BOSTON -- It’s never an easy task to roll into Walter Brown Arena and take a game from perennial power Catholic Memorial, but that’s exactly what Weymouth accomplished.
The Wildcats shrugged off a sluggish start to dominate play in the second and third periods in their 2-0 win over the Knights on Monday afternoon.
Brian Brady made 36 stops and played a crucial 15 minutes of hockey in the opening frame - stopping all 14 shots he faced - while the rest of the team was trying to adjust to the early start or the anxiousness of playing against one of the top teams in the Catholic Conference.
Matt Cataldo could sense that his team came out a little tentative in the opening period, but saw his crew get a renewed confidence when they took the Knights’ best shot and didn’t falter.
“I think that’s the biggest thing when you come in and start playing the Catholic schools,” explained Cataldo. “The public kids maybe have that perception that they can’t compete or that they are not as good as a team. These guys are getting more and more confident.”
The Wildcats were lucky that Brady came out oozing with confidence, because for most of the third period the Knights were able to control play and control the speedy forwards of the Wildcats.
“(Brady) generally gets better the more shots that he sees,” said Cataldo, whose team is now 17-2-2 on the season. “For him to come out and be rock solid from the get-go definitely saved us in that first period.”
The Knights were able to camp in front of Brady for most of the period, but his best work came with under a minute left to go as he stoned Liam Coughlin -- arguably one of the most gifted scores for CM -- on a breakaway.
“Every shot I gained confidence and felt good going into it,” Brady said.
Tyler Piacentini and Riley Flanagan were held in check for most of the first period, but looked as if they finally figured out the Knights’ back-line when the latter broke loose on a pass from Piacentini, but an offside call wiped out the play.
From that moment forward, the two would mount several 2-on-1 rushes. Flanagan had a goal called off after batting a Piacentini pass out of the air, but would finally get one to go on a give-and-go with his linemate at 9:24 of the second period.
Piacentini would notch his own goal with three minutes to go as he got behind the defense at center ice and decided to keep it himself to beat Shane Starrett (20 saves) short-side for the 2-0 lead.
“I saw that I was wide open out wide,” Piacenitni said. “That’s what I was trying to do all game, just get wide and kick their [defense] out of the way. It was a nice pass by Steve [Bristol]. I think it just squeezed in top right.”
The Knights couldn’t mount the sustained rushes that they built in the first period even though they outshot the Wildcats 36-22.. CM struggled to an 0-for-6 day on the power play, and with 41 goals in 18 games played, the Knights have to feel a little snake bit when it comes to putting the puck in the net.
“We’ve got to grind it and get to the crease to get that lucky goal, that ‘puck luck’ goal,” Knights head coach Bill Hanson said. “We don’t get them. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
This should be the signature late season win that calms the nerves of Cataldo when it comes to thinking about the Super Eight. But the Knights still have a little bit of work to do. Hanson’s team, who seem to be a fixture in the elite tournament every year, need to capture two points in the final two games to clinch a spot.
HONORING A FORMER KNIGHT
The game was played in honor of Mark Bavis, a former Knight player from 1984-88 who was tragically killed during the Sept. 11 tragedy at the World Trade Center. Bavis was a two-time Catholic Conference All-Star and was a member of three championship teams.
Bavis went on to play for Boston University from 1988-1992, but always remained loyal to the Knights’ hockey program, according to his former head coach.
“He was like a son,” Hanson said.