Sunday, March 16, 2014
Four-peat for Malden Catholic seniors
By Josh Perry
BOSTON -- Imagine going all four years of high school without knowing what it’s like to lose the last game of the season. From the start of your career straight through to the end, the only experience is one of ultimate success.
For four Malden Catholic seniors -- Brian Cameron, Nick Rolli, Tyler Sifferlen and Pat Wrenn -- Sunday’s 5-3 win over Austin Prep at the TD Garden was the culmination of one of the most impressive stretches in the prestigious tournament’s history.
“It feels great to win another Super 8 championship,” said forward Tyler Sifferlen. “Being a leader of this team, my last year here, it’s good to go out with a win.”
Sifferlen’s Malden Catholic career has come full circle. He scored the opening goal in the overtime classic that the Lancers played against St. John’s Prep in his freshman year and he added the opener in this year’s final as well -- the third time that the UMass-Lowell commit has scored in four years.
He reflected, “It feels good scoring in the Garden especially, you know, NHL rink and it’s just unbelievable.”
Sifferlen added, “I’m just working hard and wouldn’t have done it without everyone on this team.”
The overtime win over Prep began the run for the Lancers and was followed by a victory over BC High and then wins over Austin Prep in each of the past two seasons.
Lancers head coach John McLean would not allow it to be called a dynasty.
He explained, “No … it’s a win and I don’t know what the records are we just try to win every game and get two points. It’s awesome, don’t get me wrong, but we just need to get ready for next season. We’ll enjoy it tonight and take some time off and see what we have for next year.”
It is only the second time that a team has won four Super 8 titles in a row (the other being Catholic Memorial from 1998-2001). Senior defenseman Nick Rolli credits the coaching staff for making the title a priority, and an expectation, every season and not allowing the team to feel satisfied with winning the title.
“Every year, the first practice of the year, the coaches stress how important we have to work to be able to get to this point and not just to get to this point but to win,” Rolli explained. “That’s our goal every year from the first day of training camp. To have it happen four years in a row is pretty special.”
Like his classmate, Rolli also got on the score sheet on Sunday afternoon. He assisted on the opening goal by Sifferlen and then got one of his own with a blast from the point in the second period.
“It meant the world to me…My last high school game and getting the chance to score and help my teammates win the game,” he said. “That’s what meant the most -- to help my team win.”
Taking the ice at the TD Garden and sharing the same sheet as the Bruins is a daunting experience for a high school player. As Rolli noted, “It’s a dream come true.” But, for the Lancers, playing at the Garden has become an expected occurrence and that experience allows them to overcome the nerves that come with playing in a final.
Rolli remarked, “I think being here a couple of times really helps and everybody just seemed to click together. We played here the first game of the Super 8 and that helped get the jitters out; it’s just another ice surface with more people.”
McLean admits the team will miss its two senior captains next year, but he noted that this is an opportunity for one of the younger players to step in and fill the void -- as Sifferlen and Rolli both had to during their careers.
“I’ve known these guys for a long time and it’s going to be tough to see them go,” McLean said. “They’re the leaders off ice, in the locker room, and on the ice and it’s going to be tough to replace those type of players. And the next guy is going to have to step up if we want to keep doing this.”
Reflecting on four title-filled years, Sifferlen had no problem picking out his favorite moment. He immediately highlighted the championship that the Lancers won for longtime head coach Chris Serino, who stepped away from the program in 2011-12 before passing away last fall from throat cancer.
“That was a big one and all these years have definitely been for him,” said Sifferlen.
Looking back on his four years at Malden Catholic, Rolli was having a hard time putting into perspective just how he felt about the accomplishments that have come his way.
He said, “My father took me here ever y year to the Super 8…and I’ve always dreamed of playing here and playing for Malden Catholic.”
“[The] best moment…[is] right now. Being a champion…I’m letting that sink in right now…great moment.”