Boston High School: Richie Greenberg

Super 8 tournament primer and picks

March, 2, 2014
Mar 2
2:06
AM ET
There are less than 24 hours remaining before the puck drops on the Super 8 tournament Sunday at TD Garden.

So we’re taking this opportunity to break down the final eight. We’re taking a look at the head-to-head breakdowns for each series first-round, best-of-three series, along with predictions:

Series: No. 1 BC High (14-2-4) vs. No. 8 Xaverian (12-3-6)

Players to watch: BC High – F Steve DeForge, F Patrick Kramer, F Jake Lemanski, D Billy Roche, D Ryan Shea, D Sam Topham, D Trevor Davis, G Brandon Payzant; Xaverian – F Jon Beniers, F Andrew Durkin, F Antonio Marini, F Connor McCarthy, F Tim Sweeney, D Ricky Smith, G Aidan Murphy.

Previous meetings: 2-2 tie, Jan. 4; BC High, 5-1, Jan. 22.

The skinny: The top-seed Eagles take on their Catholic Conference rival Hawks, who endured a double-overtime classic against Archbishop Williams to slide in as the No. 8 seed. Xaverian will have to take a page from the playbook of Duxbury – which handed BC High a loss in its season finale at the Buddy Ferreira Classic – playing a tight-checking game through the neutral zone to stick with the Eagles’ slick transition game. Murphy has shown flashes of brilliance in his freshman campaign and the Hawks will have to rely on him and a big series from All-State hopeful Marini if they want to keep up with BC High.

X-factor: Payzant. The Eagles’ sophomore netminder has performed admirably in his first season taking the reigns from All-Stater Peter Cronin. But until a goaltender sees his first rubber in the playoffs, the book is still out.

Prediction: BC High in two.

Series: No. 2 Malden Catholic (16-4-0) vs. No. 7 Catholic Memorial (10-7-4)

Players to watch: MC – F Matt Filipe, F Ara Nazarian, F Tyler Sifferlen, F Jake Witkowski, D John McLean, D Nick Rolli, G Alex Reissis; CM – F Aaron Clancy, F Anthony Panaggio, F Mike Stathopoulos, D Frank Cosolito, D Tim Weinstein, G Brandon Collett.

Previous meetings: CM, 3-2, Jan. 25; MC, 11-0, Feb. 14.

The skinny: Once again the Lancers went on a February run, going 7-1-0 in February, despite a loss to Cathedral in the teams’ season finale at the Panthers vacation week tournament. Meanwhile, on the flip side, the Knights back their way into the tournament, having been blanked in the final month of the season, as CM didn’t win a game until Monday’s play-in game victory over Braintree in a one-goal game. However, as one-sided the matchup between Catholic Conference rivals might seem, CM does have the blueprint on how to take down MC, evidenced in the Knights’ 3-2 win in the teams’ first meeting at Walter Brown. In that game, CM was able to harass the Lancers breakout with an aggressive forecheck. In order to skate with MC, the Knights will have to repeat that performance or risk having their first-round series resemble more of the teams’ second meeting.

X-factor: Filipe. The Northeastern commit has provided a strong presence throughout the season on the Lancers’ second unit. While teams have a difficult enough time contending with MC’s vaunted top line, with Filipe and the second unit rolling, the Lancers’ attack is that much more difficult to match up with, defensively.

Prediction: MC in two.

Series: No. 3 Springfield Cathedral (15-2-5) vs. No. 6 Duxbury (16-2-3)

Players to watch: Cathedral – F Peter Crinella, F Johnny Leonard, F D.J. Petruzzelli, F Riley Prattson, D Dan Petrick, G John Liquori, G Keith Petruzzelli; Duxbury – F Nick Marrocco, F Matt Murphy, F Shayne O’Brien, F Trevor O’Brien, F Matt Saia, D Shawn Errasti, D Tyler Powers, G Tucker Kelly.

Previous meetings: N/A.

