Boston High School: Bill Hanson

Super 8: No. 2 Malden Catholic 6, No. 7 CM 4

March, 6, 2014
Mar 6
1:13
AM ET


LOWELL, Mass. -- There are times when changing goaltenders can be the difference between victory and defeat.

That seemed to be the case when Malden Catholic and Catholic Memorial met Wednesday night.

Trailing by two goals early in the second period, MC coach John McLean pulled freshman goaltender Kyle Casey and inserted junior Alex Reissis. The Lancers turned their two-goal deficit into a one-goal lead by the end of the period, and went on to defeat CM 6-4 at the Tsongas Center.

The win gave second-seeded MC a two-game sweep in the Super 8 best-of-three quarterfinal-round series.

“We have two very good goalies,” McLean said. “You have to get by five guys to get a shot on net, so I don’t blame the goalies on any shot. Reissis came in and did what he had to do. I thought he did a great job.

“If need be I have the confidence to put Casey in any game in any situation.”

Junior forward Zach Sullivan scored twice for seventh-seeded Catholic Memorial (10-9-4). Both goals came during Catholic Memorial power plays. The Knights also received goals from sophomore defenseman Tim Weinstein and junior forward Anthony Panaggio.

Senior left wing Tyler Sifferlen and senior right wing Brian Cameron each scored twice for MC (18-4-0). Sifferlen’s second goal came with 1.8 seconds remaining in the second period while the teams were skating four-on-four. The goal handed MC a 5-4 lead.

Junior defenseman John McLean and sophomore center Matt Filipe also scored for MC, which has won the last three Super 8 tournaments. Filipe’s goal came while MC was short-handed and made it a 4-4 contest.

MC outshot CM, 40-16.

“I’m proud of the kids, McLean said. “They worked hard tonight. We accomplished what we wanted to accomplish.”

Up next: MC will play either third-seeded Springfield Cathedral (16-2-5) or sixth-seeded Duxbury (16-3-3) in the tournament’s semifinals, which will be held March 12. Cathedral and Duxbury will play the second game of their best-of-three series Thursday night (6 p.m.) at Tsongas Arena.

Cathedral won the opener, 4-1.

Cathedral beat MC, 5-2, during the regular season. Duxbury and MC have not met this season.

“We haven’t seen Duxbury yet, but if we play Cathedral we know what we’re getting since we played them out in Springfield,” Filipe said. “All the boys are amped up.”

Net assets: Reissis, an Arlington resident, entered the tournament with a 2.09 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage in 11 games. He made 21 saves when MC beat CM in the series opener.

Casey, who lives in Boxford, entered Wednesday’s contest began with a 2.22 goals-against average and an .880 save percentage in nine games.

“We didn’t give Kyle much support, so you can’t put the blame on him,” Filipe said. “We just tightened up in the D zone when (Reissis) got in there.”

Super 8 play-in: CM 2, Braintree 1

February, 25, 2014
Feb 25
2:17
AM ET


STONEHAM, Mass. – It was so familiar yet so different.

Last year, it was Malden Catholic back-stepping into the Division 1A tournament as a 10-seed and using its play-in win to jump start a third straight title run.

Last night, it was a previously free-falling Catholic Memorial squad that plugged the holes, righted the ship, and came back to defeat Braintree 2-1 at an overflow Stoneham Arena to advance to a first-round series against the aforementioned Lancers.

Knights captain Aaron Clancy played up to the moment, scoring a pair of goals less than three minutes apart in the third period to power CM into the Super 8.

“It was a quality win over a quality opponent,” Catholic Memorial coach Bill Hanson said. “We finally played the system we should be playing, and we got great goaltending.”

The Knights fell flat on their facemasks in the first period, but Brandon Collett carried them through it. The sophomore goaltender, celebrating his 16th birthday Monday, let a Wamp goal past him but locked down and stopped six shots in the period. Collett stopped 14 Braintree shots in total.

“Kid stood on his head,” Clancy said of Collett. “Without him we wouldn't be here. He's peaking at the right time, and that's all you need in playoff hockey.”

The Wamps came out guns blazing in the first period. Kevin Howard put Braintree up late in the period when his shot from the point deflected off a body and went in. Braintree used the body early and often to dictate tempo and looked as if it would turn the game into a replay of Friday's 3-0 win over the Knights.

However, CM streamlined its strategy in the final two periods and were able to turn the tide, in all facets of the game, on the Wamps. Braintree outshot CM 7-1 in the first but was outshot 18-8 during the final two periods.

“I thought in the first period we had a jump in our step, I thought we were playing well,” Braintree coach David Fasano said. “For some reason, the second period we did too much standing around; we were on our heels a little bit. Against a good team like CM you've got to go at them, force them to make mistakes.”

As the game progressed CM chipped pucks deep and forced Braintree to play a 200-foot possession, and the Knights were able to slop up the middle of the ice enough to break up the Wamps' passes. Braintree's physical, crisp game of the first period was unable to thrive once CM adjusted.

“They were great in the neutral zone and we adjusted by coming back a little deeper, getting the red line, and playing dirty, ugly hockey,” Hanson said.

“We stepped up our physical presence. We actually simplified what we did the second and third period. All's we wanted to was get the red line, try to take center ice away, and then get it in and make us play with their backs to us.”

CONTROVERSY: The game's most memorable moment was a disallowed Braintree goal in the first period that will be dissected for the rest of the tournament.

Wamps forward Brian Gallagher sliced through the CM defense and roofed a shot over Collett. The goal light went on, the Wamps celebrated, and the Knights looked to regroup. However the referee, who was just to the right of Collett waved the goal off.

After a meeting with the other officials, followed by a meeting with the goal judge, the call stood.

STILL POTENTIAL GLORY: The silver lining in Braintree's loss is that the Wamps are still playing hockey. Braintree will slot into the top seed in Division 1 South and will face either Falmouth or Walpole this weekend in the sectional quarterfinal.

Fasano said that tough odds were a manageable task for his team.

“These guys have responded all year,” Fasano said. “We lost opening night. We were 5-4-1 at one time and weren't sure what way we were going to go. We had a nice team meeting and we decided to go the right way. They've battled through some adversity.”

The Wamps will enter a wide-open South bracket that includes Marshfield on their side and possible opponents Archbishop Williams and Barnstable on the other side.

“Our guys got to keep their heads up, and hopefully we can make a run at in the Division 1 tournament,” Fasano said. “I think we've got enough talent to make a serious run. We didn't do any shame out here tonight. We'll be back at it.”

Recap: Braintree 3, Catholic Memorial 0

February, 22, 2014
Feb 22
1:55
AM ET
BOSTON – A potential spot in the Super 8 was on the line Friday afternoon at Walter Brown Arena on the campus of Boston University. The urgency displayed by both teams was apparent through the first two periods, but it was Braintree’s third-period explosion that lifted the Wamps past Catholic Memorial, 3-0.

