Marblehead is close behind; the Headers (who will play 22 regular season contests) have four games in the books and three more on tap before the calendar turns: again, a pair in the Cape Ann Tournament and a non-leaguer of their own against East Longmeadow Monday at Salem State (5:30 p.m.).
Danvers, Peabody, Swampscott and Masconomet are next; six games will be in the books for the Falcons, Tanners, Big Blue and Chieftains, respectively, by the time the ball drops in Times Square.
Bishop Fenwick will only play a total of five games before 2013 ends, but the last three of those come on back-to-back-to-back days: today vs. Peabody, tomorrow vs. Saugus or Wakefield, and tomorrow against visiting North Reading (6 p.m.) in Peabody.
The Crusders also have three games scheduled in the first four days of 2014, skating at Arlington Catholic on New Year’s Day, in Stoneham against Matignon Friday (1 p.m.) and hosting St. Mary’s of Lynn Saturday (6 p.m.).
All told, Fenwick will play six games in the next nine days — a schedule that would leave even the fittest of NHL clubs looking for a breather on the bench whenever possible.
The Blue Line Report, a column on North Shore boys hockey, appears every Wednesday in The Salem News during the winter sports season. Contact sports editor Phil Stacey at email@example.com or 978-338-2650, and follow him on Twitter @PhilStacey_SN.