The skinny: In perhaps the most intriguing matchup of the first round, the high-flying Panthers offensive juggernaut squares off against a sound, defensive-minded squad from Duxbury. Cathedral enters the tournament ranked among the statewide leaders in just about every statistical category and host two of the top scorers in the state in Crinella (28-26-54) and D.J. Petruzzelli (21-32-53). Meanwhile, the Dragons played their best hockey down the stretch, beating BC High in the Buddy Ferreira Classic final to punch their Super 8 ticket. John Blake’s group excels with countering the team’s speed through the neutral zone, so the Panthers could be in for some tough sledding.

X-factor: Crinella. A contender for the Mr. Hockey award this season, the Holy Cross commit is capable of taking games over – something to be said on a roster full of Division 1 commits. This could be his coming out party on a statewide scope.

Prediction: Cathedral in three.

Series: No. 4 Austin Prep (13-4-4) vs. No. 5 Central Catholic (16-3-3)

Players to watch: AP – F Bobo Carpenter, F Eric MacAdams, F Jake McKennelley, D Andrew Cross, D J.J. Layton, G Elijah Harris; Central – F Zach Cote, F Richie Greenberg, F Lloyd Hayes, F Alex Lester, F Eric Robbins, F Corey Webber, D Conrad Jepson, D Cam Smith, G Colin Soucy.

Previous meetings: Central, 4-1, Jan. 1; AP, 3-2, Feb. 3.

The skinny: In a rarity with non-league opponents, the teams faced off twice during the regular season and, somewhat predictably, split the series. The teams are near carbon copies of each with a mix of top-flight offensive skill, depth and quality goaltending. AP, a Super 8 finalist last year, is a bit of an unknown commodity this season, as the Cougars lost multitudes of man games to injury through the year. In fact, AP didn’t even practice with its full fold of players until February, so we likely haven’t seen the Cougars’ attack at its fullest potential. Meanwhile, the Raiders can consistently roll three lines, with little drop off from the first to the third. So this one will be about as close as you can find.

X-factor: The goaltending. Both Harris and Soucy made names for themselves at last year’s Super 8. Regarded as two of the top goaltenders in the state, both offenses will be hard-pressed to find room to shoot.

Prediction: AP in three.

Recap: No. 7 Central Catholic 4, No. 3 CM 3

February, 18, 2014
Feb 18
1:17
AM ET
BOSTON – Central Catholic rallied from three one-goal deficits to defeat Catholic Memorial, 4-3, on the heels of Lloyd Hayes' breakaway goal with 1:58 left in Monday’s duel of Super 8 hopefuls at Walter Brown Arena.

“It's huge for us moving forward,” Central coach Mike Jankowski said. “That's the type of game we've been looking for. The tight ones when we haven't been able to pull away and separate ourselves, and today we did.”

Hayes led the way for the Raiders on the ice and on the boards. The senior first-liner set the tone physically from the start and played like a bulldozer for the full 45 minutes. To go with his goal, he had an assist on Central's third goal earlier in the third period.

“That's the way we have to play – going to corners, getting pucks, and getting traffic to the net,” Hayes said. “That's the way we're going to win these teams, especially against good teams like CM.”

The Knights were led by senior captain Aaron Clancy who scored a goal and added a pair of assists. Linemate Mike Stathopoulos had CM's first goal and had the primary assist on Clancy's.

CM coach Bill Hanson had less to say about his team's offense and more about his team's lack of consistency on the back end.

“We had an assist on every one of their goals except for the power play,” Hanson said. “We had two blatant turnovers which they, as a good team, capitalized on. It's just the lack of mental toughness and mental athleticism to make the mistakes they make contrary to the way that they're coached.”

The Raiders found numerous ways to deflate the Knights.

Hayes' goal popped the balloon, and Colin Soucy made several spectacular saves to keep CM from pulling away. Christian Thompson's fluke goal, which was blockered away by CM goalie Brandon Collett only to bounce over him and in, with 91 seconds left in the second period was another guy punch for the Knights.

Central's recent rejiggering of its lines seems to have paid off. Breaking up the original top line of Hayes-Alex Lester-Corey Webber has allowed for other players to step up for the Raiders and jell in different ways.

“I think we've done a lot of different changes and everyone puts certain guys together,” Jankowski said. “It helps to get everyone in the game, and we've seen it game in game out. Everyone's finishing, getting some goals.”

Jankowski was pleased with his team's performance, but Hanson, who gave credit to Central for its performance, was anything but.