“I think this is a huge statement win. We earned it in the third period,” said Braintree head coach David Fasano.

With 13 seniors as a calming presence, Braintree didn’t show any signs of alarm, even with the score remaining scoreless entering the final period.

“[The senior leadership] means a lot in between periods, out on the ice and on the bench,” Fasano said. “A few of them don’t play a lot, but they’re all out there supporting their teammates.”

He added, “Last year we were on edge when we took the ice against [CM]. This year there was no panic at all out there.”

Instead, Braintree just came out with more intensity and determination to give the committee one last reason to include the Bay State Carey champions.

“We talked about it in the locker room,” Fasano said. “The boys came out and knew their season was on the line if they wanted to play in a play-in game Monday. They responded. When we were ready to take the ice for the third period there was fire in their eyes.”

As much confidence as the coach had in the players, the team was comforted by some reassuring words from their leader entering the finale frame.

“Coach just told us, ‘We got this, we can do this,’” said senior Nick Ward.

Ward wasted no time, giving his team a 1-0 advantage just 14 seconds into the final period. He drove to the net hard, splitting two CM defenders, before backhanding a shot past Brandon Collett.

“It worked out right away. It came right out to me in the middle and I had some speed going. I tried to take him wide and luckily it went in,” said Ward.

With Braintree enjoying sustained forecheck in the Knights zone, Dylan Casserly extended the lead with a quick snap shot from the high slot that snuck through the five-hole of Collett.

The Wamps were terrific getting sticks in shooting lanes and blocking shots all game.

“The kids laid it all on the line. We were blocking shots and our goaltender [Nick Anson] played outstanding. It was probably his best game of the season,” explained Fasano. “Nick made a few saves in the third period that gave us momentum,” added the coach.

With Catholic Memorial’s net empty in favor of the extra attacker Brian Gallagher blocked a shot and went the length of the ice to seal the deal for the third and final tally of the game.

The loss marked the eighth game in a row without a win for the Knights, leaving the team’s Super 8 fate in the balance.

“I feel that we deserve to be there with our overall body of work this year,” said veteran head coach Bill Hanson. “Recently? No. I hope the committee looks at the whole picture. We’re still .500 in our league. We had quality opponents and quality wins.”

The win gave Braintree an 8-0-2 record over its last 10 games entering the postseason, including wins over Duxbury and CM in the past few weeks. It’s a feat that Fasano and many observers believe could propel the Wamps into the Super 8.

“I believe we belong in the play-in game, at least,” the 14-year coaching veteran said of his team’s Super 8 prospects. “I’m out there [at the selection committee meeting] every year and the key is always how you’re playing down the stretch. We have eight wins and two ties over our last 10 games. We’ve beat St. Mary’s, Duxbury and CM.

“Our goal is to keep winning. We want to make it to the last game of the season,”

Recap: No. 7 Central Catholic 4, No. 3 CM 3

February, 18, 2014
Feb 18
1:17
AM ET
BOSTON – Central Catholic rallied from three one-goal deficits to defeat Catholic Memorial, 4-3, on the heels of Lloyd Hayes' breakaway goal with 1:58 left in Monday’s duel of Super 8 hopefuls at Walter Brown Arena.

“It's huge for us moving forward,” Central coach Mike Jankowski said. “That's the type of game we've been looking for. The tight ones when we haven't been able to pull away and separate ourselves, and today we did.”

Hayes led the way for the Raiders on the ice and on the boards. The senior first-liner set the tone physically from the start and played like a bulldozer for the full 45 minutes. To go with his goal, he had an assist on Central's third goal earlier in the third period.

“That's the way we have to play – going to corners, getting pucks, and getting traffic to the net,” Hayes said. “That's the way we're going to win these teams, especially against good teams like CM.”

The Knights were led by senior captain Aaron Clancy who scored a goal and added a pair of assists. Linemate Mike Stathopoulos had CM's first goal and had the primary assist on Clancy's.

CM coach Bill Hanson had less to say about his team's offense and more about his team's lack of consistency on the back end.

“We had an assist on every one of their goals except for the power play,” Hanson said. “We had two blatant turnovers which they, as a good team, capitalized on. It's just the lack of mental toughness and mental athleticism to make the mistakes they make contrary to the way that they're coached.”

The Raiders found numerous ways to deflate the Knights.

Hayes' goal popped the balloon, and Colin Soucy made several spectacular saves to keep CM from pulling away. Christian Thompson's fluke goal, which was blockered away by CM goalie Brandon Collett only to bounce over him and in, with 91 seconds left in the second period was another guy punch for the Knights.

Central's recent rejiggering of its lines seems to have paid off. Breaking up the original top line of Hayes-Alex Lester-Corey Webber has allowed for other players to step up for the Raiders and jell in different ways.

“I think we've done a lot of different changes and everyone puts certain guys together,” Jankowski said. “It helps to get everyone in the game, and we've seen it game in game out. Everyone's finishing, getting some goals.”

Jankowski was pleased with his team's performance, but Hanson, who gave credit to Central for its performance, was anything but.

I take no positives out of this at all,” Hanson said. “We are killing ourselves.”

ROBBINS RISES: Sometimes it's good to have a Batman and sometimes it's good to have a Robin[ns].

Central's Eric Robbins, who was slotted onto the first line alongside Hayes and Zach Cote, stepped up in a big way. Robbins assisted on Central's first and third goals and was omnipresent throughout the game.

“Whenever coach switches up the lines we try to do something new,” Robbins said. “We usually jell pretty early and we were doing good out there today. I try to help the team out as much as I can. If I get moved up I get moved up.”

Robbins first assist came when his initial shot was cleaned up by Richie Greenberg, who has played alongside Robbins for most of the season.

“We always seem to find each other whenever we're on the ice,” Robbins said.

Jankowski said Robbins' best ability was being able to play with poise anywhere on the sheet.

“He gets his points here and there, but honestly he's a great two-way player,” Jankowski said. “He's a defensive center. He's really made each line move whenever we've moved him around. We talk about mixing the lines to find the best recipe to move forward and he allows us to do that.”

Recap: No. 2 BC High 5, No. 3 CM 0

February, 13, 2014
Feb 13
2:41
AM ET


DORCHESTER, Mass. – It happened again, and this time it was even more disparate.

With archrivals BC High and Catholic Memorial squaring off in a de facto Catholic Conference championship game at UMass-Boston, Wednesday night, the Knights were looking for a better effort than their 4-1 loss about a week prior. BC High had dominated that tilt at Conte Forum, at one point in the second period outshooting CM by a 22-4 margin.

The second leg of the teams’ league slate wasn’t all that different, as the Eagles again flexed their offensive muscle with a remarkable dominance in time of possession, en route to a 5-0 victory.

Through two periods, BC High had outshot the Knights 24-2 – a dizzying disparity between two of the state’s preeminent programs and bitter rivals.

