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High school hockey playoff pairings released Good luck picking the champion in the Central Mass. Division 3A ice hockey tournament. The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association unveiled the tournament pairings Saturday, and the local coaches agree that this year's playoffs are wide open and up for grabs. "It's been a great year overall," Nashoba Regional coach Steve Kendall said. "All the teams are capable of beating anybody. Worcester might be the favorite, but on any given night anyone can beat anyone. It's already been proven this season." Oakmont Regional coach Ryan Carney agrees that any one of the seven Division 3A playoffs teams could win the CMass. crown. "Quite frankly, in our division, I don't see any one team that is heads above the others," Carney said after Friday's scoreless tie against North Middlesex Regional at Fitchburg State University's Wallace Civic Center. "Any team can beat any team on any given night. It's a matter of which team shows up and wants it more on that night." Four local teams Nashoba, Oakmont/Narragansett, Lunenburg/Ayer Shirley and North Middlesex all qualified. North Middlesex (8 8 4) might be the seventh and final seed, but the Patriots are excited and confident heading into the postseason. "All that matters is we're in," North Middlesex goalie Ryan Twomey said after Friday's game. "The regular season is over. Anything can happen." The Patriots travel to Buffone Arena in Worcester to face No. in a quarterfinal matchup. North Middlesex lost to Grafton twice, 4 1 and 5 3 in Coughlin Conference matchups. "Grafton is a high powered offense," North Middlesex first year coach Mike McCarthy said. "We've had our issues with them, not only this year but last year. "But the last time we played them, we played them tight." It will also be quite a battle when No. 3 Nashoba (13 4 3) squares off with No. at the New England Sports Center. Coughlin Conference foes, the Chieftains and Blue Knights split during the regular season. Lunenburg won 2 1 on Jan. 5, and the Chieftains got payback with a 2 0 triumph on Jan. 21. "Those were two very physical games," Kendall said. Expect both hard hitting teams to continue to play that physical brand of hockey. "We know those guys aren't going to back down," Kendall said. "It's going to be a good game." It will be quite the interesting matchup with Lunenburg's feared top line of Tom Wagner also one punishing hitter Pat Brennan and Dan Baldino versus Nashoba's rock solid defense of Drew Foster, Mark Laskey, Chris Lamplough and Brad Colvin. The goaltenders Lunenburg's Alec McNamara and Nashoba's Devyn Levesque could also steal the show. Oh, and the storyline wouldn't be complete without the Short brothers Eric, the Lunenburg head coach, and Trevor, a Nashoba assistant competing for family bragging rights. "The kids like to give Trevor a hard time about playing his brother," Kendall said. "It might be motivation because the kids want to be successful for (Trevor)." The Grafton/North Middlesex winner will face the Nashoba/Lunenburg winner in a semifinal on March 6. Oakmont (11 5 4), the No. 5 seed, meets No. at NorthStar Youth Forum. The Spartans skated to a 5 3 win over Northbridge on Jan. 21 during the regular season. "We're happy to be in," Carney said. "We're in the tournament, now we have to come prepared and be ready. We'll see how it goes." Oakmont has to like that junior star goaltender Marcus Dion is currently playing his best hockey between the pipes. As hockey fans know, a red hot goalie can carry a team extremely far even to a championship. "He's playing well and has the hot hand right now," Carney said. "I'm hoping the team can follow suit now." Pound for pound, the Coughlin Conference was one of the best conferences this season considering it sent Grafton, Nashoba, Lunenburg, Oakmont and North Middlesex into the tournament. Gardner was the lone team that failed to qualify from the Coughlin. The championship game will be played at the Wallace Civic Center on March 11 at a time yet to be determined.