I take no positives out of this at all,” Hanson said. “We are killing ourselves.”

ROBBINS RISES: Sometimes it's good to have a Batman and sometimes it's good to have a Robin[ns].

Central's Eric Robbins, who was slotted onto the first line alongside Hayes and Zach Cote, stepped up in a big way. Robbins assisted on Central's first and third goals and was omnipresent throughout the game.

“Whenever coach switches up the lines we try to do something new,” Robbins said. “We usually jell pretty early and we were doing good out there today. I try to help the team out as much as I can. If I get moved up I get moved up.”

Robbins first assist came when his initial shot was cleaned up by Richie Greenberg, who has played alongside Robbins for most of the season.

“We always seem to find each other whenever we're on the ice,” Robbins said.

Jankowski said Robbins' best ability was being able to play with poise anywhere on the sheet.

“He gets his points here and there, but honestly he's a great two-way player,” Jankowski said. “He's a defensive center. He's really made each line move whenever we've moved him around. We talk about mixing the lines to find the best recipe to move forward and he allows us to do that.”

Recap: No. 4 Austin Prep 3, No. 6 Central Catholic 2

February, 4, 2014
Feb 4
1:01
AM ET
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.”

Recap: No. 5 Central 5, No. 8 Cathedral 3

January, 16, 2014
Jan 16
3:25
AM ET


LAWRENCE, Mass. – Central Catholic senior forward Lloyd Hayes emerged from the room, hobbled but no worse for the wear. With a large ice pack strapped around his right shoulder, the Raiders’ veteran has been in these kinds of spots before.

No. 5 Central played a nearly flawless game through a period-and-a-half, only to watch a three-goal lead evaporate midway through the third period against No. 8 Springfield Cathedral.

That’s when Mr. Reliable came through again.

Not even a bad wing could prevent Hayes from netting the game-winning goal with less than two minutes to play, before adding a second with an empty-netter, while leading the Raiders to 5-3 win in a duel of Super 8 hopefuls at Valley Forum.

“How he carries himself is a true testament to how we came back and it’s fitting that he got that goal,” Central head coach Mike Jankowski said of Hayes. “We could have created a little distance early on, but we couldn’t finish. But that’s a great team we let come back. They made some plays, capitalized on the power play and got us on our heels a little bit.”

[+] EnlargeCathedral Hockey
Scott Barboza/ESPNBoston.comCathedral erased a 3-goal deficit behind the first career hat trick from freshman winger Riley Prattson before Central Catholic pulled away for a 5-3 win.
In a matchup of two of the state’s best top lines, Cathedral freshman Riley Prattson shone brightest.

Playing alongside the state’s top two scorers entering action – in Division 1 commits Peter Crinella and D.J. Petruzzelli – Prattson almost single-handedly pulled the Panthers out of a 3-0 hole, scoring three straight goals for his first career hat trick.

Cathedral (8-2-1) controlled early play, however, Central (8-1-1) took a 2-0 lead to the room at the first intermission. Eric Robbins buried Richie Greenberg’s feed for Central’s first goal at 5:26, before Alex Lester was the beneficiary of some precision passing from David Sheehan and Corey Webber with 2:05 remaining.

The Raiders extended the lead to three in the second period, when Christian Thompson snuck down the wing and put one short-side with assists from Cam Smith and Zack Cote at 2:29.

It was at that time Panthers head coach Brian Foley made a goaltending change, lifting starter John Liquori for freshman Keith Petruzzelli.

“You’re just trying to change the momentum,” Foley said. “It’s not that John was to blame for any of the goals, but I think Keith came in and did a good job.”

The move seemed to lift Cathedral, as the Panthers struck for their first of two power-play goals on the evening with 8:27 remaining in the second.

The onslaught from Prattson continued into the third period. He scored his second at 5:46 with an assist from Crinella, before striking again on the man-advantage with 7:23 to play. Crinella picked up his second point of the game with the assist.

“We had Zack [Prattson] there originally,” Foley said of his top line, “but we then put Riley there because we wanted Zack’s size on the second line. The three of those guys, Peter, D.J. and Riley, every night someone else is scoring the goals. And then, Johnny Leonard, Cam Peritz and Zack are scoring goals. Then, our third line recently started scoring goals.”

