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No respect for Cumberland boys' hockey team

Every fall, Eric Rueb, a former sports editor in South County, organizes a high school football pool that takes the weekly votes of a handful of sports journalists from across the state and calculates them into a Top 20 poll. Those sports journalists who vote are the ones you’ll see in the trenches at a Rhode Island game every Friday night, and those are the ones who are familiar with the state’s three leagues and the 42 teams that play in them. Because of their valuable input, the Top 20 poll that comes out that Monday morning is usually very spot on when it comes to ranking the teams.

In the winter, Hockey Night in Boston puts together a weekly Top 10 list of the state’s top high school hockey teams, but the folks who put that together aren’t from Rhode Island and know little about the goings-on in this state. Judging by the recent poll above, you can tell.

Sure, the top three are pretty much the three that belong there, and maybe Smithfield, which is 3-3 in Division I and has been idle for the past two weeks, belongs at No. 5. But where are the rest of the D-I teams? Why is Moses Brown, which is 5-3, down at No. 9? And where’s Cumberland? For the second week in a row, they’ve been off this poll. Sure, the Clippers are 2-5-2 (including an overtime loss), but minus a couple of three-goal losses, they’ve been in every single game they’ve played this year. And in their nine games, they’ve allowed just 21 goals! That’s not easy for any team to do, even the parochial powers atop the division!

When it comes to D-I and D-II hockey, there’s a quantum leap in talent between the two divisions. Yet Barrington, which leads the D-II ranks with an 11-0-1, sits high at No. 4, and No. 6 Coventry (8-1-1) and the No. 8 Rogers/Middletown/Rocky Hill co-op team (8-3) are ranked higher than Moses Brown. Even North Kingstown, which is barely above .500 (5-4-2), is at No. 7! Put any of those teams in D-I and let’s see if they can stay out of the basement!

And just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse … for the second week in a row, the Woonsocket/Scituate co-op team, which is a D-III team, is ranked 10th! As big as a gap there is between D-I and D-II, there may be a bigger one between D-II and D-III. In a state that has 27 boys’ teams, six of them in D-III, there’s no way that any D-III team, no matter how great a season they are having, should be in the Top 15, never mind Top 10! And entering this weekend, the SpartaNovans are 6-3-2 and leading Pilgrim by a point in the standings, so they’re not exactly blowing the doors off their competition.

Because D-I is, well, the best of the best, I think that all nine teams in that division should be on this list, even Prout, which is 1-6-1. Put any of them in D-II and they’ll run away with that championship or at least get to the finals. As for the other spot? Barrington’s undefeated, so the Eagles belong no higher than No. 8. Rather put Rogers/Middletown/Rocky Hill or Coventry instead of Prout at No. 9 or 10? Okay, go for it.

Of course, a poll is what it is, a poll. It’s merely an opinion. Still, you have to wonder what Cumberland and its fans have been thinking about this …


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