FALMOUTH, Mass. -- The most highly anticipated matchup in Monday’s second round of the Cape Cod Classic came in the form of two Super Eight “Watch List” teams facing off.
Both No. 5 BC High and No. 22 Austin Prep entered the game with a sense of urgency, matching each other stride for stride in an up-and-down first period at Falmouth Ice Arena. Yet, the Cougars were unable to match their intensity with their result on the scoreboard as Eagles netminder Peter Cronin turned aside 17 shots for his second straight shutout of the tournament and, coupled with a balanced scoring attack, BC High took an important 4-0 win.
Following a 5-0 blanking of Super Eight lister Hingham on Saturday, the Eagles are sitting pretty with a game to go.
“Peter [Cronin] is playing very well and he’s a good goalie,” BC High head coach John Flaherty said. “I was allow him to see the shots, he’s going to make the saves. The last couple of games he’s made it look easy for him, not that it’s been easy for him, but he’s made it look that way.”
The Eagles (12-4-3) finally broke the first-period stalemate on Brendan O’Malley’s goal with 3:36 to play on a crossing pass from Sean Talbot with Mike Cashman picking up a second assist.
BC High struck again with 3:28 remaining in the second with Chris LaLiberte banging one home from the top of the crease.
The Eagles preserved their second straight shutout effort with some key penalty kills in the third period.
Cronin and Co. kept the Cougars (10-6-3) off the board despite three power play chances. BC High also got one of its own a man down, with Matt Sullivan’s short-hander off a 2-on-1 break with an assist from Mike Marsters. That marker rounded out scoring with five minutes to play.
“Our PK’s been pretty good all year, it’s too bad that we have to use them so much though,” Flaherty said. “We need to stay out of the box a little bit better than we are.”
Andrew White scored earlier in the third off some pretty transition play with an assist by LaLiberte, who capped off a two-point game.
HOME COOKIN’ FOR FALMOUTH
Falmouth head coach Buddy Ferreira described the Clippers second-round matchup with Waltham as a “couple of .500 teams going at it.” But, with stakes so high, both squads brought their top game.
Of course, Falmouth is always a tough out as tournament hosts, but the Hawks had desperation on their side. Waltham entered the game two points shy of a state tournament berth with two games to play.
While the Hawks got half of what they needed, picking up a point for working to a 2-2 tie with the Clippers in regulation, Falmouth got the best of them in a shootout victory.
“Last game [a 2-0 win over Arlington Catholic] really boosted our confidence and this game just set it off,” Clippers junior defenseman Travis Howe said. “It meant so much to our team and Coach [Ferreira] even.”
The teams were deadlocked, 1-1, after the second intermission, but Waltham (7-7-6) showed grit, working for the go-ahead tally a little more than a minute into the third on Chris Maguire’s put back of a rebound on D.J. Feeney’s shot.
Although Falmouth (9-9-3) continued putting shots on Hawks goalie Patrick Jordan, they were repeatedly rebuffed.
Finally, with the benefit of a power-play advantage, Howe netted the equalizer with an unassisted goal, beating Jordan stick side with a slapper.
In desperate need of points, Waltham head coach John Maguire pulled Jordan inside of 30 seconds remaining for an extra-attacker. Already on a power-play after a Falmouth holding penalty with 55 seconds remaining, the 6-on-4 advantage still wasn’t enough to help one past Clipper netminder Brandon Moore.
The teams played to a scoreless overtime session before moving to the shootout, which Falmouth won, 2-0. Howe scored the Clippers first shootout goal before Matt Kinchla iced the victory, beating Jordan on a backhander.
“This is a big positive for us,” Ferreira said of his young squad. “We have seven sophomores who see regular ice time, so it’s been tough. But this is big to prove them they can come back in a game like that.”
The Clippers will face BC High for the tournament championship Thursday in Falmouth. The Hawks need one elusive point in their next tournament game against Austin Prep to qualify.
THIRD TIME A CHARM FOR ARCHIES
Although Falmouth’s comeback put an emphatic stamp on an exciting day of hockey, it wasn't the only game Monday to go an extra session. No. 19 Archbishop Williams’ finally got the monkey off its back with a shootout win over 17th-ranked Arlington Catholic.
Although the shootout victory counts only for the tournament (the game is recorded as a 3-3 tie toward MIAA records), Bishops head coach Derackk Curtis took the game for what it was as a vast improvement over their previous two meetings against their Catholic Central rivals. The Cougars won each of those earlier league contests.
“We haven’t been playing real well lately, so it was good to battle back and get that monkey off our backs,” Curtis said. “We haven’t been able to beat AC all year and going back to the state championship and losing to them at the Garden … It’s good for team chemistry and the morale of the guys, they deserve it.”
The Bishops (9-5-5) were down 3-1 entering the third period, but tied the game in regulation with a pair of goal inside the final four minutes.
Stephen Boardman drew the Bishops within one, going to the backhand on a deke in close against AC netminder John Busa with 3:27 remaining.
Dan Gibbons knotted the game at 3-3 less than a minute later, knocking one home from the doorstep.
After playing to a scoreless 5-minute overtime period, the teams went to the shootout. The Bishops took the best-of-five, 2-0, with successful tries by Michael Sorrenti and Mike Boyle.
Bishops sophomore netminder Brian Nazzaro made all four saves in the shootout, capping off a stellar game that included several saves during AC’s power play opportunity that spanned the final minute of the third and the first minute of the overtime.
The win unofficially snapped a three-game losing streak for the Bishops against the Cougars (8-5-7) which spanned back to last year’s Division 1 state title game.
“They came back and played hard,” Arlington Catholic head coach Dan Shine said. “We had a couple of chances to get the game-winner, but we didn’t get the bounces.”
HINGHAM AVENGES DUXBURY DRAW
When South Shore rivals No. 2 Hingham and Duxbury met earlier this season, the teams skated to a 2-2 tie at the Ed Taylor Tournament at Pilgrim. The Harbormen escaped with a win via a shootout in that holiday contest.
On Monday, with Hingham smarting over a 5-0 blanking at the hands of fifth-ranked BC High during Saturday’s opening round of the Cape Cod Classic, they were looking to rebound in their second-day matchup against the Dragons.
Hingham returned with a convincing 6-0 shutout over Duxbury and regained some of the momentum they’d built earlier in the month.
“We were playing pretty good hockey coming in, we’d won our last five games,” Harbormen head coach Tony Messina said after Monday’s win. “[Against BC High], it was our own fault. They’re a good team and we didn’t do the things we needed to do to win.
“We wanted to restore some of that confidence we’d been playing with.”
Hingham (12-5-4) got out to a 1-0 first-period lead, but exploded in the second period for three goals, sparked by defenseman Steven Bellew’s slap shot from the point off a failed Dragons clearing attempt.
“We have a good amount of guys who have been there,” Messina said when asked about the tenor of the room leading up to Super Eight selection Saturday. “We know what we have to do to get there.”
The Dragons (7-7-7) still need two points to qualify for the state tournament and have a crack against Arlington Catholic next.