NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- The strangest thing about Central Catholic's 5-4 triumph over Springfield Cathedral in Sunday night's Super 8 tournament? The fact that Central Catholic needed Springfield Cathedral's help to pull out the victory.
Since Springfield Cathedral needed to win the contest by at least two goals to have any chance of advancing, the Panthers pulled goaltender John Liquori late in the contest even though they were leading by a goal.
Central Catholic's Mikel Kelleher took advantage by scoring into an empty net with 12.3 seconds left, then the Raiders received the game-winning goal from Jake Donahue with 7:50 left in overtime.
With St. Mary's loss to St. John's Prep, the Raiders advanced to the Super 8's crossover round.
“The format is the format, but needing to win by two is definitely a different way to approach the game,” Springfield Cathedral head coach Brian Foley said. “Winning by one wouldn't have done much for us. We weren't here to just win a game. We were here to advance to Wednesday. It's about competing at the highest level and that's what we were trying to teach the kids.”
Central Catholic, which trailed 3-0 after one period, raised its tournament record to 2-1 and put itself in good position to move on to Wednesday's crossover round. Ryan Daigle, Christian Thompson and Nick Gorski also scored for the Raiders, who replaced goaltender Kyle Williams with Andrew Robbins at the start of the second period.
“Spotting them three goals early wasn't what we planned at all, but [we showed] a lot of character,” Central Catholic head coach Mike Jankowski said. “Robbins sealed the deal for us.
“You have to think a little outside the box, make sure your strategy is correct and if you want to advance in this tournament you have to make sure you do the right things.”
Goals by D.J. Petruzzelli, Jordan Kozub and Frank Crinella handed Cathedral a 3-0 lead after one period. Central Catholic tied it on Gorski's goal 3:16 into the third, but Springfield Cathedral regained the lead when Crinella scored a short-handed goal at 7:38 of the third.
Cathedral, which finished 0-3 in pool play, had to win by more than one goal and then needed things to break right in Sunday's late game between St. John's Prep and St. Mary's to extend its season.
“Maybe some people would have felt better about finishing 1-2 instead of 0-3, but we weren't here for any moral victories,” Foley said. “We wanted to play Wednesday.”
Jankowski said he made the decision to pull Williams with about two minutes left in the opening period, when Cathedral scored on three of its first seven shots.
“It was very hard,” Jankowski said. “Last year he was the one who got us here. He kept us in every game and he's been our goalie all year.
“Robbins is a great goalie, a great kid. He works tremendously hard in practice. He comes to practice and prepares himself like he's playing every day. It was nice for him to get that time. He shut the door for us and came up big.”
Malden Catholic (3-0) and B.C. High (2-1) advanced from Pool 1 and will return to action Wednesday night, when the two crossover games are held at Merrimack College.
Malden Catholic will play Central Catholic in one crossover game, and B.C. High will play St. John's Prep in the other crossover contest.