But even when it appeared Cathedral had momentum squarely on its side, Central came with the counterpunch – that being Hayes.

“We’re the type of team that we just keep at it and keep pushing,” Hayes added.

Hayes did just that, intercepting a Panthers’ clearing attempt out of their own end and pushing it past Keith Petruzzelli with 1:54 to play. He then added the empty-netter with 38 seconds remaining.

Cracking the code: Both teams can play an aggressive style at times, and with a Cathedral forward frequently hanging high on the Raiders’ blue line, pressure was constantly being applied on Central’s defensive corps.

Of course, with a returning All-State goaltender in Colin Soucy (30 saves) returning, that pressure has been somewhat alleviated this season, but Central did well to shut out Cathedral’s second and third lines in a deep and talented forward crop.

“We lost [Nick] Gorski and [Derek] Vaillancourt from last year, but we had a lot of kids that worked hard in the offseason and we’re working well together,” Soucy said of Central blue-liners. “Our shots on goal against is actually down from last year, surprisingly. I thought I was going to see more shots, but everyone’s doing their job.”

Yet, even if the opposition is able to circumnavigate the Raiders’ defense, there’s also the matter of beating the netminder.

“Colin’s a good goalie and I thought he played great,” Foley said. “We weren’t scoring on the first shot, so we needed to create second and third chances, but he did a good job all game of controlling the puck and not giving us those chances. But the kids kept working hard and they were rewarded with a couple power play goals.”

The road ahead: While neither coach was looking too far down the road, it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see the two teams meet at some point in the Super 8 tournament.

In a moment of candor, following his team’s dramatic win, Jankowski assessed where his group is at, both in the season and in the greater picture of building Central’s program to that of a statewide power.

“We’ve enjoyed playing that darkhorse, it’s been our baby,” he said. “But now I think it’s finally time where we’ve had these guys like Lloyd [Hayes], [Zack] Cote, [Alex] Lester, [Conrad Jepson] and Colin [Soucy], and now it’s time that they’re main guys. They’ve proven that they deserve the attention and the limelight and the accolades that comes with being a top team.”

Recap: No. 3 Central Catholic 4, No. 17 Waltham 1

January, 7, 2014
Jan 7
12:41
AM ET
SALEM, N.H. – In a battle of the top two teams in the MVC/DCL 1, Central Catholic showed that it liked its perch at the top.

The Raiders scored two goals in the first period and controlled tempo for most of the game en route to a 4-1 win Monday over Waltham at the Icenter.

Richie Greenberg led the Raiders with a goal and an assist.

“It was a big game,” Greenberg said. “[It] meant a lot to win and beat an undefeated team like that. Hopefully, we can keep it going.”

Central's offense swirled for long stretches of the game and dominated possession.

The Raiders (6-0-1, 3-0-1) made it a busy night for Waltham goalie Shamus Egan, who had to deal with 37 shots. Greenberg got the action going by poking a turnover to initiate a two-on-one before finding linemate Eric Robbins who buried a shorthanded goal midway through the first.

Greenberg gave Central some insurance with an unassisted goal with only five seconds left in the first.

“They were able to convert tonight which was nice to see,” Jankowski said of the line of Greenberg, Robbins and Kevin Regan. “They've been doing everything but finding the back of the net and finish, and they were able to do that tonight — real happy for them. They were able to capitalize tonight.”

Waltham (4-1-2, 2-1-1) broke through early in the second when Ben MacEwen forced home a shot in a scrum in front of Central goalie Colin Soucy. The Hawks were able to get 16 shots on cage, but quality scoring chances were hard to come by.

Central gave Waltham numerous chances to inflict damage, but the Hawks were unable to convert on any of their eight power plays, including a pair of 5-on-3 situations.

“To be honest with you we're down 2-0 after one, but it could have been more, but popped one on the first shift of the second and we made it competitive,” Waltham coach John Maguire said. “They're as good as advertised. They just came at us in waves.

“Our power play is struggling and has been struggling. We've got to find a way to get that fixed and hopefully soon.”

Conrad Jepson ferried home a goal from the point to put Central up 3-1 late in the second. Jepson led a tough defensive effort by Central that curtailed Waltham all over the ice while also adding to the offensive attack.

