High-flying Lancers zap BC High
NORTH ANDOVER – Malden Catholic continued its run to Super 8 glory last night, knocking off Catholic Conference rival BC High, 4-2, in front of a sold-out crowd of 1,500 at Merrimack College.
The Eagles (15-6-3) nearly stormed ahead in the second frame, scoring once on the power play and outshooting MC, 11-6, but the Lancers (20-2-2) held on and will face St. John’s Prep (18-5-1) for the title Sunday at TD Garden at 6 p.m.
MC coach Chris Serino thought his players were too offensive-minded in the first two periods and it nearly cost them the game.
“We’ve been doing this the whole tournament,’’ he said. “We’re just looking to go for the offense, giving up too many scoring chances. Hopefully, we have one more stored up in us because we’re going to need it the way we’re playing.’’
MC’s explosive offense was on display in the opening minute, when a few early shots on Eagles sophomore Peter Cronin (24 saves) led to a loose rebound that sophomore Ryan Fitzgerald poked in for a 1-0 lead.
Killing a penalty midway through the second period, MC senior captain Mike Vecchione intercepted a pass in his zone to give the Lancers a two-on-one chance. But Cronin made the save to send the Eagles back the other way, and Fitzgerald was whistled for a tripping penalty that gave BC High a brief two-man advantage. Just seconds into the five-on-three, senior defenseman Jack Buckley ripped a slap shot from the point that sneaked between Patrick Young’s legs to tie things up, 1-1.
MC killed two straight power plays following the goal, eventually taking the lead back when junior Brendan Collier knocked in a far-side rebound off a Vecchione wrist shot.
If the Eagles were going to put pressure on the tournament favorites, the second period might have been their best chance. They had four power plays and peppered Young, but Collier’s goal with four minutes left in the period allowed the Lancers to increase their lead.
“In the second period, we played well,“ said first-year Eagles coach John Flaherty. “We outchanced them. But they capitalized as good teams do. And we didn’t capitalize on our chances.
“That team down the hall is a very, very good hockey team. We made them fight for their life tonight and I’m very proud of our guys for that.’’
The Lancers’ second line got in on the scoring in the third period when senior Garrett White beat Cronin top shelf for a 4-1 lead. BC High freshman Tom Besinger put one in with three minutes left, but that was it for the Eagles.
“They were taking the momentum away [in the second period], really coming at us,’’ Serino said. “I thought we played really well after we got the 3-1 lead. That lightened things up for us a little bit and took some of the pressure off. Hopefully the way we played in the third will carry over into the Garden.’’
Young made 20 saves.
“He played awfully good,’’ Serino said. “He’s played really well in the tournament, made crucial saves at times when we needed him. He might have won the game for us tonight.’’
Both the Lancers and the Eagles will be playing for the first Super 8 championship in school history and Serino knows his squad will be under the spotlight.
“There’s a lot of pressure on these guys,’’ he said. “They’ve been No. 1 since the beginning. Anything less than the state title is going to be a disappointment for everybody, that’s what they believe.’’