NORTH ANDOVER—Central Catholic narrowly made the cut for the 22nd annual Super 8 tournament by winning a play-in game against seventh-ranked Burlington a week ago, but they made a strong case as to why they belong in the elite tournament on Sunday afternoon at Merrimack’s Lawler Arena.
The Raiders (14-3-5) gave up a two-goal cushion in the third period but survived an onslaught from St. Mary’s in overtime and found a hero in senior forward Steven Merrick, who’s five-hole finish in the fourth round of the shootout was all they needed to snap the Spartans’ state-best 21-game win streak, 6-5.
“I usually go five-hole when I get in on a breakaway,” Merrick said. “So I had it in my head I was going for it and he left it open for me.”
Central Catholic goalie Kyle Williams was perfect in the shootout, stopping all five shooters he faced and stealing the opening-round contest with a stick save on Connor Parent in the final round.
“I think he’s one of the best goalies in the state,” said Raiders forward Ryan Daigle, who tied the score at 3 with a second period goal. “Everyone’s overlooked him because he had a little slow year but he’s kept us in these games and we’ve prevailed.”
The Raiders were lucky to get to a shootout, as they entered overtime looking tired and sluggish while St. Mary’s dialed up the pressure, crashing the net and playing largely in the Raiders’ zone. Twice in overtime Spartans’ shooters rang the post.
“We don’t play much overtime anymore but we worked on a lot of conditioning in the week and a half we had off between games,” said Spartans coach Mark Lee. “I was extremely proud at the effort in the overtime period.”
After a loss to Central Catholic in last year’s play-in game, the Spartans (18-2-3) entered their first Super 8 tournament in school history with redemption on their minds.
“It was a point of emphasis that we talked about briefly,” Lee said. “That we’d like to get a little bit back at them for last year.”
Tied, 3-3, in the third period, Central Catholic took their second lead of the afternoon when Corey Webber snuck a rebound past Spartans goalie Bailey MacBurnie after a shot by Alex Lester at 4:01. Christian Smith added insurance with a power-play goal from in close, deflecting a Zachary Cote wrister from the right point with Thomas Braswell in the box for tripping.
Brendan Magaery responded with his second goal of the game at 8:09 on a brilliant feed from Jarrod Fitzpatrick from behind the Central Catholic net. Magaery didn’t get all of the shot, but it was enough to trickle through Williams’ legs and cut the deficit to 5-4.
Braswell pulled St. Mary’s even with just under three minutes remaining in the regulation when the Raiders turned a great play by defenseman Andrew Markham into transition. Markham saved a goal by laying out to take away the pass on a clean 2-on-1 break for St. Mary’s, leading to a 2-on-1 the other way. Fitzpatrick took a shot from the left of Williams and Braswell was there to put away the rebound.
“You know no lead is safe in this tournament,” Raiders coach Mike Jankowski said. “You know these guys can put a lot of points on the board in a hurry…but we were able to be resilient enough to get through.”
Central Catholic vs. St. Mary's, shootout
Central Catholic pulls out the 6-5 (1-0 SO) victory over St. Mary's of Lynn.
Shootout attempts appear in reverse-chronological order.
St. Mary's 0, Central 1 -- Connor Parent stopped with a right pad save by Kyle Williams.
St. Mary's 0, Central 1 -- Alex Lester stopped with a stick save by Bailey MacBurnie.
St. Mary's 0, Central 1 -- Bobby Mullins stopped with a left pad save by Kyle Williams.
St. Mary's 0, Central 1 -- Steven Merrick beats Bailey MacBurnie five-hole.
St. Mary's 0, Central 0 -- Jarrod Fitzpatrick hit the post to the left of Kyle Williams.
St. Mary's 0, Central 0 -- Christian Smith stopped on a left pad save by Bailey MacBurnie.
St. Mary's 0, Central 0 -- Nikko Markham hit the post over the left shoulder of Kyle Williams.