“They transition so well and take care of business in their own zone,” Jankowski said. “Offensively, it's nice of them to chip in because they do all the dirty work that no one seems to get credit for, but tonight they were able to get the back of the net. They rewarded themselves for a change and got a bit of the limelight.”

Central's Jeff Thompson scored his second career goal with just over five minutes left in the game.

THAT’S A BIG POND: A standard ice hockey rink is 200 by 85 feet. But the main sheet at the Icenter is 200 by 100 feet. That extra 3000 square feet allowed Central's speed to flourish and set the tempo of the game. It's an advantage that Jankowski did not understate.

“It's nice because it takes a while for teams to adjust to that surface,” Jankowski said. “Once they do. it's a little less of an advantage, but at the beginning especially when we know we have that extra space and we have the speed to utilize that space. It's a fun team to watch. I'm excited to see where it's going to go down the road.”

Maguire said he thinks the rematch, in Waltham's smaller rink, will be closer but did not make any excuses.

“I think they're so good it's not going to make a difference in terms of win and loss, but it certainly makes a difference in terms of their ability to skate,” Maguire said. “I think it would have been a more competitive game in terms of shots and flow of the game in a smaller rink like Waltham.

“That being said, the reason they won the game today is that they're a better team than us.”

Maguire and his Hawks will get that second crack against Central on Feb. 12.

Recap: Central Catholic 5, St. John's Prep 3

January, 5, 2014
Jan 5
1:16
AM ET
WILMINGTON, Mass. – For the first forty-three minutes and fifty-three seconds, Central Catholic never led St. John's Prep.

For the final 1:07, they did not trail.

The Raiders surrendered the first two goals, but Alex Lester batted home a puck in the waning moments to propel Central to a 5-3 win. Lester added an empty netter with two seconds left to seal the win.

Lester's linemate, Lloyd Hayes, facilitated much of Central's offense with three assists, including the initial shot that led to Lester's game-winner.

“We're always talking about team depth and chemistry, and usually [goaltender Colin] Soucy's our backbone out,” Raiders head coach Mike Jankowski said. “Today they found a way past him a lot easier than usual. The kids answered the call. They stuck up, they came to bat for them.”

After a quiet opening 10 minutes the Eagles made their move. Mark Etherington tipped home an Ean Mendeszoon shot to put Prep on the board. He followed that up 17 seconds later by burying a pass from Jim Currier in front past Colin Soucy to put the Eagles up 2-0. Prep was only able to put seven more shots on net after Etherington's goals.

St. John's Prep assistant coach Jeff Tache said that he was pleased with Etherington's performance but that the team as a whole has to do better defensively.

“I thought he played a great game,” Tache said of Etherington. “He hustles all the time and that's all you can ask for.

“I thought it was a good overall effort. Defensive breakdowns late in periods is what cost us this effort. Again, they worked hard and probably deserved a point out of this. Hopefully we can just move forward and learn from these mistakes.”

After Prep's goals Central took over. The Raiders outshot the Eagles, 27-10, and were able to outskate and outmuscle the Eagles as the game wore on. Eric Robbins put the Raiders on the board, putting home a pass from Richie Greenberg with 1:15 left in the first period.

The teams traded goals in the early portion of the second period and Prep goalie Zach Laramie kept the Eagles ahead. The freshman turned aside nine of the 10 shots he faced during the second period. St. John's locked down on special teams as well, especially during a 71-second 5-on-3 penalty kill.

Central tied the game at three five minutes into the third when Sean Holly threw a lazy wrist shot at Laramie that the goalie misjudged and skipped over his glove to tie the game. Hayes' pass opened up Holly for his goal.

“He's been fantastic all season long,” Jankowski said of Hayes. “He's been there not only [with] points but with positional play, physicality. He's doing just a great job for us.”

Soucy turned aside seven shots and added the secondary assist on Lester's empty netter.

“He always talks about it,” Lester said with a laugh. “He likes to think he gets assists so for him to finally get one is pretty cool.”

GROWN-UP RIVALRY: Central-Andover may be the traditional rivalry, but the annual game with St. John's Prep has become one of the biggest games on Central's calendar as the team has risen the past six years.

