central Mass Lax Power Rankings: Week 5

Matt Cannon netted the game-winner in Algonquin's double-overtime victory over Western Mass power Westfield Saturday.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

For the first time all year we have a new No. 1, as a mild upset and continued success by the Top-2 teams in Mid-Wach A shook up the top of our Power Rankings.

Let's not waste any more time, here is this week's Top-10.

1. Algonquin: 8-2, 5-0 Mid-Wach A. D2 Central/West

Last Week: Ranked No. 2. Defeated No. 5 Wachusett 9-5, Shrewsbury 9-5 and Westfield 9-8 (2OT)

The Tomahawks seize the top spot in our rankings, thanks to big wins over Wachusett and Western Mass force Westfield, along with an always hard-fought victory over rival Shrewsbury. When Matt Cannon's game winner hit the back of the net against the Bombers Saturday, the T-Hawks, who have also defeated our new No. 2 this season, became our new No. 1.

Gonk won't get much time to celebrate, though, as a highly anticipated rematch awaits the T-Hawks on Thursday, followed by a trip to Hingham on Saturday.

2. Westboro: 7-1, 4-1 Mid-Wach A. D2 Central/West

Last Week: Ranked No. 3. Defeated Tantasqua 14-11, Nashoba 13-5 and No. 1 Grafton 6-5.

Speaking of that new No. 2, Westboro grabs this spot thanks to a slugfest win over former No. 1 Grafton. Westboro has now won six in a row since dropping the second game of the year to Algonquin, winning with both a high-powered offense led by Trevor McNamara, and a stingy defense anchored by goalie Jeff Bernard.

The Rangers can make a case for No. 1 this week, when a rematch with Algonquin finally comes Thursday, but they'll have to take care of business against underrated Shepherd Hill on Tuesday first.

3. Grafton: 7-2, 4-0 Mid-Mass. D3 Central/West

Last Week: Ranked No. 1. Defeated Northbridge 15-1. Lost to No. 3 Westboro 6-5.

It almost feels wrong to drop the Indians two spots for a one-goal loss against a great team. But, Westboro had to jump Grafton after that game, and Algonquin had already beaten Westboro (not to mention had a great week itself), so here we are.

The Indians may still be the region's most complete team, and they'll get some familiar foes this week to get back on track. Grafton makes a trip to Tantasqua Tuesday, before returning home to face Worcester on Thursday.

4. St. John's: 6-2, 1-0 Catholic Conf. D2 Central/West

Last Week: Ranked No. 4. Defeated South Hadley 13-4.

The Pioneers had a relatively quiet week, but their powerful attack continued to roll, as Drew Kozub dropped six goals on visiting South Hadley. This week should be a bit more stressful, as St. John's first makes a trip to Westford on Monday, then returns home to face Western Mass power Minnechaug on Wednesday. Then, another Mid-Wach challenge looms with a Saturday trip to Groton-Dunstable.

5. Wachusett: 8-3, 3-2 Mid-Wach A. D2 Central/West

Last Week: Ranked No. 5. Defeated Leominster 13-6 and Nashoba 15-13. Lost to No. 2 Algonquin 9-5.

The Mountaineers opened the week with a tough loss to Algonquin, but bounced back by knocking off two talented teams in different fashions. Wachusett's balanced offense will be tested with a pair of road games this week. Tuesday they hit the road to try and keep pace with Curtiss Vachonn and St. Bernard's, then Thursday they try to complete the season sweep of always tough Shrewsbury.

6. Littleton: 8-1, 4-0 Mid-Wach B. D3 Central/East

Last Week: Ranked No. 6. Defeated Oakmont 11-8 and Bromfield 11-2.

The Tigers have won three in a row since Groton-Dunstable spoiled their perfect start, and they've scored 10 more more goals in eight of nine games. Sneaky tough road games await Littleton this week against Lunenburg Tuesday and Leominster Thursday.

7. Marlboro: 6-1, 3-0 Mid-Wach C. D2 Central/West

Last Week: Ranked No. 7. Defeated Nashoba 15-7 and Hudson 16-6.

The Panthers weren't really challenged last week, and senior Jason Plaunt was able to achieve a career milestone, scoring his 100th goal early against Hudson. Marlboro will host St. Peter-Marian Friday, but a show-me game comes first on Tuesday.

8. Groton-Dunstable: 6-3, 1-3 Mid-Wach A. D3 Central/East

Last Week: Ranked No. 8. Defeated Shrewsbury 14-4 and Shepherd Hill 11-9.

