MC books a return engagement at Garden
NORTH ANDOVER – Top-ranked Malden Catholic punched its return ticket to TD Garden and will get the chance to defend its Super 8 crown after defeating Central Catholic, 4-0, Wednesday night at Lawler Arena.
“It’s been a longer road . . . but I think we’re coming together at the right time,” said MC captain Brendan Collier.
The Lancers will face Catholic Conference rival BC High in the Super 8 final Sunday at 6 p.m.
“I had BC High marked down from the beginning of the season,” said MC coach John McLean. “They have some good kids and they’re very well coached.”
The Lancers came out flying in the first period and dominated on all fronts, but were held scoreless thanks to the efforts of Raiders goalie Kyle Williams who stopped all eight shots he faced.
Central was unable to get anything going offensively and it took over 14 minutes for them to muster a shot on goal. The MC defense matched the Raiders’ physicality with Colin MacGillivray setting the tone with some bruising hits.
The Lancers looked as if they had broken the scoreless tie when Brendan Collier batted one past Williams, but the whistle had previously blown and the goal was disallowed.
Defenseman Nick Rolli put MC (19-1-4) on the board three minutes later after drilling a slap shot from the top of the right circle that initially pinged iron, but bounced straight out and off the back of Williams’s leg, deflecting back into the net for a 1-0 lead.
Collier added to the lead when he collected the rebound of a Ryan Fitzgerald shot and took it to the right side of the net where he backhanded it home for a 2-0 lead at 10:05 of the second.
The Raiders (15-5-5) did pick up their pace after being outshot, 19-3, midway through the second. They put 10 shots on Connor Maloney in the last seven minutes of the period and even had a penalty shot opportunity after Rolli dragged down a breaking Corey Webber.
With a chance to cut the lead to one, Webber started up the middle and released a close-range shot that Maloney stopped with a right pad save to keep the score 2-0 after two.
“He came up huge tonight,” said McLean of Maloney’s 14 save shutout performance.
Ara Nazarian put the Lancers up, 3-0, his fifth goal in the Super 8, after putting home a rebound off of a Pat Wrenn shot and when Ryan Fitzgerald potted his fifth goal of the postseason, with 2:06 remaining, the Lancers faithful were planning their Garden party for Sunday.