ARLINGTON, Mass. -- For a while, it looked as though No. 10 Archbishop Williams would have the last laugh over No. 4 Arlington Catholic, holding the Cougars scoreless over two-plus periods. Before Saturday night's game at Veterans Memorial Skating Rink, Arlington Catholic hoisted to the rafters a banner commemorating last year's Division 1 state title win, which also came over the Bishops.
So was a little revenge in the cards? Not so.
The Cougars had to battle back from two one-goal deficits and didn't hold the lead until the final two minutes of play, with Dan Graham's marker making the difference in a 3-2 win over their Catholic Central rival.
The Bishops (0-1-0, 0-1-0) took an early lead on Ryan Dunn's power-play goal assisted by Mike Thiesing in the first period. Sophomore Brian Nazzaro made Dunn's goal stand up, keeping the Cougars (1-0-0, 1-0-0) off the board through the first 30 minutes of play.
Arlington Catholic finally got on the board 2:38 into the third on Christopher Sadler's strike set up by Brendon O'Connell and William Cooke. The Bishops quickly regained the lead on Mike Sorenti's tally with their second goal of the evening on the power play.
However, some undisciplined play would have the Bishops shorthanded less than a minute later and the Cougars broke through on the man-advantage. Jon Byrne redirected Brian McCoff's blast from the point to tie the score, 2-2. Cooke also added his second assist on the play.
Arlington Catholic seized the momentum, with Graham tallying the game-winner on a pretty set up from Shaun Teeven. Graham buried the one-timer top shelf on the play that was set in motion by a good outlet pass by defenseman Matthew Dee.
Here's a couple of passing thoughts from the rematch between old rivals:
It's no secret that the team Arlington Catholic returns this season is much different from last year's squad. But Cougars head coach Dan Shine was encouraged by his young team's resiliency exhibited during their season opener. Although they might not have played their best game, it's very early in the season and the Cougars showed mettle when it mattered most. "Replacing 17 players is an enormous task," Shine said. "In a game like this, coming back to from a goal down, coming back and scoring late goals in the game to win is a huge confidence booster. And that's what we were hoping to get out of tonight."
The area where Arlington Catholic's roster has seen the greatest turnover is on the blue line. All six of the Cougars' D-men graduated last year. That has provided an opportunity for Cooke and McGoff, two transfer students, to seize the job comprising the Cougars' top pairing. Through the first game, both showed good discipline on the power play, maintaining space and creating shooting lanes. That paid off handsomely with Byrne's power-play goal that tied the game, 2-2. "I think our defense played well," Shine said. "They played a lot in the end, they were real steady. And again, they're learning every day."
Archies finds itself in much the same situation as Arlington Catholic this season. Bishops head coach Derackk Curtis estimated that 90 percent of his roster was playing in their first varsity game Saturday. "Overall, I'm pretty happy with the way we played," Curtis said. "We didn't finish, we have to finish. I thought overall our compete level was there."