MALDEN, Mass. -- For the second time in as many tries, No. 6 Catholic Memorial held a late third-period lead, only to settle for a tie.
Thomas Stanton provided the Knights with a 2-1 lead with less than three minutes remaining in Wednesday night’s Catholic Conference matchup with No. 1 Malden Catholic. And, while CM netminder Shane Starrett consistently stood on his head, stopping 41 Lancer shots, MC junior winger Mike Iovanna’s deflection of a point shot resulted in a 2-2 tie.
Remaining undefeated in Catholic Conference play at 6-0-2, MC wrapped up another regular season league title.
On the other hand, for CM (6-6-2, 2-3-2), it remains a struggle for points.
“I’ve said that in the last couple of weeks we’ve needed to steal a point here and there,” Knights head coach Bill Hanson said. “And we stole a point.”
The Knights now need six points in their final five games to qualify for the state tournament.
Aside from paring a point from the state’s top team, CM might have gained more in its play.
“Tonight definitely helps our confidence,” said Stanton, a senior assistant captain. “They’re a good team. We can play with them, we proved that. I think we just need to prove it to ourselves that we can play with teams like that.”
MC (11-1-3) was off to another quick start with Ryan Fitzgerald tapping in a one-timer off of Brendan Collier’s cross-ice feed at 2:57 of the first.
Neither team was able to find the back of the net until CM caught a dose of puck luck with senior captain Liam Coughlin banking in a puck off an MC defender’s skate with under nine minutes remaining in the third.
Stanton provided what look to be the game-winner before Iovanna got a piece of Brendan White’s shot from the point with 1:43 to play.
“[Starrett] made some good saves and it was tough to get it by him,” said Collier, the Lancers’ senior captain. “They hung around, and you can’t let good teams hang around. They’re scrapping for their lives right now.”
ADJUSTING ON THE FLY
CM was successful clogging up passing lanes and sagging down low, defensively, with a boatload of blocked shots to show for it. While Starrett saw plenty of rubber tossed his way, the Knights rolled with the Lancers’ punches and turned in perhaps their best defensive effort of the season outside of their early win over St. Sebastian’s.
“I thought we adjusted very well in the third period,” Hanson said. “We said, hey, we’ve got a chance to win a hockey game here. We backed off on the forecheck, we weren’t that aggressive. We locked on their wings, locked on them in the offensive zone and the defensive zone, hoping that we’d get a turnover.”
MOMENT FOR PAUSE
Emerging unscathed from Wednesday’s game, MC earned an undefeated conference record for the second time in as many years.
It was a feat that wasn’t lost on Collier.
“It’s a great league, it’s probably the best in high school hockey,” he said. “To be undefeated, it’s just an honor. It just shows how good of a squad we have and how hard we work. Anybody can beat anybody on any given night."