MALDEN, Mass. – The defending Super 8 champion Malden Catholic Lancers picked up right where they left off with a 5-1 win over St. Mary’s of Lynn at Valley Forum on Monday night.
As we continue crisscrossing the state, continuing our hockey season preview work, here is a smattering of quick thoughts from the Lancers’ win:
Not much has changed without Serino: Last night marked the debut of John McLean behind No. 1 MC’s bench, having taken over for head coach Chris Serino, who’s sitting out the season due to health issues. McLean, a longtime assistant of Serino’s going back to his tenure at Merrimack College, is a capable bench boss who’s well familiar with the system. “We have the same passion for the game,” McLean said after his first career victory. “We enjoy seeing kids improve and succeed. That’s what coaching is all about. That’s what keeps us going.”
No Fitzy, no problem: With top-line center Ryan Fitzgerald on the shelf until around the New Year with a shoulder separation, McLean slotted freshman pivot Ara Nazarian between Brendan Collier (1 G, 2A) and Mike Iovanna (1 G, 1 A. The impressive 5-foot-10, 170-pound first-year skated made a lasting impression tallying two goals and an assist. Nazarian looks to be a player we’ll be hearing about for years to come, even if his top-line status isn’t going to last long. “It’s tough not having Fitzgerald,” McLean said. “But it can be good for other kids on the team. All our centers will get to move up and share a little bit more in the responsibilities. I don’t know if we’ll keep Ara up on the first line, but he’s going to be an impact player in this league for a time to come.”
Continuity on D: Despite returning many key components from last year’s title team, the Lancers are a little green on the blue line. Despite having a pair of sophomores in their second pairing and a pair of freshmen on the third pair, MC does have an experienced top pair in Colin MacGillivray and ESPN Boston preseason All-Stater Brendan White. “We’re real young back there, but they’ve done a good job taking care of the younger kids, showing them how to do things,” McLean said.
St. Mary’s replenished: Speaking of young talent, the Spartans should be in good hands for the years to come as well. Despite graduating four-year starting goaltender Donald Hesse from last year’s team, sophomore Bailey MacBurnie played a strong game in his first marquee start. He looked poised during a critical 5-on-3 penalty kill, turning aside three shots from in close on MC’s top line. The Spartans also got a spark from sophomore transfer Jarrod Fitzpatrick, who tallied St. Mary’s lone goal in the first. “He’s a nice addition as a sophomore transfer,” Spartans head coach Mark Lee said. “It seems like he’s been here for the full two years because he’s come in and fit right in from the day he got here. He’s got a lot of talent.” Along with junior Bobby Mullins and senior captain Tommy Braswell, the Spartans could find themselves atop the Catholic Central again this season.