The Eagles’ attack was balanced as well, as five different players scored, with eight players cracking the score sheet in total and, as a sum, they skated away with the Catholic Conference regular season crown in front of a capacity crowd on Senior Night.

“I think it’s big for whole school, everybody in the locker room,” Eagles senior captain Steve DeForge said. “That’s the first trophy you want to get, but there’s a couple more championships we want to get. There’s that one down in Falmouth [Buddy Ferreira Classic] and then we want to get the big one, the Super 8.”

Although BC High (12-1-3, 6-1-1) held the Knights (9-4-3, 3-2-2) without a shot in the first period, the Eagles were held off the board until its final minute. The Eagles peppered CM goaltender Brandon Collett (28 saves) with 12 shots in the first, but didn’t break through until there was 7.2 seconds remaining in the period, as Chris LaLiberte stuffed home a loose puck from the doorstep for his first on the season.

The Eagles’ momentum swelled in the second, when they scored four times in the span of two minutes and 11 seconds.

Three of those goals came during a stretch of 4-on-4 and an abbreviated power play. First, senior defenseman Sam Topham’s skillful keep at the point resulted in a DeForge goal at 12:07. Then, just 26 seconds later, Patrick Kramer was the beneficiary of a Ryan Shea pass on a 2-on-1 break.

On the power play, Topham rifled off a top shelf slap shot at 13:17, with Shea (2 A) and DeForge (1 G, 2 A) adding assists.

Connor Noonan capped the late-period flurry with the Eagles’ fourth goal of the second at 14:18.

While the Knights had several scoring chances in the final period, they didn’t come close to establishing pressure in BC High’s zone and the Eagles held a33-6 shot-on-goal advantage overall.

“They won every puck, they won every battle,” CM head coach Bill Hanson said.

“Passes went off sticks, but that’s because they were in our faces. It wasn’t for lack of effort, I thought we gave good effort. We’re just not as good as they are, it’s simple as that.”

Oh, what a night: Any hockey matchup between BC High and CM is memorable, but to the Eagles’ seniors it was much more than that.

“They knew this was a special opportunity, playing their last home game in front of an amazing crowd,” Eagles head coach John Flaherty said. “It was a special moment.”

They seized the opportunity, controlling play from the get-go, in the same manner they had just a week ago, when they took control of the league race with a win at BC’s Conte Forum.

For the Eagles, it was a slight revision to an already effective script.

“You know he’s a good goalie, so we want to get traffic and you have to get shots,” Flaherty said. “We were trying to get pucks everywhere and anywhere to get them to the cage.”

On the flip side, while Hanson was less than thrilled with his team’s compete level in their first meeting with BC High, the same could not be said for Wednesday – even considering the margin of defeat.

“They’re just much better than we are,” he said. “They have much better personnel, highly-skilled and the way that they play forces us to look bad. It’s them.”

CM finishes out its Catholic Conference schedule Friday with a visit to No. 1 Malden Catholic.

Mastery on the breakout: A large element to the Eagles’ success this season has been their deep and talented defensive corps. It’s not unusual for BC High to roll seven defensemen in games, with perhaps the state’s best top two pairings.

While sophomores Billy Roche and Shea have generated a good amount of buzz, BC High has leaned on its senior pairing of Topham and Trevor Davis.

Topham, in particular, was excellent on Wednesday. Whether putting on a perfect pinch in the lead up to BC High’s second goal, or stemming the breakout with a tape-to-tape outlet pass, Topham typified the performance the Eagles have gotten from their blue-liners this year.

And that all starts with the work of BC High assistant coach Bob Roche.

“He’s very nit-picky,” Topham said of Roche. “But it’s good for all of us. He keeps us from the making the same mistakes over and over again.”

That is borne out of the incessant pursuit of perfection and attention to detail in practice.

“Half of every practice, at least the practice before a game, we’re working on the neutral zone,” Topham said. “We’re looking to see where the open guy is. We do drills where we break it out, looking for each other. We’re working on it all the time.”

Recap: No. 1 BC High 4, No. 2 CM 1

February, 4, 2014
Feb 4
2:45
AM ET


CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – Who can stop the rolling train that is BC High hockey?

The No. 1 Eagles remained unbeaten in the Catholic Conference and overall, with a 4-1 victory over No. 2 Catholic Memorial Monday at Conte Forum. In it, BC High dominated time of possession and the number of scoring chances and shots on goal – at one point of the second period, outshooting CM 22-4.

Although the Knights got their lone goal in the first minute of the first period, the Eagles were in control throughout.

“It was a good effort from everybody, top to bottom,” Eagles head coach John Flaherty said.

BC High (11-0-3, 5-0-1 Catholic) netted the game-tying and game-winning goals on the power play.

After Zach Sullivan provided CM (9-3-2, 3-1-1) with a 1-0 lead in the first minute of the game, it wasn’t until the final minute of the period that the Eagles found the equalizer. Patrick Kramer scored on the power play with 16.8 seconds to play to send the teams to the intermission tied.

BC High cashed in on the man-advantage (2-for-5) again at 9:32 of the second period on Steve DeForge’s goal.

“He’s a complete player – add on his leadership capabilities and he’s phenomenal,” Flaherty said of DeForge. “This is his locker room, this is his team. He’s a great leader and in games like this his size and his shot come in handy.”

Tim Larocque scored less than a minute later to extend the Eagles’ lead to two at 10:36. Sam Topham and Chris LaLiberte added assists.

Patrick Riley rounded out scoring with 1:56 remaining in the game.

“They were flat-out better than us,” CM head coach Bill Hanson said. “They showed up, they played hard, they played smart and they were flat-out, man for man, better than us.

“They forced the issue, we didn’t respond.”

Difference-maker: BC High sophomore defenseman Ryan Shea was awarded the Ed Wright Cup as the MVP of the game, after putting up a pair of assists.

For Shea, an ever-emerging Division 1 prospect who’s only played on the blue line for the last two years of his hockey career, the learning curve has been made easier by his teammates.

“Sam Topham and Trevor Davis, our two assistant captains, they really control it back there,” Shea said. “They settle it if me or Billy Roche gets aggravated, they settle us down. It’s a good corps, I like playing with them a lot.”

Shea’s game stands out most on the breakout of the defensive zone.

BC High was able to establish a crisp breakout throughout, negating the Knights’ usual aggressive and effective forecheck. But with a stable of slick-skating, strong passing defenseman, the Eagles found little resistance moving it up ice and into the attacking zone.

“They’re a tough team, they come in hard,” Shea said. “When they force behind the net, with the two wingers down low, it’s an easy breakout every time. They caught onto it at the end of the game, we had to switch it up a little bit.”

DeForge added, “Our biggest strength is our speed and it starts in our own zone. When we’re getting clean breakouts, we’re getting back in our zone, those back-checkers are getting back and taking care of the D side.”
CM hockeyScott Barboza/ESPNBoston.comCatholic Memorial played New Jersey powerhouse Delbarton School at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, as part of the NHL's Stadium Series.
NEW YORK -- As unnatural a statement it might be, in the elements, it can be said that hockey teams are sometimes out of their element.

