The prep league playoffs are here again and it’s sure to be another wild year as we’ve seen every team win big games, every team drop some tough ones, and per usual, the parity in the league is here. The 3x defending champion Gonzaga Eagles are back in the plofs as the 7 seed, and Mt St Joe has made their first tourney appearance in team history. Last year, we saw all four lower seeds win in the first roud for the first time in league playoffs, and it’d be no surprise if the same were to happen again this year.
#1 St. John’s (8-1-1) vs #8 Spalding (2-4-4)
Tuesday the 18th, – Rockville Rink 1
Season head-to-head: St. Johns – 5 @ Spalding – 2 (MAPHL)
St. Johns – 5 vs Spalding – 2 (Purple Puck)
It’s the 1 vs 8 match-up as the Cadets are prepared for a long playoff run after a dominating year running through MAPHL league play, winning the Purple Puck, and boasting a solid non-league record as well. St. John’s finished as the 2 seed last year but fell victim to St. Albans at home in the first round losing 4-3, so you have to imagine they’ll have that chip on their shoulder coming into this years playoffs. Their lone regular season loss came against a solid O’Connell team on the road a few weeks back, followed by a tie vs another great team in Landon. Their 57 goals for are 2nd most in the league and are lead by a high scoring duo in Quinn Kennedy (8-23–31) and Dimitry Kebreau (18-9–27) as well as senior captain blue liner Patrick Champman to lead the defensive line in front of two stud goalies in Hornbecker (4-0-0) and Ziffer (4-1-1). They’re the one seed, and should be the favorite, because if this Cadets team is wheelin’ at 100%, they’ll be near impossible to beat as we’ve seen all season.
The first and and maybe only team that will have something to say about that is Spalding, who’s coming off a year in which they found themselves in the MAPHL championship game only to lose to Gonzaga. Spalding snuck into the 8th seed this year by a single point, largely in part to their four ties, which a lot of credit, if not all, should be going to Colin Berke who faced 379 shots this season, including 60+ in a 0-0 tie vs DeMatha, 45 in a 2-1 win over Georgetown Prep, and 30+ in a 2-2 tie vs O’Connell. This is a Cavs team that only scored 19 goals in league play, so all eyes will be on Berke, and if he’s on his A game, Spalding can muck it up, score 2 goals, and ride their goalie back to potentially another deep run.
#2 Georgetown Prep (7-2-1) vs #7 Gonzaga (5-5-0)
Tuesday the 18th, 3:00 PM – Cabin John
Season head-to-head: Gonzaga – 4 @ Georgetown Prep – 2 (non-league)
Gonzaga – 2 @ Georgetown Prep – 3 (MAPHL)
This is a WILD 2 vs 7 match-up as we have one of the more consistent and dominant teams this year in the Little Hoyas facing off against the three time defending champs and highly skilled Gonzaga Eagles. Georgetown Prep has been checking off opponents left and right and saw themselves at 7-1 with their lone loss to the top ranked St John’s team. They had two games left in the season… Bullis and Spalding. Those were, and should have been, must wins for this Georgetown Prep team, and if they were, they’d be in first place and playing Spalding instead of the Eagles, which as we know, is a pretty big difference. That’s definitely NOT how you want to end the regular season, with a tie and loss. Remember last year? First round… 3rd period… 3-0 lead on Spalding? Yeahhhhh, well.. they lost that 4-3 in OT, so like the Cadets, expect them to come in with a chip on their back. GP goes as Chaconas goes, as he leads the team with 9-8–17, and will rely on Tendy Granston who played all 10 league games putting up a 1.79 GAA and .894 SV%. The only thing that worries me has been their lack of scoring as of late, and they’ll need to find their offensive rhythm if they wanna make a run, especially after being shut out by Landon in the IAC championship.
The road team, as we mentioned, THREE time defending champs. They’ve been here, they know what to do, how to handle themselves, and most importantly… how to win big games. Their five losses this year all came against playoff teams, which doesn’t make you really feel great in terms of a tough battle. I’m sure you’ll hear “didn’t have a full roster” for a handful of games, but that’s a tale as old as times. It’s going to be a daunting task for a four-peat, but behind veteran play makers in Farrell Dinn (hatty in last year chip, 13-10–23 this year) and Luca Docking (5-11–16) they’re going to be a TOUGH out. It’s tough to guess who they’ll start and ride in net, but a WCAC championship in tonight’s game could juice up the birds and help Sammy decide on who gets the nod in net come next week.
#3 Landon (6-2-2) vs #6 Bishop O’Connell (4-3-3)
Tuesday the 18th, 5:00 PM – Rockville Rink 2
Season head-to-head: O’Connell – 4 vs Landon – 4 (MAPHL)
Landon was a streaky team this season, kicking off the season winning four straight before going 0-2-1 in their following three. They followed that again by a two game winning streak then finishing the campaign with a tie. Their two losses and ties? All four playoff teams, especially their head-to-head vs O’Connell in which the Bears saw themselves with a 4-3 lead with less than 20 seconds left until O’Connell got a late tie to save a point and steal one from Landon. If this team is gonna be successful, it’s going to be behind some big goals from Will Lawrence (13-6–19) who is a STUD, and can put the puck in the back of the net every time it’s on his stick. The Bears are riding high into the playoffs after dominating Georgetown Prep in the IAC championship game 5-0.
We’ve had Flip on the pod a few times this year, and it’s weird, because if you ask him, he think’s this is the best team he’s had in years despite their worse league finish in years. I guess you can call them a sleep at #6? But anyone can win in this league, especially this loaded and very deep Knights team. They’ve got speed and can jump on you quick with veteran leaders in Vouras and Fielman and young guns in Egornouv and El-Bashir. A show that this O’Connell team is legit is their two match-up vs St Johns, where they won the league game and lost in a shootout at Purple Puck. This game won’t be anything short of bananas, and definitely one of the ones to watch in this quarterfinal.
#4 Mt. St, Joe’s (5-3-2) vs #5 DeMatha (5-4-1)
Tuesday the 18th, 3:30 PM – The Gardens Ice House
Season head-to-head: Mt. St. Joes – 3 @ DeMatha – 1
Shout out to the Gaels for the the first playoff berth, and a top seed with home ice advantage at that. They started hot with two big wins over DeMatha and Gonzaga, then went on a stretch of five games going 1-3-1 before winning two of their last three. Their three losses came against tough playoff teams, so we’ll see how battle tested they are in their first playoff appearance. They’ve got balanced scoring across the board, led by Westlake and Robinson, and just shutout Spalding 3-0 for the MIAA conference title at Piney and will be heading into the ploofs on a high note.
DeMatha on the other hand, is DeMatha. Well coached, deep, balanced, and an all around good hockey team year in and year out. The Stags are coming in with revenge on their mind after being knocked out in the quarters last season as the 1 seed. Tony is still chasing that elusive MAPHL title despite winning multiple WCAC championships, and a chance at another tonight vs Gonzaga after dispatching O’Connell 4-0 in the semis. I fell this is a favorable match-up for the stags, as that loss to MSJ was in game 2 of their 29 game to date season, so they’ve grown and gelled a little more, and with the “away game” being right in laurel, they’ll have their own locker room and feel right at home and ready to push for a title on the backs of Mercier and Leydig.