Boston High School: Christian Smith

Super 8 recap: Central Cath. 6, Burlington 4

February, 28, 2012

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- Burlington coach Bob Conceison said he saw some good things from his hockey team Monday night. Just not enough of them.

Burlington fought back from a three-goal deficit, but Central Catholic was the better team from start to finish and posted a 6-4 victory in a Super 8 play-in game at Merrimack College's Lawler Arena.

“The difference in the game was our lack of consistency in some parts of the game,” Conceison said. “Our lack of execution in certain parts of the game – and the fact that they're a good team. They played the way they had to to beat us.”

Senior forward Mike Kelleher scored three goals for Central Catholic, which also received goals from Mike Hovnanian, Christian Smith and Nick Gorski (empty net).

Central Catholic improved its record to 13-3-5 and will face second-seeded St. Mary's (18-1-3) on Sunday at Merrimack College.

“Nothing surprises me with this group,” Central Catholic coach Mike Jankowski said. “They're resilient and hard-working. They believe and they keep pushing.”

Brien Diffley, Steve Mattos, C.J. Grinnell and Trevor Cimino provided the Burlington offense. The Red Devils dropped to 14-2-6.

Kelleher gave Central Catholic a 3-0 lead by recording a natural hat trick in the second period, but Burlington pulled even before the period ended. Diffley started the comeback by scoring a power-play goal at 10:52, then Mattos and Grinnell struck 14 seconds apart to tie the contest at 11:48.

The momentum shifted again before the period ended, however, as Hovnanian put CC in front 4-3 by scoring with 17 seconds to play.

Smith extended the lead to 5-3 in the third, but Cimino answered for Burlington with 1:19 to play. Gorski capped the scoring with an empty-net goal with one second on the clock.

“We've been shaky with those 3-0 leads, but we did well,” Central Catholic goaltender Kyle Williams said. “'We gave it up, but we got it back.

“They're a great team. Glad to beat them.”

Burlington had a 27-25 edge in shots on goal.

“The goal at the end of the second period was an answer for them,” Conceison said. “I give all the credit to Central. They're a good team, but our team never quit throughout the whole game. I'm proud of the way we played.”

Conseison said Central Catholic's physical play was one of the keys to victory.

“They took the body on us, and that's what good teams do,” he said. “They separated us from the puck and we weren't able to make the plays that sometimes we're able to make. They were a little bit bigger than us and a little more physical. When you play good teams that's the way they play you. That's what they do.”

Central Catholic entered the game with 69 goals in 20 games, so the Raiders weren't looking to get into a shootout. Jankowski said the team played its typical style, but benefited from two goals by its third line.

“The third line getting a couple goals, one of them with [17] seconds left – that can make a big difference,” Jankowski said. “Mike Kelleher was just a different person. He was the real deal tonight.

“I thought we played our game. Goals are hard to come by for us. They're all manufactured, working-class goals, but tonight we showed a little bit more and it was nice to see.”

Recap: No. 5 CC 4, No. 21 Chelmsford 3

February, 16, 2012
NORTH BILLERICA, Mass. — Central Catholic has been relying on its balance all season, and that strength was on display in the a 4-3 victory over Chelmsford last night at the Chelmsford Forum.

Ryan Daigle scored a goal and had an assist, and the Raiders had four different goal scorers to push past the Lions for the season sweep of the series.

“They are hard working and they have tremendous character,” Raiders head coach Mike Jankowski said. “We played the other night and we had nine goals with seven different goal scorers. We’ve played all three goalies and it’s been fantastic. We’ve been in some tough spots and it’s been tremendous.”

The Raiders needed the balance, and they needed the early scoring to hold off a pesky Lions bunch to grab this victory. Daigle assisted on Zack Cote’s goal to get things going in the first period, and the senior forward scored on the power play in the second period on a pinpoint shot from the left point for the 2-0 lead at 3:26.

Mike Hovnanian and Alex Lester scored a pair of unassisted goals to sandwich in between a tally by Matt Winter to take a 4-1 lead after the second period.

The Raiders nearly squandered the three-goal lead in the third period, but got enough saves from Kyle Williams — including some nice glove work on David DeDonato on the doorstep — to move their record to 11-2-4.

Williams made the big glove save in the third period, but it was the Lions' netminder who made two of the better saves around.

Lloyd Hayes had a beat on the top right corner when he was flying in on a break, but Derek Noble snared the puck from going into the net with a lightning quick reflex keep the score a 1-0.

Christian Smith nearly picked the same corner with 14.7 seconds left in the period, but Noble again got the glove up and in position to snatch it out of the air. The Raiders outshot the Lions 13-5 in the period and could have had a stranglehold on the game.

“He held them in early and then in the second period we got a little bit of space there,” Jankowski said.

Jankowski wasn’t quite sure if his team would be in the Super Eight conversation when the season began, but the Raiders are a few wins away from making a clear case for being part of the top eight teams in the playoffs.

The Raiders have two league games against Andover and Acton-Boxborough, but the biggest game of the year might come Monday against Catholic Memorial. Jankowski has preached staying focused on each game to his team, but he obviously knew the question was coming and the challenge that lies ahead.

“I’m over there just saying one game at a time, but you look at it and you circle it,” Jankowski said. “That for us is the ultimate goal to some day be in the same breath and the same situation going down the stretch playing a team like that and a coach like that. They have everyone’s admiration around here, so for us I’d be lying if I said we aren’t looking forward to it. It’s really going to be a contest to see where we really stack up.”