New England Hockey Journal’s preseason power rankings of the region’s top boys’ prep teams:
1. Salisbury School — This team simply has the best players on paper. There is a lot of NCAA Division 1 potential on this team.
2. Kent — Cristoval “Boo” Nieves is the best forward in the league. It’s a good bet he can lead the team to the finals again this season.
3. Cushing — It seems that every year Cushing is one of the top teams in the league. This season is no different.
4. Westminster — Returns its top offensive line, which left its mark last season.
5. Lawrence Academy — This is a team with a lot of depth and experience; should make the Elite Eight easily.
6. Milton — The defending prep champion took a hit from graduation, but will still be a solid team.
7. Kimball Union Academy — Took a hit from the loss of Dennis Kravchenko, but will still be competitive.
8. Avon Old Farms — Always a strong team, Avon will be on the cusp of the big tournament this season.
9. Governor’s — Good team with Nathan Ferriero leading the way.
10. Nobles — The loss of Matt Harlow hurts the team, but look for Andrew Doane to help continue Nobles’ winning ways.
11. Buckingham, Browne & Nichols — Good group of players coming back, including Matt Pugh.
12. Choate — Ben Foster will have a huge role on this team. Expect Choate to be in it until the end.
13. Belmont Hill — Lost a lot of players in the offseason, dropping their ranking back.
14. South Kent — Returns some of the keys from a solid team last season.
15. Tilton — Returns a powerful offense with forwards such as Anthony Flaherty and Kyle Larson.
16. St. Sebastian’s — This team has the makings of a phenomenal offense this season.
17. Deerfield — Junior forward Alex Gonye is poised for a big season as Deerfield should be competitive.
18. Brunswick — Had a great season last year and returns a top goaltender in Gryphon Richardson.
19. Albany — One of last season’s surprise teams lost a lot of goaltenders.
20. Exeter — Brian Hart will elevate this team, as he looks to perform well ahead of the NHL draft.
21. New Hampton — A good team in the small school tournament last season, it returns some key offensive players.
22. St. Paul’s — Look for St. Paul’s to improve after a mediocre season.
23. Groton — Groton is a young team but still has promising forward Mike Doherty.
24. Dexter — Lost Nick Bligh in the offseason, but Dexter still has the Fidler twins.
25. Williston-Northampton — Look out for Alex Paolo, who should key a winning season.
These rankings originally appeared in the December 2011 issue of New England Hockey Journal.