Although weather didn’t come into play in Catholic Memorial’s duel with New Jersey powerhouse Delbarton School, Saturday at Yankee Stadium, the characteristics of outdoor ice sheets are such that no team can play as they would in the controlled environment of the rink.

Take the case of the Green Wave, for instance.

“It’s our first outdoor game, so the learning process goes on throughout the game,” Delbarton head coach Bruce Shatel said of the game, which was played as part of the NHL’s Stadium Series. “We are traditionally an East-West team, but tonight it needed to be North-South. We were trying to stretch them out and back them off.”

While skating up and down the length of the sheet for periods, neither team was able to find the back of the net. But when the Green Wave adopted a more conservative dump-and-chase attack in the third period and broke through the Knights’ dogged forecheck, the goals came in bowls.

Delbarton skated away with a 3-0 win on the heels of a 20-save shutout from freshman goaltender Troy Kobryn.

[+] EnlargeCM hockey
Scott Barboza/ESPNBoston.comCM's Yankee Stadium trip was their second outdoor game in three years, having played BC High at Fenway Park in 2012. The Knights were shut out on both occasions.
“They played uncharacteristic of how they can play,” CM head coach Bill Hanson said of Delbarton. “We’re not as skilled as they are. We can certainly go up and down the ice and battle with them, as we did for two periods.

“It wasn’t pretty for either team, but we went into the third period for the ninth time this year with a chance to get a win.”

For the Knights (9-2-2), who have been strong in third periods of late, Saturday was a bit of an aberration.

They outshot Delbarton by an 11-4 margin in the second period, to gain a 16-11 advantage through 30 minutes before meeting the Green Wave’s onslaught in the third. That’s when Delbarton returned the favor, peppering CM netminder Brandon Collett (18 saves) with an 11-shot barrage.

“We grind it and we find a way to get to the third period,” Hanson said. “We’ve won three out of our last four games in the third period, and another in overtime, that’s pretty darned good.”

He added, “Both teams are better than what they showed out there tonight, It was tough playing.”

After two free-flowing and penalty-free periods, Delbarton broke the stalemate at 4:16 of the third. Tyler Kobryn banked one home with assists from defenseman Michael Gilfillan and Chad Otterman. Gilfillan had a hand in the Green Wave’s second tally as well as Harrison Newman redirected his point shot in front of Collett for a 2-0 lead at 9:55.

Will McCarthy rounded out scoring with 2:42 to play with an assist from Sean McLaughlin.

All three Green Wave goals were the result of a strong net-front presence – setting screens in front of the cage, getting sticks on pucks and working hard below the face-off dots.

“We didn’t have any of that in the first or the second,” Shatel said. “It’s great that our kids rose to the occasion on the big stage and made some plays. Obviously, to win a game on this stage against an unbelievable opponent like Catholic Memorial is something that we’ll remember forever.”

Toeing the rubber: While Delbarton controlled the pace of play in the third, it was in the second that the Green Wave’s first-year goaltender earned his stripes.

With the Knights buzzing in the offensive zone, Troy Kobryn was a factor.

What’s perhaps even more remarkable was the young goaltender’s cool demeanor. Kobryn, a 1999 birthdate, is just 14 years old and looked mature beyond his years in one of professional sports most iconic settings.

“He’s got composure beyond his years,” Shatel said. “He’s a very talented kid who’s got a very bright future in this game. I think he’s 14 years old, and to be playing at Yankee Stadium and pitch a shutout, that’s pretty impressive.”

Next up: For all the pomp and circumstance that a chance to skate at the Yankees’ home brought, it is the Knights’ next game that almost certainly will have greater bearing on their postseason hopes and beyond.

A date with archrival No. 1 BC High at Boston College’s Conte Forum looms Monday (4 p.m.), so Saturday’s disappointment will quickly give way to a more pressing task.

“If we would have stayed home, we would have practiced against each other,” Hanson said, “but this was real good preparation for us. We got some pucks in close, but we weren’t opportunistic on the chances that we did have.”

Recap: No. 6 Catholic Memorial 3, No. 2 MC 2

January, 26, 2014
Jan 26
12:48
AM ET


BOSTON – Against a team as fast and skilled as Malden Catholic, the margin for error in the neutral and – in particular – the defensive is slim.

That’s why Catholic Memorial head coach Bill Hanson spent the lead-up to Saturday’s Catholic Confrence clash emphasizing responsibility through those two zones and the principle of taking away time and space from the Lancers’ forwards.

The Knights delivered on that promise, and combined with a 37-save performance from sophomore goaltender Brandon Collett and a couple of timely goals from senior winger Mike Stathopoulos, the No. 6 Knights delivered a 3-2 win over the second-ranked Lancers.

“We worked a lot on executing, getting the puck out of the zone,” Stathopoulos said. “If it’s not in the zone, they’re going to have trouble scoring, so we just wanted to get the puck out of the zone and really lock down the neutral zone, then make sure we work the puck down deep in their zone.”

Despite their attention to detail, the Knights (8-1-2, 2-0-1 Catholic) emerged a bit flat-footed in the first, while being outshot by MC (8-3-0, 2-2-0) by a 12-2 margin.

The opening stanza is when Collett turned in perhaps his finest work, keeping CM in the game while stopping a number of Lancers’ scoring chances. None was finer than his stop on an Ara Nazarian back-hander off a partial breakaway with about three minutes remaining in the first.

“Territorially, in that first period, they did what they do best, they attack the net,” Hanson said. “Our goaltender had to play real well in the first period to keep us in the game.”

The Knights turned the territorial battle in their favor in the second, propelled by an early goal from Stathopoulos. Just 11 seconds into the period, Stathopoulos floated a wrister from the right wing circle past Alex Reissis (16 saves).

CM outshot the Lancers, 10-5, in the stanza, but MC was able to head to the room all square after Matt Filipe’s tally at 8:46.

The Lancers claimed the lead at 4:26 of the third period on a Jake Witkowski goal. The lead was shortlived, however, as Aaron Clancy responded for CM just 36 seconds later.

The Knights reclaimed the lead with 7:58 remaining on Stathopoulos’ second of the game. CM defenseman Frank Cosolito earned his second assist, firing off a shot from the point with Stathopoulos putting back the rebound off the initial save.

“He’s playing with confidence and he’s an intelligent kid,” Hanson said of Stathopoulos. “There’s no nervousness in him.”

Little things add up: On the Knights’ methodology for success Saturday, Hanson outlined it to be: “We just didn’t want them to get odd-manned situations against us.”

Hanson lauded the efforts of his top defensive pairing of Cosolito and Tim Weinstein, which was rolled out each time MC’s top line touched the ice.

But defense is a team game, and the Knights forward shared in the responsibility – much of which was left to junior center Anthony Panaggio, who went toe-to-toe with the reigning Mr. Hockey award winner in the circle.

