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Sunday, March 17, 2013
Super 8 final: Malden Catholic 3, Austin Prep 2

By Roger Brown

BOSTON – The 2013 Super 8 tournament ended the same way it did in 2011 and 2012 – with Malden Catholic celebrating on the TD Garden Ice.

The Lancers stretched their winning streak to 11 games Sunday by beating Austin Prep 3-2 in the Super 8 championship game.

Junior left wing Tyler Sifferlen, sophomore right wing Austin Goldstein and sophomore center Ara Nazarian scored for Malden Catholic, which became the first team to win the Super 8 in three consecutive years since Catholic Memorial prevailed from 2003 to 2005. The Lancers, who were under .500 after 14 games, completed their season with a 16-6-3 record.

“We knew we had the talent, we just had to get the kids on the right page and to believe in themselves,” Malden Catholic coach John McLean said. “I thought we were going to lose four games, When we got to six I was concerned.”

Austin Prep's Nolan Vesey scored on the game's first shot on goal and the game's last shot on goal, but the Cougars didn't beat Malden Catholic goaltender Connor Maloney in between. The Lancers led 2-1 after one period and carried that lead into the third.

Maloney made 12 saves.

“End of the season we went on a little run,” Maloney said. “Nothing was definite, but we felt if we played our best hockey we'd be here.”

Nazarian gave Malden Catholic a 3-1 lead on a shot from the left faceoff circle that found its way between Austin Prep goaltender Elijah Harris' pads and trickled across the goal line 2:24 into the third. Vesey kept things interesting by scoring with 26.5 seconds left, but the Cougars failed to put another shot on goal. Vesey's second goal came after Austin Prep had pulled Harris (33 saves).

Austin Prep, which entered the contest unbeaten in its last 13 games (10-0-3), finished its season with a 16-2-6 record. It was the first time Austin Prep reached the Super 8 final.

“They're a good hockey team,” Austin Prep coach Louis Finocchiaro said. “They came on strong at the end of the season.

“We're not happy with losing. We came here intending to win a hockey game and believed we could. Our kids ... I can't be more proud of them. What I'm most proud of is we continued to compete until the final buzzer – like it's been all year. “

It was the second time the teams met this season. Malden Catholic won a shootout on Dec. 28 after the game was 4-4 at the end of overtime.

The Lancers led 2-1 after the opening period. Austin Prep grabbed the lead when Vesey scored from low in the left faceoff circle 14 seconds into the contest. It was the game's first shot on goal.

Malden Catholic got on the scoreboard when Sifferlen beat Harris with a wrist shot from the right dot at 5:25. The goal came during a delayed penalty.

The Lancers took their first lead when Goldstein scored on a soft shot from above the right circle with two minutes left in the first. The two goals Harris allowed in the opening 15 minutes matched the number of goals he surrendered in Austin Prep's three previous tournament games.

Malden Catholic lost five players from its 2012 championship team. The Lancers became the first team to win a play-in game, and then capture the Super 8 title.

“Really proud of the kids because there were a lot of doubters,” McLean said. “If everybody comes back, hopefully you'll see us here again next year.”