FRANKLIN, Mass. – Malden Catholic hockey is accustomed to taking the best shot from their opponents, and Franklin brought it through the first period of Friday night’s tilt at Pirelli Veterans Rink.
The Panthers, who are making the jump to the Division 1 ranks this season, but played against the Lancers as an exclusionary game, came out with jump and the team defense in front of senior goaltender Devon Maloof held.
Yet, after scoring his first of three goals with seconds remaining in the first, Lancers sophomore center Matt Filipe got his team untracked, setting off a five-goal barrage in the second period of a 7-2 win over the No. 23 Panthers.
Through two games, No. 2 MC has now scored 15 goals.
Here’s more from tonight non-league game:
On point: Filipe already has six points through two games on the heels of his hat trick Friday. Perhaps none of his goals was more impressive than his power-play tally at 11:13 of the second.
Filipe gave the Lancers (2-0-0) a 5-1 lead after winning an attack zone faceoff through his opponents’ legs and then worked his way toward the crease, finishing on the backhand after sweeping across the paint.
Along with a two-goal game from senior Brian Cameron, Filipe provided the spark after a lack-luster start for the three-time defending Super 8 champions.
“He’s a man playing with boys now, which is scary,” Lancers head coach John McLean said of Filipe.
McLean credited his hot start as the result of an increased offseason commitment.
“Last year, he was a freshman, and you could see it. But all of a sudden this year … He lifts four days a week, he eats right, he trains right, goes to bed and it’s showing,” McLean said.
Filipe wasn’t the only of MC’s young guns to make an impression against Franklin. Freshman goaltender Kyle Casey stopped 22 shots to notch his first varsity win.
“The forwards weren’t mentally ready to go at the start,” McLean said, “but I thought the defensemen were good and Kyle Casey, freshman goaltender, made some key saves to keep them off the scoreboard.”
Blue-line depth: Both teams had to see good things from their defenseman.
For MC, Nick Rolli and John McLean are entrenched veterans. But the Lancers’ top four has rounded out nicely with Chris Hopkins and Will Lawrence making contributions Friday. Lancers freshman blue-liner Matthew Yianacopolus is one to watch for the future as well.
However, the Panthers matched MC’s “D” stride for stride in the first, with a commitment to playing within their system.
“With a team like that, it’s not the guy with the puck that’s going to beat you, it’s the second or the third guy,” Franklin head coach Chris Spillane said. “We talked about that, we practiced that. We did that well in the first period. Everybody stayed home. We were playing the puck, playing aggressively and making them work for their space.”
Franklin (1-1-0) has veteran leadership on the back line from senior captain Kyle Powers. Juniors Kyle Filbert and Mason Saunders showed good instincts, particularly in the first period, when the Panthers effectively snuffed out MC’s up-tempo transition game through the neutral zone.
However, that changed in the fateful second.
“I think the bigger, stronger, better conditioned kids showed themselves in the second period,” Spillane said. “We had a couple of goals where we couldn’t finish and every puck battle, they won.”