“He got in his shirt just enough to not let up that extra step,” Hanson said of Panaggio. “I thought he was tremendous tonight. [Nazarian] skates as well as anybody, but he was in his kitchen.”

Conversely, Lancers head coach John McLean thought his team was outworked and unable to get the greasy kind of goals required to win a tight Catholic Conference game.

“You get pucks on net, get to the net and good things happen, but we’re not doing that enough right now,” McLean said. “We’re kind of shooting and watching, there were a lot of rebounds that we weren’t in the dirty areas to get to.

“When you have a good, hard-working defensive team like that, you have to take your lumps to get a goal.”

Work in progress: On that first line of Malden Catholic, it took another new look on Saturday, as the Lancers look to find the right combination heading into the pivotal month of February.

Filipe, skated the right wing alongside Nazarian and Tyler Sifferlen to start the game, with the trio combining on the Lancers’ first goal.

Witkowski stepped back onto the line, as the MC’s top line was again on the ice for its second goal.

“We’re doing what we did last year, trying to fine the right combination and who gels well,” McLean said. “[Filipe] is an outstanding center, but wherever he goes, he’s an outstanding player.”

One more skate for CM's Kevin Bletzer

January, 23, 2014
Jan 23
9:16
PM ET
For Catholic Memorial senior Kevin Bletzer, the changing of the seasons is marked with an exchange of sporting equipment.

A three-sport captain who’ll graduate to Boston College next year and play football, the Medfield native makes – what appears to be – a seamless transition from one to the next.

But even for a Division 1-caliber athlete, there’s one time of the year that’s particularly challenging. It comes the week after Thanksgiving, when the football spikes go in the closet and the skates come out.

“It’s like walking on water,” Bletzer said. “It’s brutal.”

[+] EnlargeBletzer
Scott Barboza/ESPNCatholic Memorial senior Kevin Bletzer passed up opportunities to play Division 1 college lacrosse to pursue his dream of playing Division 1 football at Boston College next year. He's still playing one more season of high school hockey.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder is a jack-of-all-trades.

On the football field, Bletzer has been a Swiss Army knife for the Knights – lining up at cornerback, safety and inside and outside linebaker on defense, while playing running back, full back, tight end, wide receiver and even a little quarterback. He even returned punts during his high school career.

When lacrosse season comes, he’s heat-seeking missile in the defensive midfield while enough stick still to play in the offensive half as well. Earlier in his high school career, Bletzer had offers in hand from UMass-Amherst and Penn State for lacrosse.

Then there’s Bletzer’s “first love.”

“I remember my dad putting me in Learn to Skate and I absolutely hated it,” Bletzer said of his earliest hockey memories. “My feet hurt in the skates, and we weren’t actually playing hockey, we were just skating around. It was brutal.

“But then, when we started playing, a lot of my friends that I’m still playing with now were the ones I played with then. I was hooked.”

Since around the age of 3, when his father, Kurt, first laced up his skates, Kevin’s been a rink rat in the winter. That also extends to the Bletzer family’s ice sheet in the backyard, where Kevin, younger brother, Kurt, and members of CM’s hockey team can be found just about any afternoon.

With a program rich in tradition as Knights hockey is under the direction of Bill Hanson, many Boston-area skaters dream of pulling on Montreal Canadiens’ style “CM” sweater. For many, it’s the zenith of their life in the game.

But, for Bletzer, with a promising future on the gridiron ahead of him, a major decision came during his junior season, last year, when he considered giving up one of his passions in order to pursue a full-fledged shot at big time college football.

“I asked him if he could do me a favor, I told him I needed him in the locker room,” Hanson said of a conversation he had with Bletzer during tryouts last year. “He hadn’t developed as a hockey player that way we thought he would, but that’s because he hasn’t played as much as everybody else. But I knew we were going to be young last year and we needed him in that room.”

Bletzer had resigned himself to running track and putting extra time in the weight room, preparing for football season. That experiment lasted a couple of days before his hunger to return to the ice took over.

“I was like, ‘This is all we do?’” Bletzer said. “I was missing it too much.”

Bletzer rejoined the team, contributing to a Knights team that endured a first-round, best-of-three Super 8 tournament duel with archrival BC High, before bowing out to eventual champion Malden Catholic in the semifinals.

“He ended up having a hell of a year,” Hanson added.

And so the challenge for Bletzer and Co. entering the 2013-14 season was how to keep that momentum going. For Bletzer, himself, naturally, it takes a little while to get going.

“It takes about a month to get your skating legs back,” Bletzer said after a recent practice at the Cleveland Circle rink, a stone’s throw from BC’s Alumni Stadium. “The hardest part of the transition is getting to the point where I was at the end of the last season.”

Not matter how the Knights season might end, however, this will be Bletzer’s last go playing competitive hockey. And, as soon as lacrosse season concludes, he’s divesting his former interests to jump into football entirely.

While those elements of Bletzer’s athletic career will go away, it’s part of what made him alluring to BC’s coaching staff.

Bletzer first’s Division 1 FBS scholarship offer was his last, as he gave his verbal commitment to the Eagles following their camp in June. He received the call that the Eagles intended to offer him from assistant coach Ryan Day while he was at a lacrosse tournament with his Laxachusetts travel team.

Even though Bletzer has yet to sign his National Letter of Intent, Steve Addazio and staff didn’t want him to deviate from his original plan.

“They were more than OK with me playing every single sport because they liked that about me,” Bletzer said. “Just as long as I know, after lacrosse season, that’s it’s all football, and just to be ready for that.”

The intent is for Bletzer to work with Eagles defensive backs coach Kevin Lempa as a safety when he arrives at the Heights.

It will mark yet another transition for Bletzer. But for a player who’s prided himself on versatility and doing whatever is required for his team, it seems a natural progression.

“Not very many freshman make the varsity football team at CM,” Knight football head coach and athletic director Alex Campea said. “At the time he made the team, we had some pretty talented kids on that team -- Cam Williams, Armani Reeves, A.J. Doyle. They really took him under his wing and were great teammates to him. They showed him the ropes.

“Now, in his time, he’s done that for his teammates, too, which is really an indication of his leadership qualities.”

For now, Bletzer’s focused on making the most of hockey season, taking advantage of even the smallest time with his younger brother. With a sizeable contingent of players from Medfield on this year’s roster, Kevin Bletzer’s led the morning caravan to West Roxbury, then to the rink, then home, and then maybe some time for a little pond hockey.

“I think this hockey season has been a breath of fresh air for him,” Hanson said. “He’s playing with his brother, he’s captain of the team and playing for a team that is really a great group of kids to be around.

“This team is kind of like a group of kids who play pond hockey, that’s how they approach the game together, in games, too – they’re having fun.”

Recap: No. 8 CM 2, No. 9 St. John's Prep 1

January, 12, 2014
Jan 12
1:40
AM ET
WILMINGTON, Mass. – Catholic Memorial and St. John's Prep were both in search of their first marquee win yesterday at Ristuccia Arena.