St. Mary's 0, Central 0 -- Michael Kelleher stopped by Bailey MacBurnie on a backhand bid.
St. Mary's 0, Central 0 -- Cam O'Neill's wrister stopped by Kyle Williams on a five-hole bid.
St. Mary's 0, Central 0 -- Ryan Daigle stopped on a glove save by Bailey MacBurnie.
Central Catholic vs. St. Mary's, overtime
There was no scoring during the overtime period. Both teams had their chances to put the game away, most notably a Patrick Dugan breakaway for Central stopped by Bailey MacBurnie and a St. Mary's two-on-one broken up on a great defensive play by Ryan Daigle.
Central Catholic vs. St. Mary's, third period
After 45 minutes of play, St. Mary's and Central Catholic head into overtime tied 5-5. The Spartans had a great chance with under a minute to play. After killing off a penalty, the Spartans had a slap shot carom off the glass behind the net and back out in front of the crease, but Central cleared the puck. There will now be a 12-minute overtime period.
12:17 3rd period: St. Mary's 5, Central 5 -- Jarrod Fitzpatrick creates a 2-on-1 with Tomas Braswell. Fitzpatrick's shot is saved with the right pad of Williams, but the puck falls to the stick of Braswell, who puts it in the wide-open net.
6:51 3rd period: St. Mary's 4, Central 5 -- Brendan Magaery gets the Spartans back within one as he takes the feed from Jarrod Fitzpatrick and Connor Parent and sneaks it past Williams.
5:27 3rd period: St. Mary's 3, Central 5 -- Five seconds into a power play opportunity, Christian Smith finds the back of the net to put Central up 5-3. Assists go to Zachary Cote and Nick Gorski.
4:01 3rd period: St. Mary's 3, Central 4 -- Alex Lester takes the pass from Steven Merrick on the left side of the net. Lester's shot is stopped by MacBurnie, but the rebound is put home by Corey Webber.
Central Catholic vs. St. Mary's, second period
After two periods of play, Central Catholic and St. Mary's of Lynn enter the locker room tied at 3 apiece.
8:00 2nd period: St. Mary's 3, Central 3 -- Zachary Cote receives the pass from Michael Kelleher at the right faceoff circle. With MacBurnie hugging the near post, Kelleher outlets it to Ryan Daigle on the left side, who puts it home.
4:57 2nd period: St. Mary's 3, Central 2 -- Cam Grenham passes to Bobby Mullins, who skates across the middle and catches Williams down in the crease. Mullins buries it in the right side of the net for the lead.
3:19 2nd period: St. Mary's 2, Central 2 -- After a blocked shot, the puck finds its way back to Brendan Magaery in the slot, who wrists it through a crowd and past Williams. Eric MacAdams gets the assist.
0:34 2nd period: St. Mary's 1, Central 2 -- Zachary Cote intercepts a pass in the Spartan defensive end and chips it to Michael Kelleher, who carries the puck in and tucks it under the crossbar.
Central Catholic vs. St. Mary's, first period
After one period, St. Mary's 1, Central Catholic 1.
12:31 1st period: St. Mary's 1, Central 1 -- Tim Aylward gets the pass from Cam O'Neill, skates around a Central defender along the left board, and wrists one over the left shoulder of Central netminder Kyle Williams. Cam Grenham also registers an assist on the tally.
1:26 1st period: St. Mary's 0, Central 1 -- Michael Hovnanian gathers the puck in the slot, fakes to his right, shifts left, and backhands it past St. Mary's goalie Bailey MacBurnie. Assists come from Christian Smith and Jake Donahue.
We are live from Lawler Arena on the campus of Merrimack College for the first round of Super 8 hockey. In the second game this afternoon, No. 2 St. Mary's of Lynn will take on No. 7 Central Catholic. We will be providing updates here throughout the day, so stay tuned for what is sure to be an intense day of hockey action.
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