I apologize for taking so long to put this together, but at long last, here’s a Super 7 for hockey. Expect them on a regular basis at midweek. (All records updated through Jan. 24)
1. Cardinal O’Hara (5-8-0)
The record isn’t terribly impressive. But the Lions play in AAA, a notoriously tough league that includes the likes of La Salle, Malvern, St. Joseph’s Prep and Holy Ghost Prep. It’s cause for concern that their only two AAA wins have been one-goal decisions against an undermanned and overmatched Archbishop Carroll team, but they’re 3-1 out of league. Those nonleague wins include toppling Springfield (hence the No. 1 spot) and an 11-1 thrashing of Garnet Valley. Playing down to opposition may be a concern, but they’ve got two very solid scoring lines, can roll three or four lines without much problem and as good a defense as there is in the county.
2. Springfield (9-2-1)
It’s concerning that the Cougars are without a nonleague win this season, losing their only two attempts to West Chester East and Cardinal O’Hara. But the former team is the leader of the Ches-Mont, and there’s something to be said for the consistency with which they’ve mowed down Central League opponents at a 9-0-1 clip. An 8-0 win over Haverford is indicative of the gap between the teams in the Central League.
3. Penncrest (8-4-0)
Both Penncrest and Garnet Valley are tied with 14 points from 11 Central League games this season heading into the Friday’s (likely postponed) tilt. Penncrest took round one, 2-1. They’re a character team that doesn’t have much in terms of numbers – I counted 11 skaters in their game against Haverford Tuesday – and their defense is suspect at times. And while they only have around two lines to rely on, they are high quality. We’ll see if hat-trick hero Matthew Ohrenich’s return shifts the balance.
4. Garnet Valley (8-5-0)
Fair or not, I can’t shake the image of the Jaguars being shellacked by O’Hara, 11-1. I’m willing to write it off as an outlier for goaltender Jordan Sivick, who has been much better at times. The defensive shortcomings are tough to paper over, but it seems the return of Nicco Gricco (with five goals and seven points in five games) has provided a jolt of energy and given the Jags another scoring line as the playoffs approach.
5. Radnor (5-6-1)
The Red Raiders are among the most top-heavy scoring teams in the league, with Dalton Morris, Oliver Brotman and Eric Gorson accounting for 46 percent of the scoring. That fickle nature of production leads to highs like a win over Penncrest and lows like a loss to Haverford. They close with Haverford, Penncrest, Garnet Valley and Conestoga. Something like a 3-1 record in that junket will solidify qualifications as true contenders.
6. Upper Darby (9-5-0)
The Royals win over Penncrest Nov. 2 seems a long time ago. But they’ve split a pair of games with Lower Merion, their other Central B contender, and also have a win over Haverford. They have just two league games left – Strath Haven and Garnet Valley – meaning they’ll likely see Lower Merion and its backloaded schedule pass them for the Central B title.
7. Haverford (5-7-0)
I can’t help but think that this is a team that should be better. After all, they beat Radnor, trounced O’Hara and had Penncrest beaten for 47 minutes. They’re afflicted by a thin squad and some defensive woes, but they have a very solid goalie in Joey Harant. The Fords need more consistency from the top line centered by Kevin Leyden. They have six games remaining and lots of chances to pick up points, including meetings with Central B opposition Harriton, Marple Newtown and Ridley.