The Knights got it.

After an entertaining, back-and-forth affair, No. 8 CM escaped with a 2-1 win in the Knights’ Catholic Conference opener.

“We started off pretty slow,” CM's Mike Stathopolous said. “We kind of settled down between the first and second periods and then came into the second doing stuff with the system and kind of got after it.”

Stathopolous had a solid game that culminated when he fed sophomore Paul Hardiman, who buried it in the top corner above the should of Prep goalie Brian Conroy, early in the third to put CM ahead for good.

Before CM (6-1-0, 1-0-0) was able to score the go-ahead goal, it had to stave off the Prep attack that ambushed them in the first period. Prep outshot CM 12-2 in the first period and was able to solve Brandon Collett when Mark Etherington slid behind the CM defense and scored on a pass from Jim Currier with 10 seconds remaining in the period.

“They just jumped all over us, took the play away from us,” CM coach Bill Hanson said. “They won the battles along the wall and we just said settled down. Our goaltender kept us in the game, he was terrific.”

The Knights' offense shook off the bus legs in the second period and flipped the script on Prep. CM outshot the Eagles 10-5 in the second and every offensive line had quality scoring chances. None was better than Bill Czar tipping a shot into the top corner midway through the period to tie the game.

Collett buckled down in net for the Knights and finished the game with 27 saves.

“We had to grind it out and get the win,” Collett said. “That's how it's going to be all year.”

Prep (3-4-1, 0-3-1) had plenty of chances in the third period, the Eagles put 11 shots on goal, but they were unable to tie the game.

St. John's head coach Kristian Hanson gave credit to Collett in goal but also said that his team had to be more direct offensively.

“The guys just have to crash the net more, get some garbage goals, and play dirty,” Hanson said. “When I say dirty I mean go to the net, get in the dirty areas that no one wants to stand in. That's how you score goals. A lot of the stuff we're trying to do is too cute out there. It just doesn't work.”

MR. 600: Saturday's win was a historic one for Bill Hanson as it was his 600th win at the helm of the Knights. After all the years and all the wins, Hanson said he'd lost track.

“I had no idea,” Hanson said. “I knew it would be sometime this year, but I didn't know when.”

Hanson's teams have won 17 Super 8 titles and he's coached more than two dozen NHL draft picks. Even with the victories and accolades, Hanson said he was proud to achieve the goal with this year's Knights.

“The fact that I don't keep track of it tells you a lot,” Hanson said. “It couldn't have been with a greater group of kids too. You saw that game, they're a fun group to watch.”

EMPTY BOX: Catholic Conference rivalries run deep so it was quite a surprise that not a single penalty was called during yesterday's game. Apart from one or two moments in the third period there wasn't even a non-call that angered the fans.

Both coaches gave credit to their teams playing hockey within the rules.

“They let us play, but the kids to their credit, [at] the whistle stopped,” Bill Hanson said. “No one yaps. No high sticks … just real good disciplined teams.”

“I'd rather play every game without penalties,” Kristian Hanson said. “The refs did a good job today. It was a clean game anyways. I think we made their job easy.”

Stathopolous said that it was a pleasant difference to having a flowing game on the ice.

“The refs did a great job letting us play,” Stathopolous said. “There were some things that could have been called, but if you want to play a team you want to play them five-on-five. It was a good game.”

Recap: Catholic Memorial 5, Hingham 1

January, 5, 2014
Jan 5
1:49
AM ET
HINGHAM, Mass. – Zach Sullivan scored twice in the first period and Anthony Pannagio added a pair of goals in the second period to propel Catholic Memorial to a dominating 5-1 victory over Hingham at the Pilgrim Skating Arena on Saturday night.

The visiting Knights (5-1-0) got off to a strong start in the first period, forcing Hingham goaltender Jack Santilli into eight saves before Sullivan opened the scoring. The puck found the junior forward in left circle and he fired a wrister past the goalie. Gunnar McKenzie had the assist.

The Harbormen (1-5-1) had a solid scoring opportunity in the first period Ethan Iaria has a shot from the slot go narrowly wide. Three minutes after opening the scoring Sullivan made it 2-0. The puck was shot in from the point by McKenzie and Santilli’s save landed on the stick of Aaron Clancy who sent a pass behind the goalie through the crease to a wide-open Sullivan.

The Knights controlled most of the attacking play and had a 12-2 advantage in shots after the opening period, which head coach Bill Hanson noted is becoming a pattern for his team – even if it was not a perfect game.

He said, “We’ve been consistent in that style of play all year. You know, our effort and the intensity was there, but physically we were a day late and a dollar short a lot of times.”

Hanson added, “We didn’t have our best legs at all tonight, but the power play worked well and our discipline was fabulous. We beat a pretty good hockey team.”

The Knights added to their lead in the second period with a power play goal two minutes in by Pannagio, who knocked home a loose puck at the side of the net. Hingham responded by turning up the pressure and got its reward when freshman Matt Demelis followed up a rebound on a shot from Luke McInnis that trickled through the pads of CM goalie Brandon Collett.

Unfortunately for the Harbormen, any momentum that the goal could have given them was taken away by another penalty and another power play goal by the visitors. Again it was Pannagio that provided the lift with a point-blank, one-timer on a centering pass by Michael Stathopolous that made it 4-1.

“The penalties hurt us,” said Hingham head coach Tony Messina. “They’re not good penalties and you just can’t win against a team like CM when you’re taking those kinds of penalties.”

He added, “We’ve been having a little bit of trouble generating offense lately. But, you know, I thought at times we played very well tonight and we’ve had moments where we give up easy goals and that’s what happened tonight.”

Hingham held an 11-9 advantage on shots in the third period, but most of those shots came from long distance and were little trouble for Collett. Messina thought the team played well in spurts but admitted the Harbormen need to try and create more solid scoring opportunities.

“We’re trying to get the guys to drive to the net,” he remarked. “I thought we had some decent moments where we created chances but a lot of the shots were from the perimeter. I think we out shot them in the third, but most of them were harmless.”

Catholic Memorial wrapped up the scoring with eight minutes remaining on an unassisted goal by Eion Hurley to make it 5-1. Hansen was pleased with the result ahead of a tough stretch that includes games with conference rivals St. John’s Prep and Xaverian.

He commented, “In this building, it’s hard to play. I think they have a little advantage when they play here. We’ll take 5-1 at this point.”

Recap: Framingham 2, No. 6 Catholic Memorial 1

December, 28, 2013
12/28/13
4:39
AM ET
FRAMINGHAM, Mass. -- It is not an uncommon occurrence for one person's performance to lift an entire team.

Framingham goaltender Al Lynch proved it Friday night. The senior put forth a grand performance between the pipes, stopping 41 of 42 shots in leading the Flyers to a stunning 2-1 triumph over No. 6 Catholic Memorial in the opening round of the Silverback Hockey Classic inside Loring Arena.