Dating back to the 2007-2008 season, the teams have played 10 times with St. John's holding a slim 5-4-1 advantage.

Lester and Soucy both said that St. John's is easily among their top rivals.

“It's always a big rivalry and we just want to keep it going,” Lester said. “We've had some big wins now and we just want to keep it rolling.”

“St. John's has always been our rivals,” Soucy said. “They got us in Super 8 last year and we wanted to come and show that last year was last year and this is our new team this year. It was a big win for us.”

With the annual regular season game usually played between Christmas and mid-January, it's a good measuring stick for both teams that have Super 8 aspirations each and every season.

“It does set a tone for us moving forward about where we sit and a good barometer for us,” Jankowski said. “We want to compete against the best.”

Recap: No. 4 Central Catholic 5, Westford 1

December, 20, 2013
12/20/13
1:08
AM ET
TYNGSBOROUGH, Mass. – Depth, for lack of a better word, is good.

No. 4 Central Catholic showed that last night as each of its three lines shined as the Raiders downed Westford Academy, 5-1, at Skate 3.

Lloyd Hayes took an Alex Lester feed for a short breakaway and scored 46 seconds in to give the Raiders a lead they would not relinquish. Colin Soucy did his thing in net, turning aside 15 Westford shots, including a cross-net, Tim Thomas-inspired dive to stop Jay Drapeau point blank in the second period.

“[Soucy] hasn't missed a beat since last year,” Central coach Mike Jankowski said. “He's able to make saves that you don't expect him too and the team builds off that. When he closes the door on one end it builds momentum the other way.”

The Raiders' top line of Hayes, Lester, and Alex Webber used that momentum to dominate the first period whenever they were on the ice. The Raiders outshot Westford 15-6 in the first period.

Lester capped off the dominance with a short-handed slapper that beat Kyle Martin glove side.

“We tied Acton-Boxborough [on Monday] and considered that a tough one,” Lester said. “We really wanted to come out early and set a statement.”

The Ghosts fought back in the second. Drapeau scored from an impossible angle a minute in to halve the deficit and Westford played with vigor in the middle stanza that was missing earlier in the game.

Drapeau, along with linemates Cam MacDonald and Ryan Hesseltine, provided the motor for the Grey Ghosts.

“Jay is an unbelievable athlete and an unbelievable competitor,” Westford coach Bob Carpenter said. “You can't find a guy that works harder or a nicer guy than him. Him and Cam MacDonald play hard and play well.”

Westford put the most pressure on Soucy in the second and had their highest shot output with seven pucks put at goal. However, Central found a way to curb Westford's enthusiasm with a pair of goals in the final two minutes that took flipped momentum back to the visitors.

“Those were back breakers,” Carpenter said. “We were hoping if we could bring them into the third period 2-1 we would be in pretty good position. I think we had a couple of defensive breakdowns, and when you play a club as good as Central they're going to take advantage.”

WHITE LINE STEPS UP: Jankowski names his lines after colors, and in the second period the “white” line of Richie Greenberg, Kevin Regan, and Eric Robbins stepped up when the Raiders needed it.

Greenberg scored Central's first second period goal. A scrum in front of the net left the puck at his feet and he poked it home amidst the chaos. Just over a minute later Greenberg fed Robbins in front who potted a backhanded, one-timer to put the Raiders up three at the intermission.

“We don't have that high, high-end player, but we have a nice group of character guys that can skate real well and are disciplined,” Jankowski said. “That white line of Robbins, Regan, and Greenberg had two in one shift and that really turned the game around.”

Lester said having so much talent beneath the top line makes his job a lot easier and a lot less stressful.

“It's great to know that we have a lot of depth in our team; we trust our guys a lot,” Lester said. “It's good to know that when I get off and we're gassed we're safe with the next two or three lines.”

Central's depth is a byproduct of having so many players who have played in big games for a long time. Players like Zach Cote and Conrad Jepson, who have risen and grown with the Central program, provide a backbone on the ice that can't be taught.

“This is that first time that we have that solid core back, we have that depth back, and we have the goaltending,” Jankowski said. “It's exciting. It's fun to be a part of and see what we can put together going forward. We think we're going to keep getting better and better as it goes.”

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