Boston High School: Mike Hovnanian

Super 8 recap: Malden Catholic 4, Central Cath. 0

March, 15, 2012

NORTH ANDOVER – Local hockey fans who hadn't heard of Malden Catholic forward Ara Nazarian before this year's Super 8 tournament have probably heard of him now.

Nazarian, a freshman, collected a goal – his fifth in four Super 8 games – to help the top-seeded Lancers defeat seventh-seeded Central Catholic 4-0 Wednesday in the Super 8 semifinals.

“He tends to figure out the game at each level as he moves up,” Malden Catholic head coach John McLean said. “He's got a pretty good hockey IQ and when he gets a chance he's gonna put it in the net.

“I know what he can do because I've coached him since he was a Mite. He scored in some big games [during the regular season] and he's scored some big ones here. He's a big-time player.”

Malden Catholic, last year's Super 8 champion, also received goals from sophomore defenseman Nick Rolli, senior forward Brendan Collier and junior forward Ryan Fitzgerald.

The victory earned the Lancers a spot in the Super 8 championship game, where they will face BC High on Sunday (6 p.m.) at TD Banknorth Garden. BC High moved on with a 3-2 triumph over St. John's Prep in Wednesday's other semifinal.

“I've had them [BC High] marked from Day 1 as the team that would be there,” McLean said. “Just nonstop. Great coach, great kids and it's gonna be a great game.”

Central Catholic made the program's deepest run in the Super 8 tournament.

“The kids fought all the way to the end,” Central Catholic head coach Mike Jankowski said. “We wanted to be a little more conservative in our own zone. Give up a little bit. Be patient. The kids stayed with it. They did a great job.”

Although Malden Catholic collected both goals scored in the second period, the best chances in the period belonged to the Raiders.

Malden Catholic goaltender Connor Maloney stopped Central Catholic's Corey Webber on a penalty shot with 4:15 left in the period, and then Maloney stopped Michael Hovnanian's breakaway attempt with 3:36 remaining in the period.

“You gotta put those away when you're in trouble,” Jankowksi said. “When you don't finish them the sticks start to get a little heavier.”

“[Maloney] made a few more big saves besides those two,” McLean added. “He kept us in it. This is two games in a row where our offense gets going and we forget we have to play defense. The kids get excited when they score the goals and hear the fans, but defense wins hockey games.

“Maloney had a great game tonight. He was our player of the game.”

Sunday's game will be the fourth time Malden Catholic and BC High have faced each other this season. Malden Catholic posted a 7-4 victory during the regular season, and a 3-1 victory earlier in the Super 8 tournament. The teams also skated to a 2-2 tie during the regular season.

“I'm looking forward to it,” McLean said. “We always have good games with them. It's gonna come down to who going to eat the puck, block a shot. Who's gonna want to get in front and get dirty. I think it's gonna come down to heart. I think it's gonna be a great game for the fans.”

Super 8 recap: Central 6, St. Mary's 5 (SO)

March, 5, 2012

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- Steven Merrick has been the picture of hard work and dedication for Central Catholic, putting in extra time throughout the offseason to grow from a bit player a year ago to a regular shift on the Raiders third line as a senior.

When Sunday's Super 8 day one battle with St. Mary's passed through three full periods and a 12-minute overtime without a winner being decided, Merrick was shooter number four on Central coach Mike Jankowski's list for the shootout session. Six players went before Merrick hopped over the boards for his turn with none being able to penetrate two of the state's top goalies, as Central's Kyle Williams and the Spartans' Bailey MacBurnie turned aside shot after shot.

Merrick skated to center ice, surveyed the scene, then began to skate. Rather than try something fancy, the hard-working senior kept it simple, walking straight in on MacBurnie and blazing a wrist shot past his stick hand.

Three more shooters came and went, all were denied, and that left Merrick as the final hero in a game filled with them as the seventh-seeded Raiders ended up with a 6-5 victory over No. 2 St. Mary's on day one of the Super 8 round robin.

"Merrick is a senior, he's got great hands and he's a great kid," praised Jankowski. "Last year he really made a transformation and committed himself to hockey. Last year he was here but didn't play a whole lot and he's earned his spot but he's done that all through hard work and dedication in the offseason. For him to get that kind of goal at the end its just awesome."

Central Catholic (13-3-5) scored three straight goals from the eight minute mark of the second period through 5:27 of the third to take what seemed at the time like a commanding 5-3 lead. St. Mary's (18-1-3) showed it had tremendous resolve despite making its first appearance in the Super 8 field as a seeded team.

Brendan Magaery converted a terrific feed from behind the net by Jarrod Fitzpatrick for a one-timer at 8:09, and a huge save by MacBurnie jumpstarted a two-on-one break with Connor Parent and Thomas Braswell. Parent carried the puck in and held for a shot, which Central goalie Kyle Williams stopped, but the rebound came quickly to Braswell, who snapped it home before Williams had a chance to react, knotting the game at 5-5 with 2:43 left in regulation.

"A lot of the leaders were speaking up on the bench and we talked about it before the game," Spartans head coach Mark Lee said. "There's been other teams in these tournaments that came back from more than two goals and we wanted to be one of those teams to make a comeback. Even during that third period we hit the post a couple of times. We just didn't seem to get that many bounces tonight. That's not any excuse. We played a very good team and hats off to them too."

Central opened the scoring at 1:26 of the first, catching the Spartans in a line change that enabled a two-on-none opportunity, which Michael Hovanian buried on the Raiders second shot of the game

Tim Aylward evened things up for St. Mary's late in the frame, utilizing a flashy spin move to get around a CC defenseman and tick a high shot behind Williams.

Mike Kelleher put Central back in front just 34 seconds into the middle frame with an assist from Zachary Cote but St. Mary's rallied with back-to-back goals by Magaery and Bobby Mullins, the latter coming off a rebound of a shot by Cam Grenham at 4:57.

Just over three minutes later, Ryan Daigle took a beautiful pass from Cote (three assists) and banged home a one timer to tie things at 3-3.

"You have to give them a lot of credit," Jankowski said of St. Mary's. "They were good, they gave us a lot of pressure in our own zone and Kyle held us in there. We had a bend but don't break sort of attitude and then we were able to pop back in transition because they were being so aggressive and get a couple the other way so it worked out well for us."

In the overtime, Kyle Williams turned in easily his best period of the day. The Spartans outshot the Raiders, 42-23 in the game and 10-2 in the 12-minute overtime period.

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.”