With the victory, Framingham (2-2-0) will face St. John's (Shrewsbury) in the title game Saturday night beginning at 7:50 p.m. The Knights will play in the consolation game (5:50 p.m.) versus Marshfield.

"It all starts with our forwards to our defense then all the way back to me," Lynch said. "When your team is feeling it, it's easy to play well behind them."

You had an inkling that Lynch's evening would be special after he turned aside 17 CM shots in the opening period to keep the game scoreless. Often times, Framingham, playing without last year's top-scorer Corey Gorovitz (who is expected back for the title game), found itself limited once it was able to move the puck beyond the blue line. As is their nature, the Knights defense collapsed on any Flyer with the puck on his respective stick once inside their own zone. The Flyers mustered just one shot in the opening frame.

But because of Lynch's play, they remained upbeat.

"When it's a 0-0 game after one period and the goalie is feeling it then I think it's easy for the rest of the team to feel it as well and rally around him," said Lynch. "It was nice to get out of that first period feeling good. Once you get that first 15 minutes in, then the rest of the night the pucks begin to look like beach balls. Having everyone work their tails off all game, I think it proves something to us as a team as well as anyone watching."

Framingham's positive demeanor carried into the second period and was raised even highter after Chris McGinty's rebound goal at 4:25 to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead.

CM's frustration was evident. Numerous quality chances on net were swatted away by Lynch. Knight players could be seen often skating to their bench shaking their heads in dismay. With time ticking down in the period, CM, albeit briefly, was finally able to prove that Lynch was human afterall. Gunnar McKenzie, a sophomore forward, managed to direct a rebound shot by Eion Hurley past Lynch stick side at 13:13 to send the Knights into the second intermission tied 1-1.

The goal served as a much-needed lift for CM who believed it had out-played Framingham at both ends of the ice yet only had the one goal to show for it.

Any momentum gained following McKenzie's tally was diminished to begin the third. Just 13 seconds in, defenseman Joey Gilbert had the puck on his stick following a face off. Standing 20 feet to the left of CM goalie Brandon Collett (13 saves), the sophomore was able to skate in alone several feet before firing s shot into the upper left corner of the net, giving the Flyers a 2-1 advantage.

"For the most part I thought we played disciplined," Flyers head coach Paul Spear said. "You don't get to beat a team like that very often so tonight was very exciting. Our goaltender is outstanding and we feel he is a Division 1 prospect. He just played his heart out tonight. We've got to come back and play St. John's next but I told our kids we should be proud and happy but when we wake up in the morning lets put our focus on St. John's and try to win our own tournament."

Having regained the lead back, Framingham was consistent with its defensive effort. The Flyers played much tighter, allowing little space for the Knights to work in.

They also got a little more physical, pushing CM off its routes in its attempt to notch the tying score. With Lynch still working his magic, things got a bit more interesting after Framingham was called for a pair of penalties with under three minutes to go. However, both times the Flyers penalty unit did its job. Although the Knights (2-1) still managed to fire 14 shots at Lynch in the period, all were stopped giving Framingham one of its biggest victories in school history.

"We had a lot of scoring opportunities but their goaltender was up to the task," said CM head coach Bill Hanson. "But when we go back to watch this game, the little one-on-one battles especially in the last 1:15 their kids did a helluva’ job. We didn't have any open man situations or 2-on-1s and 3-on-2s. Our kids never let up and played hard throughout.

“There was no pity party inside our locker room. There is disappointment. But I still think we'll be a very good team. Paul [Spear] does a great job over there. He doesn't get enough credit being a real good X's and O's guy."

Recap: No. 10 Catholic Memorial 9, Natick 1

December, 17, 2013
12/17/13
12:07
AM ET


BOSTON – Catholic Memorial doesn’t have a true superstar, but the Knights are a deep team that can run four lines and continuously attack their opponents. That was evident on Monday afternoon at Walter Brown Arena on the campus of Boston University.

Junior captain Aaron Clancy, senior Michael Stathopolous and sophomore Paul Hardiman each scored two goals as the No. 10 Knights cruised past Natick, 9-1.

Hardiman and Stathopolous scored first period goals to take a 2-1 lead over Natick after 15 minutes. It was the only period that Natick mustered any offensive charge against CM and goaltender Brandon Collett.

The story of the night might have been the effectiveness of the second line for the Knights. Longtime Catholic Memorial coach Bill Hanson put Hardiman, Stathopolous and junior Anthony Pannagio together on the second line, and the trio displayed good chemistry and the ability to create offense.

“[Stathopolous] is a senior. It’s the first time he’s had a good night offensively. His engine, he’s playing hard and he’s getting after it,” Hanson said.

“Hardiman and Pannagio were our best penalty killers last year as freshmen. They played a ton for us last year. They weren’t good offensively as freshmen because it’s hard to play as freshmen. They’ve taken the next step. They’re good hockey players.”

The onslaught was on from there as CM scored seven times in the final 30 minutes to win going away. Zach Sullivan, Tim Weinstein and Will Conroy also added goals for Catholic Memorial.

The Knights improved to 2-0-0 on the young season, and are averaging 7.5 goals per game despite losing UMass recruit Liam Coughlin, one of the best offensive players in the state last season to graduation, and Cornell recruit Beau Starrett to juniors.

“We have a lot of the same cast of characters back from last year. My concern coming in was that they played so well last year making it to the [Super 8] Final Four, were they going to make that next step?” Hanson said. They really have exceeded my expectations. I’m pleasantly surprised. Their confidence factor is right where it should be.”

Hanson continued, “We don’t have Liam. We roll four lines. I firmly believe we have eight to nine guys who are 10, 12 goal scorers. The intensity and energy that we play with has to make up for Liam’s loss.”

Notes: Maine associate head coach Jay Leach and Los Angeles Kings scout Bob Crocker were both in attendance to take in the action at the former home of the Boston University Terriers … Clancy, the team’s top returning scorer, showed why with his quick release and ability to work well in traffic… Senior Will Conroy looked more like a skilled forward on his nifty breakaway goal to cap off the scoring… Catholic Memorial is off until Dec. 27 when it takes on Framingham in the Silverback Hockey Classic.

Super 8: Malden Catholic 5, Catholic Memorial 3

March, 13, 2013
3/13/13
11:24
PM ET


LOWELL, Mass. -- A quick look at the Malden Catholic line chart and you might do a double-take.

Ara Nazarian is only a sophomore?

That 5-foot-10, 185-pound bulldozer is only a sophomore? The same player that dominated last night’s Super 8 semifinal, a 5-3 win for the Lancers, is only a sophomore?

Nazarian potted a hat trick, including his fourth shorthanded goal of the tournament, as the Lancers moved on to their third straight Super 8 final as the Tsongas Center.

“He’s not a secret to me,” said Malden Catholic head coach John McLean. “I’ve coached him since he was a Mite. He likes big games. He gets up for these games. He had a great Super 8 last year and he’s fun to watch.”

