WOONSOCKET, R.I. -- A late goal in the third period from junior forward Chris Stathopoulous helped No. 8 Catholic Memorial come away from Adelard Arena with a 3-3 tie with Rhode Island powerhouse Mount Saint Charles Wednesday afternoon.
With the tie, CM (7-7-2) now needs four points from its final four games to qualify for the Massachusetts Super Eight state tournament.
“I said to my kids that we had to come out and try to steal a point down here,” CM head coach Bill Hanson said. “We played awfully well that second period. That was huge for us tonight.”
On the tying goal, it was a poke check that started the play in motion. Before the puck could clear the zone, junior defenseman Jared Beckwith stretched with his stick at the blue line in front of the Mount bench to keep it in the offensive end. He dumped the puck into the zone to Kevin McCarthy, who found Liam Coughlin behind the net. Coughlin fed a perfect pass to Stathopoulous, who beat Mount goalie Dan Foster to the blocker side with 4:26 left on the clock.
“In this rink here, we didn’t play well along the wall,” Hanson said. “It was [get the] puck along the wall, chip, set up battles and get bounces. We got a bounce there.”
“Their good forecheck created a turnover and we left a man open,” said Mount co-coach Dave Belisle. “It was a bang-bang play and our goalie had no chance. When you turn the puck over in your own end on the break out, with guys skating one way away from the net, it was a quick turnover, they made a nice pass out front and [Stathopoulous] didn’t even hesitate, he just buried it.”
Mount (19-1-1) got on the board just 51 seconds into the game when senior Alexander Erban took a pass from Shamus Maloney and easily beat CM keeper Shane Starrett to the far side for a 1-0 lead.
CM tied the game at the 2:02 mark when Coughlin beat Foster off a nice feed from McCarthy. But the Mounties were able to take the lead right back just 34 seconds later when Michael Magerman fired a shot on net that Starrett stopped with his pad, but the rebound went right to the stick of Zachary Samborsky, who buried the shot into the back of the net for a 2-1 advantage.
In the second period, play was slow for both teams, although Catholic Memorial did carry the offensive play for the early portion. But the Mount was able to extend its lead at the 11:11 mark when Magerman won the faceoff draw to Trevor Plante, who slipped a pass to Samborsky in the slot. Samborsky buried his shot between Starrett’s legs for a 3-1 advantage.
The Knights didn’t waste any time getting that goal back, as Stathopoulous took a feed from Coughlin and beat Foster to the near side at the 11:18 mark, making it a one-goal game heading into the final period.
Mount carried the play for the better part of the third period, coming up with a number of quality scoring chances, even hitting the post on a shot from Callan Morisseau midway through the period. But Starrett turned away each opportunity, and CM rewarded that with the tying goal at the 10:34 mark.
This was the final nonleague contest for Mount Saint Charles, who finished 5-0-1 against some of the top teams from around New England and the East Coast. Belisle and his staff, which includes his father, legendary head coach Bill Belisle, hopes his team is able to use the experience of the game with CM to prepare it for another run at a state title.
“It’s a great non-league schedule and to accomplish what we did, I am very, very pleased with the effort of the boys,” Dave Belisle said. “It was a great year for the non-league, now we’ve got to finish the regular season and think about the playoffs. But this game is something that will get us working toward the playoffs.”
With the tie, CM now must get four points in its final four games to secure a coveted spot in the Super Eight. The Knights are back in action at Walter Brown Arena against another R.I. Catholic power, Bishop Hendricken, on Saturday night before travelling to Connecticut to face that state’s top team, Fairfield Prep, on Wednesday.
“We’re in desperation mode,” Hanson said. “We need to win these games and get points. We’ll be at our best, hopefully. To get a point from [Mount], they are just as good as any of those teams [left on CM’s schedule], if not better.”
CHANGE IN NET
Coming in, many people had been looking forward to the matchup of the two goalies from the respective teams. But CM started sophomore Shane Starrett over senior Tommy Knox, based on recent play. Starrett was in net for the team’s only point in the last two weeks, a 1-1 tie with No. 1 Malden Catholic. So Hanson started the sophomore, who is from Bellingham, just down the street from Mount’s home rink.
“[Starrett] has played very, very well for us,” Hanson said. “[Starrett] is a heck of a goaltender, and he’s only a sophomore. He stole a point for us against Malden Catholic and had a great game against St. John’s Prep earlier last week. He can play.”
After the game, Hanson said Starrett would be in net Saturday night against Bishop Hendricken.
The Starrett name should be familiar to fans of the Knights and of hockey in the region. His older brother, Peter, is playing at Harvard and had a couple of assists in a win over Boston University in the Beanpot consolation game Monday night; Troy is a freshman at Babson; and younger brother Beau is a freshman forward for CM.
MOUNT LIKELY TOP SEED IN R.I.
While it isn’t official, the Mounties should be the top seed in the Division I playoffs when they start March 4. Mount is the defending champions and is seeking the 42nd state title banner in school history. This year, with eight teams making the playoffs in the top division, MSC will have to play in the quarterfinals against the No. 8 seed. In the past, the top seed was given a bye into the semifinals.
The state championship, a best-of-three series, is scheduled for Schneider Arena at Providence College on March 16, 18 and 19.
Mount Saint Charles 3, Catholic Memorial 3
First period: MSC Erban  (Maloney) :51, CM Coughlin  (McCarthy, Beckwith) 2:02, MSC Samborsky  (Magerman) 2:36. Penalties: MSC (Magerman, unsportsmanlike conduct, 2:00).
Second period: MSC Samborsky  (Plante, Magerman) 11:11, CM Stathopoulous  (Coughlin), 11:18. No penalties.
Third period: CM Stathopoulous  (Coughlin, McCarthy) 10:34. No penalties.
Power play: CM 0-1, MSC 0-0.
Goaltenders (saves/shots): MSC Foster 27/30, CM Starret (26/29).