SALEM, N.H. -- Saturday's brutal draw against St. Mary's left Austin Prep battered and short -anded going into their tilt at Central Catholic last night. Top-scoring forwards Bobo Carpenter and Cam Russo were out, as was Eric MacAdams.
No problem. The No. 4 Cougars were held to only nine shots but converted when they had to and escaped with a tight 3-2 win over the No. 6 Raiders.
With the game tied at two five minutes into the third period, a Central turnover sprung Jake McKenelley and Ryan McDonough on a shorthanded two-on-one. McKenelley fed McDonough who buried it over a sprawling Colin Soucy.
“Guys stepped up tonight who don't usually play,” Austin Prep coach Louis Finocchiaro said. “I'm so proud of our guys tonight. They're a very good team. [It was] a tough road game for us.
“What I liked most importantly was at the end of game was our poise with the puck. We didn't panic. We were able to hold on to the lead and make good choices with the puck.”
The Raiders set the tone early as the Lloyd Hayes knocked down a rebound and chipped it over Austin goalie Elijah Harris for the goal. Three minutes later, Soucy left a bad rebound loose atop the crease and Louis Finocchiaro Jr. lifted it over him to tie the game going into the first intermission.
The Raiders set the tone and tempo for the bulk of the game, outshooting AP 23-9 overall and 11-2 in the second period alone, but were unable to finish many of the chances they had.
On Austin's first shot on goal of the second period, with just over five minutes left, Scott Duarte wristed home a shot in the shot to put the Cougars up 2-1. It took a while for AP to find its bearings on the Olympic-sized sheet at the Icenter, but once they did they worked it to their advantage.
“It's an Olympic-sized rink so it's hard to get things going,” McDonough said. “We're not used it, but when they made a mistake we capitalized.”
The Cougar defense was able to keep Central to the outside in the offensive zone and off-balance. When the Raiders did attack successfully Harris stood tall in goal, turning aside 20 shots.
“I thought our defensemen did a nice job, defending the middle, forcing them to the outside, and not giving up quality shots,” Finocchiaro said. “ I thought [Harris] was on his game tonight. I thought he played a sharp game form sharp to finish. He did what we need him to do and what he usually does.”
Corey Webber had Central's second goal, sliding a backhander home early in the third.
MIX AND MATCH: After getting thumped 8-2 by Malden Catholic on Jan. 20, Central coach Mike Jankowski changed up his offensive lines in an attempt to mix things up. The most noticeable change was the second line of Zach Cote, Webber, and Kevin Regan.
Webber has played much of the season on the top line with Hayes and Alex Lester while Regan got his ice time on the “white” line alongside Richie Greenberg and Eric Robbins.
Despite the loss, Jankowski said he was pleased with the reworked lines.
“We're just trying to spark a few things,” Jankowski said. “It's just balance; we have some great balance up there. Corey got one today, Lloyd got one today so each line got one today. We played really, really well we just couldn't find the back of the net.”
In Central's two games before last night's game they scored eight and four goals respectively.
“They're coming it's just at different times we get snake-bit there and can't make the conversions,” Jankowski said. “We've been able to find the back of the net for the most part. Tonight just wasn't our night.”