Nazarian skated as the Lancers’ top-line center between Division 1 committed wingers Tyler Sifferlen (UMass-Lowell) and Mike Iovanna (Massachusetts).

“Two of them are already committed and Ara [Nazarian] will have his pick of a Division 1 school when he’s ready to make that choice,” McLean said. “He has a bright future ahead of him.”

The Lancers took a 1-0 lead early in the first period when Sifferlen managed to sneak a puck by Catholic Memorial freshman goaltender Brandon Collett.

The Knights knotted the score a little over a minute later when John Maher snapped a shot past MC netmidner Connor Maloney.

Nazarian’s short-handed tally gave the Lancers the lead back later in the first, as the Malden Catholic sophomore powered past a CM defender and was able to dangle a backhander through Collett’s five hole.

But the Knights just wouldn’t go away, as Jack O’Hear, a senior captain, tied the game.

The Lancers took the lead a third time just 29 seconds into the second period when Nazarian skated into the zone and sniped a wrister from the right circle that dinged off the post and into the net.

After CM tied the score for a third time, Michael Iovanna gave the Warriors the lead for good with just minutes remaining in the third period.

“I just wanted to get it on net,” said Iovanna, who also scored the game-winner for the Lancers in last season’s Super 8 title game. “It was a lucky bounce, I guess. I skated into the zone and Sifferlen did with the puck. He dropped it back to me and I saw a guy in a blue jersey in front so I was just trying to get it on net and it banked off their goalie and went in.”

It was the 10th win in a row for the Lancers and just their second win of the season over a Catholic Conference team.

“I’m happy for our kids,” McLean said. “We had a tough year. He had that bump in the road around January and a lot of people were doubting us. I think the kids were doubting themselves a bit and we became a team and it’s carried on.”

He continued, “But we haven’t accomplished what we want to accomplish. There’s still one more game to play.”

MALONEY'S STELLAR PLAY UNDER-THE-RADAR
Malden Catholic goaltender Connor Maloney has been a bit overshadowed with the stellar play of Nazarian and the three Division 1 commitments on the team in front of him.

But Maloney has been one of the best goaltenders in the state down the stretch, including making several tough saves against a CM team that was doing a good job getting traffic to the net.

“He was here last year and I think that experience helped him a lot,” McLean said. “That second goal, I’m not sure if it went five hole because of where I was standing, but I thought he maybe should have had that one. But other than that, he had a great game.”

LAST HURRAH FOR COUGHLIN, CM
Wednesday’s game proved to be the final one for Liam Coughlin, a senior who is also CM’s leading scorer.

“Liam has grown,” said CM head coach Bill Hanson. “He has been great and it’s been great watching him grow for three years. He has really learned the game and learned how to play in all three zones. He’s an incredible leader. He could have gone anywhere this year or last year but he wanted to come to Catholic Memorial and play in the Super 8.”

On the other end of the spectrum, CM freshman goaltender Brandon Collett made 28 saves for the Knights.

“If we don’t have him we’re not here,” Hanson said. “I didn’t even know who he was until the first day of tryouts. I had no idea. For him to come in and play at that level, for a kid who is quiet and unassuming and he’s a 15 year old, I’ve never had a goalie that young carry that much responsibility.”

He added, “We re-established Catholic Memorial hockey tonight.”

Super 8: Catholic Memorial 3, BC High 2

March, 11, 2013
3/11/13
1:54
AM ET


STONEHAM, Mass. -- It was too smooth. It was too easy. It was Liam Coughlin.

With less than 30 seconds left, Catholic Memorial’s Coughlin scooped up the puck behind BC High goalie Peter Cronin and circled around the net. With Cronin sprawled out and the BC High defense desperately out of position, Coughlin spun around, reset himself, and calmly lifted the puck over Cronin to put the Knights up 3-2 with 22.5 seconds left.

That’s how the game would end as CM defeated BC High 2-1 in the opening round of Super 8 to advance to Wednesday’s semifinals against Malden Catholic.

Coughlin, who led the Catholic Conference in scoring, had been held in check the first two games of the series before exploding for a pair of goals yesterday. He also had CM’s first goal.

“I was getting pucks to the net but they weren’t going in,” Coughlin said. “So I knew I had to go high. I always shoot low; I went high today and it worked.”

Coughlin and the Knights may have advanced to play on, but they did not make it easy on themselves. A slew of head-scratching penalties kept the Eagles power play on the ice, especially early in the game.

BC High made the Knights pay late in the first period when Patrick Kramer punched home a rebound past Brandon Collett.

“We did take a couple of needless penalties,” Catholic Memorial head coach Bill Hanson said. “The first one was a bad play by our kid, there was one down behind the net. We’ve been good at killing penalties all year long. We survived it.”

The Eagles assaulted Collett, peppering the freshman with 24 shots, but Collett buckled down when he had to and kept Tom Besinger & Co. at bay.

“It’s a BC High, CM game,” BC High head coach John Flaherty said. “A bounce one way, a bounce the other way, and it’s a difference in the game.”

Peter Cronin had a solid, 18-save showing in his final high school game. Flaherty said that he was sorry that Cronin, and the Eagles’ four other seniors, wouldn’t have a chance to continue on.

“Not every team makes it this far and I’m proud of my team for making it this far,” Flaherty said. “Disappointed for all my seniors; I think they deserved a better fate. Wish they could have a few more.

“I wish we could have him for more. [Michael] Brooks, [Ryan] McDonough, those guys have been around for a long time. They mean a lot to the program. They’ve done a lot of things for the program.”

Chris LaLiberte feathered a lazy wrist shot through some bodies and into the goal to put BC High up 2-1 early in the third. Catholic Memorial’s Aaron Clancy scored less than three minutes later to tie the game and set up the chaotic finish.

YOUTH IS SERVED
Collett does not yet have his driving license, but he already has the poise of a seasoned veteran.

Collett’s 22- save performance, in the biggest game of his fledgling career, earned much praise from his coach.

“He’s good,” Hanson said. “This is not a figment on anybody’s imagination, he can play the game.”

Hanson compared Collett to a couple of former CM greats.

“Jim Carey, Tom Noble they could have done it as freshmen, but didn’t have the opportunities to do it,” Hanson said. “This kid is the only freshman I’ve ever had that has played a full season of [varsity].”

A NEVERENDING RIVALRY
After going through the grinder of playing against each other three times in a week, both coaches had varying opinions about the new format used in the Super 8 tournament.

“BC High and CM, that rivalry of schools actually supersedes the hockey game,” Hanson said. “We compete with them in everything.”

After competing with the Knights for more than 230 minutes of hockey spread over five games, Flaherty said that the new tournament format might create too much of a good thing.

“If they don’t like how it works, I’m sure they’ll change it,” Flaherty said. “It’s something new, something different. I think playing someone five times is a lot, but it is what it is.”

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