CT High School Hockey Playoffs: Bubble Teams, Numbers and Whatnot

It’s boy’s high school hockey playoff time again in Connecticut and in the days leading up to the final brackets being released, some interesting stories are playing out.

First there are still a few bubble teams in each division that need another win in order to get the requisite 8 in order to qualify:

Div. Team Record Games Left Notes
1 North Haven 7-12-0 @West Haven (3/1) North Haven lost 4-0 to West Haven at home earlier this season. Playing on the road in Bennett Rink is never a desirable scenario for anyone – let alone for a team whose playoff fate is on the line.
2 Branford 7-12-0 Milford (3/2) Coach Brink’s squad has had an up-and-down year, but the offensively challenged Indians might be just what the doctor ordered for the Hornets to punch their ticket into the playoffs.
3 Sheehan 7-12-0 St. Bernard-Bacon-NFA (3/3) The Titans came out of the gates hot, starting this season 5-3-0. Their season cooled quickly, though, as they spun into a 1-9-0 run, before knocking off Hall-Southington on Monday. A suddenly hot St. Bernard-Bacon-NFA stands in between them and a playoff berth.

Next, the low numbers of teams actually qualifying in all three divisions is both surprising and disappointing. People have attributed this to a lot of things from the prep school/junior hockey talent drain to an overall declining interest in the sport, to just a simple fluke year. Pick your doomsday scenario; they’re probably all contributing factors.

What does this mean for the future of high school hockey in this state, though? First off, it probably means we should move back to a two-division system. Division 3 has always had a problem fielding 16 teams to fill a playoff bracket; now it appears Division 2, which at most will field 11 teams this season, is experiencing the same. A possible solution:

  1. Get rid of Division 3 all together.
  2. Move the deeper, more competitive D2 teams up to Division 1. (think: Cheshire, Wilton, Trumbull, etc.)
  3. Merge the remaining D2 and D3 teams together in Division 2.
  4. Create a “Super 8”, similar to what Massachusetts does, where the top 8 teams in D1 compete for a “1A” championship.
  5. The remainder of the Division 1 teams play for the regular D1 championship.
  6. Division 2 teams play for a single D2 championship.

Hell, it can’t be any worse that the “let’s put everyone in order of points” debacle the CIAC tried (and failed with) in 2006 and 2007. In case you don’t remember, that system had D1 teams winning both the D1 and D2 titles and a D2 team winning the D3 title each year. Marvelous.

At least by cordoning the top 8 (think: Prep, Hamden, the ND’s), you give other programs a shot at a D1 title. The facts don’t lie: Since 1990, only 8 programs have won a D1 title.

Team # Championships Years Won
Fairfield Prep 9 1991, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008
Notre Dame-West Haven 3 1993, 1997, 2002
Notre Dame-Fairfield 2 1999, 2006
Hamden 2 2009, 2010
West Haven 2 1990, 1994
Simsbury 1 2003
Trinity Catholic 1 1998
Greenwich 1 1992

By removing the top teams and having them play each other, you at least level the playing field for some of the other teams out there. Just a thought…

The New Canaan girl’s hockey team is playing like an absolute beast this year and is the odds-on favorite to take home a state title. They score goals in bunches, play solid defense and have, arguably, one of the best female players this state has seen in sophomore Olivia Hompe. Through 23 games, Hompe has 102 points – a new state record. (The old record of 96 points was held by her sister Xandra, currently a sophomore on the Cornell University Women’s Ice hockey team.) After defeating Guilford 8-0 on Monday, the Rams move on to face North Haven/Amity in the state semifinals this Wednesday @ 6PM in Darien.

In the other girl’s semifinal game, Ridgefield takes on Darien at 8PM at Darien. Ridgefiled is coming off a 5OT win versus Simsbury on Monday.