While the Eagles are seeded No. 3, and won't have to play until Wednesday against Burlington at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell (7:30), the Spartans are in action right away. They'll lace up the skates tonight at the Chelmsford Forum (8) against St. John's of Shrewsbury.
The No. 9 Spartans were 12-6-4 this season, including a pair of losses last week in the Cardinal Classic in West Springfield.
However, said coach Mark Lee, "the teams we lost two were Malden Catholic and Pope Francis (formerly Springfield Cathedral). We competed in both games, and I'm sure the committee took that into consideration.
"It's an honor to have been selected," Lee said.
The winner of the play-in game will continue in the Super 8 while the loser drops down to Division 1 North.
Should the Spartans win tonight, they will be back in action Wednesday against top-seeded Central Catholic at the Tsongas Arena (7:30).
The Lynn Jets are seeded third in Division 3 North. Under first-year coach Mike Roberts, the Jets went 11-5-4, with an uncertain goaltending situation entering the season. A qartet of forwards -- Mike and Brian Clougherty, John DiFilippo and Sean Devin -- led the Jets during the season. Their opponent in Thursday's first-round game in Stoneham (6 p.m.) will be a familiar one -- Boston Latin Academy. The Jets split with the academy during the season, winning 7-3 at their Christmas tournament in December and then losing a 6-4 decision at Matthews Arena in Boston earlier this month.
Also in Division 3, Swampscott (9-5-6 and seeded eighth) will play Revere/Malden (8-7-4 and No. 9) in a first-round game Wednesday (6) in Stoneham.
The Big Blue were sparked by Stevie Santanello, who went over the career 100-point mark this winter. They are also backstopped by Dan Johnson, one of the area's top goaltenders, Dom Codispoti and Brett Benoit.
The Patriots are led by Mike Goroshko, a forward; and defensemen Cam Mazza and Matt Cravotta. There are 12 teams in Division 3 competing for a state championship. Division 2 will have 17 teams vying for the state title, four of them from the Northeastern Conference and the other in Lynnfield.
Danvers (15-4-1) drew the top seed. The Falcons went undefeated in the Northeastern Conference this season, losing non-league games to Merrimack Valley Conference teams Chelmsford and Tewksbury as well as to North Reading and North Andover. The Hornets, should they defeat Essex Tech in tonight's preliminary-round game, will be next up for the Falcons -- on Wednesday (6) in Stoneham.
No. 3 Lynnfield (12-5-3) had its best season ever under head coach Jon Gardner. The Pioneers will play Tuesday (5) against Wilmington at Ryan Rink in Watertown. Should they win, they will take on the winner of the Winthrop-Beverly game Friday, at a time to be announced, in Woburn.
The Pioneers did not play Wilmington or Beverly during the regular season, but lost 2-1, to Winthrop in the Kasabuski Classic over the Christmas break.
The Vikings (12-6-2) are seeded sixth while Beverly (10-6-4) is 11th. Their game is also Tuesday (6) at the O'Brien Rink in Woburn.
Joining Danvers on the left side of the bracket is Gloucester (10-6-4), which drew the ninth seed. The Fishermen will play No. 8 North Andover Tuesday (8) at Stoneham.