With three weekends to go in the regular season, there are still postseason spots and high playoff seeds up for grabs in the three boys’ divisions and girls’ league. That being said, here’s a quick rundown on where the teams in the Blackstone Valley stand heading into tonight’s action.
Mount St. Charles’s 6-3 victory over Moses Brown last Friday, followed by Burrillville’s dramatic 4-2 win over the Quakers the following night, zapped all the drama out of which four teams will battle in the ‘State Championship’ playoffs.
The Broncos, who became the first public school in two years to defeat a private school with their resounding victory, upped their record to 9-5, but more importantly, have 12.2 power points, almost three more than the Quakers, who are 6-7-1 and have 9.4 points.
With four games left, all against the three public schools near the bottom of the standings (two against Cranston West, one each against Lincoln and North Kingstown), Burrillville would need to go into the tank in order to fall out of the top four.
Moses Brown, meanwhile, would need to win three out of its four remaining games, and that’s easier said than done, because their next two contests are against first-place Bishop Hendricken (12-1-1), and then they play La Salle (8-4-1) and Mount (8-5).
The four-time defending champion Mounties have 13.8 power points, the same number as La Salle, and while the four-time defending champions may not catch the Hawks (20.2 power points) for the top seed, they can certainly make a bid for second place.
They have five games remaining and will play each of their parochial rivals once to finish out the season. Tonight’s 9 p.m. game against Lincoln at Adelard Arena and tomorrow’s 7 p.m. game at Smithfield should be their last easy weekend of the year.
As for the Lions (3-7-1), they are on the outside looking in as far as the ‘Division I’ title race goes. The fifth through eighth finishers in the division will compete for the ‘secondary’ title, and right now, the ninth-place Lions are chasing Cranston West (4-6-2) for the final spot.
The Lions have six games left, including three over the next four days, and after playing the Mounties, they will wrap up the regular season facing off with their public-school peers.
On Monday, the Lions will visit the Falcons in a very significant 5:30 p.m. game in Cranston, and among their remaining games are ones against sixth-place Barrington (6-7-1) and seventh-place Smithfield (5-8-1).
Cranston West is in the same boat as Lincoln – six games to play, three in the next four nights, and a tough test tonight against a parochial school (La Salle).
The top four teams in each of the North and South divisions will play bonus hockey next month, and right now, Cumberland already has a return trip to the playoffs locked up.
But where will the Clippers end up in the standings? Back-to-back losses to Pilgrim, 3-2, on Friday and Coventry, 9-0, on Saturday dropped them to 10-3-1, but still kept them in first place with 21 points because the Patriots (9-2-1) and Oakers (10-1) each own 20 points, but have played fewer games.
The Clippers, who no thanks to the injury bug, dressed just 16 players in those two defeats, have four games left that promise to be challenging, starting with tomorrow’s 9 p.m. game at Adelard against the fourth-place St. Raphael/Providence Country Day/Wheeler co-op team (6-5-3).
Next weekend, they will battle a Toll Gate team that battled them to a 1-0 loss earlier in the season, and they will wrap up their regular season with a President’s Day game at Thayer Arena against Pilgrim and a Feb. 24 clash against the defending champion Oakers, who currently own a 10-game win streak.
As for the SRA/PCD co-op squad, they hold a five-point cushion over fifth-place Toll Gate (4-10-1), but the rest of their regular-season schedule is a brutal one that also includes games against Pilgrim, Coventry, and a North Smithfield team that has won three of its last four games.
Toll Gate’s final three games are against Coventry, Cumberland, and winless Ponaganset.
Five of the six playoff berths have already been locked up by the defending champion Johnston/North Providence co-op team (11-1), East Providence (9-2), Mount Hope (8-3), Tolman (8-4), and Cranston East (7-4). The sixth berth will go to either Scituate (3-7) or the West Warwick/Exeter-West Greenwich co-op team (2-8).
The top two finishers in the standings will earn a berth into the Division III semifinals, and while Johnston/ North Providence has a firm grasp on one of those spots, the other four teams are zeroing in on the other seed.
The Townies may have the easiest road to landing it. Not only do they still have a home-and-away series with Cranston East, but they are also playing winless Woonsocket and a Warwick Vets team that has just 10 players and is in immediate danger of folding.
The Tigers, who have four games left, also have a fairly easy finish to the regular season. Tonight, they will take on the West Warwick/EWG co-op team at 9:30 p.m. at the West Warwick Civic center, and tomorrow at 9:30 p.m., they will entertain the Villa Novans at Lynch Arena.
After that, they have a game next weekend against Scituate and a Feb. 25 finale at home against Cranston East remaining.
Like the boys’ Division I format, the top four girls’ teams will be battling for the ‘State Championship’ crown, and the fifth through eighth will vie for the ‘Division I’ title.
As expected, two-time defending champion Mount St. Charles (13-1) and second-place La Salle (11-2) have locked up the top two seeds, but the third and fourth spots have yet to be determined among the East Bay (Barrington, Mount Hope, and Portsmouth) co-op squad (9-4-1), Bay View (7-5-1), the Warwick (Warwick Vets, Pilgrim, and Toll Gate) co-op team (9-4), and the Burrillville/Ponaganset co-op team (7-6).
The Mounties only need to capture one of their final two games -- tomorrow Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Adelard Arena against Burrillville/Ponaganset or Sunday in Providence against La Salle -- in order to sew up the top seed and a share of the regular-season crown.
As for Division I, two of the four mentioned teams on the bubble for ‘State Championship’ berths will be the fifth and sixth seeds, but the last two spots are up for grabs among the Cranston co-op team (5-8-1), North Smithfield (5-7-1), and the South County (North Kingstown, Narragansett, and South Kingstown) co-op team (5-10).
The Northmen, who have three games to play, only need to win one of them in order to return to the playoffs. They will visit Cranston tomorrow at 6:10 p.m., and the following Saturday, they will host winless Smithfield at the Rhode Island Sports Center.