BOSTON – Malden Catholic freshman Ara Nazarian has settled in nicely between Tyler Sifferlen and Brian Cameron on the No. 1 Lancers’ second line.
The center made his presence felt in a big way, midway through Saturday night’s Catholic Conference clash with No. 9 Catholic Memorial at Walter Brown Arena.
With game tied, 1-1, and five minutes remaining in the second period, Nazarian set up the go-ahead goal and then scored what would prove to be the game-winning goal all on one shift in the Lancers’ 5-2 win.
“I think it was a big momentum shift for us,” Nazarian said of the two goals, scored within 45 seconds. “They came out fast, they got the goal at the beginning of the period. That was a big shift for us.”
The only thing that could beat CM goaltender Shane Starrett in the first period was Brendan Collier’s tally at 6:13, coming on a tape-to-tape pass from Mike Iovanna with the Lancer captain streaking toward net. Starrett (33 saves) turned aside 14 shots in the first period alone.
The Knights (5-6-0, 1-3-0) carried play in the first 10 minutes of the second, out-shooting MC, 8-3.
CM found the equalizer just 24 seconds into the second with Knights captain Liam Coughlin was the beneficiary of some slick transition play from linemates Jack O’Hear and Aaron Marcel. Gaining the line with speed, O’Hear found Coughlin alone in front to bury a one-timer up high.
Then, Nazarian and his linemates took over.
First, Nazarian won a faceoff in the offensive end, beating the Knights’ centerman to the puck and then dishing it to Sifferlen camped on the off-wing post for a 2-1 lead.
“I tell my linemates that if I win it forward for them to go to the net,” Nazarian said. “And then I look for them on the backdoor.”
MC (8-1-2, 5-0-1) gained entry into the zone off the ensuing faceoff and, while cycling the puck down low, Nazarian banked in a shot from below the goal line for a 3-1 Lancer lead.
“I was trying to make a pass out front, but it went off the goalie’s pad and in,” Nazarian said.
The Lancers rode the momentum into the third period. Ryan Fitzgerald added a short-handed goal on a breakaway.
Although CM got one back on Miles McCarthy’s strike with 1:59 to play, the Lancers had the last laugh with Iovanna picking up his second point of the night with a breakaway goal with 11 seconds remaining.
PUTTING IT IN PERSPECTIVE
The Knights once again are facing a crucible in qualifying for the postseason tournament.
Hovering around .500 for the last several weeks, the Knights find themselves in dire need of points in the coming weeks against a grueling schedule. CM has the balance of their Catholic Conference schedule coming with four games, including another matchup against MC, in the next two weeks.
What’s been most troubling, however, for Knight head coach Bill Hanson has been the team’s inability to finish in key situations.
“When you get chances, you have to bury them, and we haven’t,” Hanson said.
Unsatisfied with Saturday’s performance, Hanson added, “I’m so disappointed … I refuse to go down like that again. That was embarrassing.”