I was very tempted to push the Crusaders past Marlboro in my latest rankings, especially after they handled Shrewsbury and outscored a Shepherd Hill team I really like. Also, I've heard the online chirping, both in the comments section here, and on Twitter.

"G-D has played a tougher schedule than Marlboro…" "Are the Panthers really that good?"

Well, guys, we're gonna find out Tuesday when Marlboro heads to Groton-Dunstable for what should be a great one. It should also make doing the mid-to-late part of my Power Rankings easier next week…

9. Worcester: 5-3, 3-2 Mid-Mass. D2 Central/West

Last Week: Ranked No. 10. Defeated No. 9 Nipmuc 7-6. Lost to Tantasqua 7-5.

Speaking of tough calls… I was all set to confidently put WooLax at No. 9 after they topped Nipmuc on Tuesday, but then resurgent Tantasqua (our "first team out" this week) threw a wrench in the gears by beating Worcester on Friday.

Still, at the end of the day, Worcester did beat Nipmuc last week and, while they currently sit at third in Mid-Mass, that's what made up my mind in this difficult decision.

10. Nipmuc: 6-4, 4-2 Mid-Mass. D3 Central/West

Last Week: Ranked No. 9. Defeated Hopedale 8-2 and Belchertown 14-1. Lost to No. 10 Worcester 7-6.

Again, give the Warriors credit for bouncing back, but their loss to Worcester early in the week made my mind up. Now, this week will bring another chance to climb the rankings, with a Tuesday game against Northbridge and a big one Thursday against Tantasqua.

Also in the Hunt: Tantasqua (3-3), Tyngsboro (6-4), St. Bernard's (7-2), Shepherd Hill (6-6), Oakmont (3-3)


Anonymous said...

Joe, tough call on the top 4 for sure. In case you missed it 2 days after the Westboro game SJ bounced back and took BC to the wire (loss 7-6). It is sometime tough to gauge SJ given there Emass schedule.

Anonymous said...

Westboro only has 1 loss. Should be 7-1

Anonymous said...

Algonquin has only lost 1 game

Anonymous said...

Westboro beats Grafton by one and Westboro jumps ahead of them them. GD beats Littleton by 2 and is still 2 spots behind them in the rankings????? I missed something somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Well done again Joe.

Its always tough sticking your neck out there. Someone has to do it though.

As for the top four I think, as of right now, it is "any given day." They are the cream of the crop as of now:

I then tend to see the last 6 the same way. 5-10 are all solid teams that, when playing well, would be a great match-up for each other.

Season is about half over for most. Everyone needs to start playing their A game consistently to get into and then compete in the Playoffs.

All the best

Joe Parello said...

Hey guys,
First of all, as always, thanks for the feedback. I fixed the Westboro record, not sure how that happened. Maybe I was looking at the Grafton record when I was typing or something, haha.
Anyways, I get the G-D love, and I can certainly see why some people have them ranked higher. For me, it isn't just about that one game, though that is a great feather in G-D's cap. Littleton lost by two goals, away, and is still two games ahead of G-D in both the win and loss column, while Westboro has wins over St. John's and Grafton (both on the road), and only has one loss. I get the comparisons between those two situations, but to me they're a little different because of total record and quality of wins (and losses. Remember that Westboro's only loss came vs Algonquin).
All that being said: If G-D beats Marlboro tomorrow, they may jump both the Panthers and the Tigers come next week. Depends on how Littleton looks this week.
But yeah, at the end of the day, I view the Top-5 as very close. Wachusett isn't going away any time soon, and methinks St. John's is a team that's going to be MUCH better at the end of the year because of a very tough schedule. I'm pumped to see what the Pioneers do against Minnechaug Wednesday. As for Grafton and Algonquin, well, we know how loaded those two rosters are.
The next five is a little more jumbled, and I think you could throw Tantasqua into that mix as well with the way the Warriors are playing lately.
The rest of this year is gonna be a lot of fun.

Anonymous said...

SJ took down Westford today 12-6 without an injured Andrew Cox and 2 of WA goals were from a 2 minute lock in. As always a balanced offensive attack.

Anonymous said...

I think cmass is a 3 team race, who plays best that given day.

Anonymous said...

apologies 3 team race for D2, 1 for D3

Anonymous said...

big win for SJ at Westford (down 4 starters) and close loss to BC (down 2 starters) after loss to well prepared Westboro team (down 2 starters). Plus new coach, 14-16 contributors from JV settling in as well as new goalie.