After a 2020-21 season that didn’t crown a state champion due to the coronavirus, Massachusetts high school hockey is expected to be back to normal this winter.
Ryan Leonard, the top player in high school hockey the past two seasons, has left Pope Francis to play for USA Hockey’s NTDP. A number of other promising underclassmen, including Pope Francis teammates Ryan Shaw and Matt Hanscom, Austin Prep’s Ty Wood and Reading’s Cullen Emery, are off to Westminster, Lawrence and Dexter Southfield, respectively. Melrose winger Brendan Fennell and Pope Francis center Brandon Spaulding graduated and are off to do postgraduate years at Hill and Avon Old Farms, respectively.
While Leonard leaves a tremendous void in high-end talent, there remains a handful of Division 1 college hockey prospects across the MIAA landscape. Arlington center Jack Sadowski (Arlington, Mass.) and Malden Catholic defenseman Owen Keefe (Saugus, Mass.), both sophomores and teammates with the Boston Junior Eagles 16-U, are the clear-cut top prospects skating in the MIAA.
Sadowski and Keefe certainly will receive a lot of phone calls on Jan. 1 when sophomores are legally allowed to be contacted by college coaches. The pair will be leaders of two of the top teams north of Boston. Junior center Ryan Flaherty (Milton, Mass.) and sophomore left wing James Marshall (Weymouth, Mass.) will bolster a BC High program looking to regain its perch atop the MIAA.
By watching a lot of hockey over the past 12 months, whether it be last year’s regular season, fall hockey, or summer showcases, I’ve come up with a “Super 8,” a look at eight notable young prospects who will turn heads during the 2021-22 MIAA season.