The executive committee of the Maryland Scholastic Hockey League voted last week on a format for the upcoming playoffs.
As in the past, the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference and the area's public high school teams will participate. Unlike last season, however, the MIAA B Conference champion also will earn a berth.
"I think it's a great thing to have them," said MSHL commissioner Don Gensler of the B Conference teams. "It shows that we're all one big family. Now instead of saying they're the best team in a particular conference, they'll get a chance to show that they're one of the best in the state."
The MIAA will have its playoffs for both conferences early next week when the third-place teams play the second-place teams. The winners of those games will meet the No. 1-seeded team in each conference for the conference championship. Mount St. Joseph already has clinched the top seed in the A Conference. Those games will be played at Piney Orchard Ice Rink in Odenton on Feb. 14, with the B Conference game at 5 p.m., followed by the A Conference game at 7 p.m.
The winners of both titles receive an automatic bid to the MIAA playoffs. The A Conference winner will compete in Tier I while the B Conference winner will compete in Tier II. A committee will pick five at-large bids for the Tier I MIAA playoffs, so other A Conference teams also may advance.
Living on the edge
The A Conference playoff race is still up for grabs. Entering the final week of league play, only Archbishop Curley has been eliminated. St. Mary's, Calvert Hall, Spalding and Loyola are battling it out for the two remaining spots.
Calvert Hall took a big step toward securing one of the spots with a 3-1 victory over St. Mary's Friday. Tony Hiegel, Nick Volk and Mike Anderson scored the Cardinals' goals, while goalie Greg Valiquette stopped 29 shots.
The Cardinals have another test Friday, when they play Spalding at 5:15 p.m. at Ice World in Edgewood.
"We're just excited to be playing in a meaningful game late in February," said Cardinals coach Mike Shramek, whose team was 3-15-1 last year. "We set a goal of making the A Conference championship at the start of the year, and I've been telling them that it's attainable. They know what's at stake."
The team with the most difficult route could be Spalding. The Cavaliers are in fourth place, behind Mount St. Joseph, St. Mary's and Calvert Hall. The Cavaliers play undefeated Mount St. Joseph on Thursday as well as Calvert Hall.
"We're a young team, and we've been up and down this year," said Spalding coach Steve Moeglein. "I have no doubt that we're capable of [making the playoffs]; it just depends on which team shows up for us this week."
A milestone in a loss
Severn's playoff hopes took a nose dive this week when the Admirals, the defending B Conference champions, lost to St. Paul's and Boys' Latin. For the Admirals to advance, they must win at least two of their three games this week against St. Paul's, the Glenelg Country School and Gilman.
Severn had a first last week, however. In a 4-2 loss to Boys' Latin at Northwest Ice Rink, freshman Courtney Laughlin scored her first goal. Laughlin, the daughter of former Washington Capital Craig Laughlin, is the first girl to score a goal at Severn.
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