SAUGUS, Mass. – No. 1 Malden Catholic hockey flexed its muscles throughout the Kasabuski Christmas Tournament. After throttling St. Bernard’s, 18-0, on Tuesday, the Lancers capped off the tournament championship with a convincing 8-0 win over No. 6 St. Mary’s of Lynn Wednesday night.
Malden Catholic (5-0-0) had six players finish with multi-point games, including tournament MVP Brendan Collier (2 G, 2A) and Ryan Fitzgerald (2G, 2A), who led with four points apiece. Mike Vecchione and Mike Iovanna each had three-point games while Colin MacGillivray and Nick Roberto (2 G) each had two points.
St. Mary’s (2-1-2) endured a tough first period, when the Lancers scored five times. Malden Catholic struck for three goals within 32 seconds of each other midway through the first.
“In the first period, I thought we really only played seven or eight really good minutes,” Lancers head coach Chris Serino said. “Fortunately, we put four, five goals in during that time.”
While Malden Catholic’s is indeed potent offensively, Serino also reminded that you cannot overlook the efforts of his defensemen. The Lancer blue-liners, led by the top pair of Connor Evangelista and MacGillivray, were instrumental in limiting the Spartans to nine shots on goaltender Pat Young.
“I thought we did a pretty good job in our own end, getting the puck out,” Serino added.
“People look at our forwards and our top line, but we’ve got pretty good defensemen, too. I think especially our top four are as good as anybody.”
On a night when many things didn’t go well for the Spartans, bench boss Mark Lee was encouraged by the way his team competed in the third period, holding the Lancers off the board.
“Every mistake you make, they’re there to capitalize on it,” Lee said. “Each one of their goals was a breakdown by us. They’re one of the most talented teams I’ve seen in years.
“But I’m very proud of our third period, we came out and played like men. We skated up and down with them and we had some chances. I’m happy with how we finished the game, taking the score away.”
SAUGUS TAKES D-2
It was a banner day all-around for Serino as his alma mater captured the Division 2 championship earlier in the day.
Saugus blanked Lynnfield, 3-0, on the strength of a pair of two-point performances from Kurt Roderigues and Drew Oxley.
“We’ve had some games this year that we’ve learned from,” Sachems head coach Jeff Natalucci said. “We were up 3-0 against Winthrop and we let them back in because we stopped working, but tonight we didn’t stop working. Hopefully, we continue to grow and go from here.”
After Ralph Pagliucca put the Sachems (2-0-3) ahead 1-0 in the seond period, Roderigues added some cushion, beating talented Lynnfield netminder Craig Cataldo on a snipe from the circle. Roderigues was set in motion on the play by a laser cross-ice pass through the neutral zone form Oxley.
Roderigues later returned the favor, setting up Oxley’s goal three minutes into the third period.
Saugus showed some grit in the tournament, working back from a two-goal deficit against Pentucket on Tuesday to earn a 5-2 win and advance to Wednesday’s final. The Sachems also played with plenty of jam with an aggressive forecheck. And it would be hard to recall loose puck in the corner that wasn’t first fished out by a Saugus skater.
Even Roderigues’ goal was started by some dirty work done in the corner. Freshman Steven Kay snaked the puck out of the Sachems’ end, pushing the puck to Oxley who let Roderigues off to the races.
All encouraging signs for their first-year head coach.
CATHOLIC CENTRAL LOGJAM
Earlier in the day, No. 5 Austin Prep collected a 4-0 win over Catholic Central foe St. Bernard’s in the Division 1 consolation game.
However, the Kasabuski tournament just reinforced the fact that the Catholic Central is shaping up to be a very even three-horse race this season.
On Tuesday night, the Cougars skated to a 1-1 tie with St. Mary’s (the game is counted as a tie in MIAA standings), but the Spartans had the last laugh, scoring with 50 seconds remaining in the overtime period to set up their matchup with Malden Catholic. The tightly-battled game has been indicative of the early season meetings between the Catholic Central powers. Before Christmas, No. 4 Arlington Catholic skated to a 4-4 tie with St. Mary’s. So no definitive favorite has emerged in one of the state’s most tightly contested conferences.
“It’s nice to take three points away from the tournament, but we were still a little sloppy,” Austin Prep head coach Louis Finocchiaro said. “There are still things we have to work on. We can be a little careless with the puck at times. But we’re a young team and you expect those things to happen.”