However, confusion reigned when Springfield Cathedral pulled its goalie in the final minute of the third period despite having a 4-3 edge. Springfield Cathedral required a two-goal victory if it wanted to advance.
"If not for the format [of the tournament] we wouldn't have been alive today, so we can't complain about that," said Springfield coach Brian Foley. "Needing to win by two is definitely a different way to approach the game."
Springfield Cathedral came out with purpose and DJ Petruzzelli came through just 56 seconds into the game as he skated up the middle alone, faked right and deposited the puck in the open left side of the net for a 1-0 lead.
They continued to ratchet up the attack and Jordan Kozub stuffed home a rebound at the 11:44 mark of the first, followed by Frank Crinella doing the same less than a minute later for a 3-0 lead.
After sleepwalking through the first period, Ryan Daigle opened the Raiders' eyes when he picked off a pass in the neutral zone, skated in on the right wing and ripped one past John Liquori on a shorthanded bid to make it 3-1.
Central Catholic backup goalie Andrew Robbins replaced Williams to start the second and the senior stopped nine shots to keep the Raiders within two after two periods.
"Spotting them three goals early was not what we expected at all," said Central Catholic coach Mike Jankowski. "Coming back with Robbins in net sealed the deal. It's been a pretty special season."
The Raiders gained momentum on an early goal in the third, this time from Christian Thompson who fired one home from low on the left-side of Liquori to make it 3-2 at the 1:30 mark.
Less than two minutes later Nick Gorski got off a slap shot from high in the slot that sailed past Liquori to pull the Raiders even, 3-3.
Midway through the third, Crinella potted his second of the game to seize momentum back in favor of the Panthers.
That's when Springfield Cathedral pulled Liquori with less than a minute to play, while Central Catholic left Robbins in.
"They needed to win so I was expecting them to pull their goalie," Foley said. "They never pulled their goalie, which surprised me."
Central Catholic's Michael Kelleher picked off a pass and netted the game-tying goal with 13 seconds left in regulation, setting up the sixth overtime game in the tournament.
In overtime, Donahue nabbed a puck from the sticks of the Panthers and skated in with a defender draped on him, but managed to get off his shot as he was going down to the ice, scoring 4:20 into the extra frame.
4:10 overtime: Central Catholic 5, Springfield Cathedral 4 -- Jake Donahue wins it for the Raiders with an unassisted highlight-reel goal. Cathedral is eliminated but Central Catholic is not out of the woods yet. If St. Mary's beats St. John's Prep by two or more goals the Raiders do not advance.
End of 3rd period: Springfield Cathedral 4, Central Catholic 4 We're headed for overtime.
14:48 3rd period: Springfield Cathedral 4, Central Catholic 4 -- The Panthers pull their goalie in hopes of scoring one more and winning by two goals to stay alive on goal differential. No dice. Michael Kelleher ties it with the net empty and 12 seconds remaining. Assisted by Lloyd Hayes.
7:38 3rd period: Springfield Cathedral 4, Central Catholic 3 -- Cathedral climbs back on top on a shorthanded bid by Frank Crinella. Artie Potter wins a puck in the neutral zone and finds Crinella sneaking toward the Raiders' zone. Potter fires a perfect saucer pass to Crinella, who beats Robbins with a wrister for his second of the game.
3:16 3rd period: Springfield Cathedral 3, Central Catholic 3 -- We're all knotted up...Nick Gorski picks up a loose puck near the Panthers' blue line, walks into the zone, and snaps a laser over Liquori's shoulder from the point. Unassisted.
1:30 3rd period: Springfield Cathedral 3, Central Catholic 2 -- The Panthers misplay the puck behind their own goal, leading to a Christian Thompson wraparound to cut the Raiders' deficit to one. Assisted by Michael Hovnanian and Christian Smith.
End of 2nd period: Springfield Cathedral 3, Central Catholic 1 -- The Panthers are still holding on to the two-goal lead they forged at the beginning of the period. Raiders winger Michael Kelleher created a great chance for himself dangling past two defenseman and putting a quality shot on Liquori late in the period, but was denied with no chance at a rebound. Shots on goal through 30 minutes: Central Catholic 18, Cathedral 15.
0:22 2nd period: Springfield Cathedral 3, Central Catholic 1 -- Ryan Daigle puts the Raiders on the board with a shorthanded goal just 22 seconds into the second period. Daigle forces a turnover at the Central Catholic blue line and walks in alone on Cathedral netminder John Liquori. Unassisted.
Start of 2nd period: Springfield Cathedral 3, Central Catholic 1 -- Senior Andrew Robbins (1.33 GAA) is now between the pipes for the Raiders.
End of 1st period: Springfield Cathedral 3, Central Catholic 0 -- Frank Crinella tallies less than one minute after Kozub's rebound goal and the Panthers take a three goal cushion into the intermission.
11:44 1st period: Springfield Cathedral 2, Central Catholic 0 -- Jordan Kozub picks up a rebound in close to the right of Williams and puts it away to extend the Panthers' lead.
0:56 1st period: Springfield Cathedral 1, Central Catholic 0 -- DJ Petruzzelli sprints up the middle of the ice, skates in alone, fakes Kyle Williams right and goes left for a very early 1-0 Panthers lead.
We are getting ready for game three of four here at Merrimack College as bracket two gets ready to shuffle the deck to see who advances to the crossover round on Wednesday.
Several reporters and editors contribute updates, news and analysis to the High School Sports Blog.
- Bob Holmes: A Reading resident (Go Rockets!) and Boston College graduate, Holmes is the Boston Globe High School Sports Editor. We remind you now that his weekly picks are often made in jest so everyone just calm down when he picks against Everett for 11 straight weeks. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeHolmes.
- Craig Larson: A native of West Springfield (Leo Durocher anyone? Tim Daggett?) and Curry College graduate (a proud Colonel!), Larson is the sports editor for the Globe's regional sections: South, West and North, as well as a frequent contributor on the college beat. Abington to Xaverian: it all starts with the schools. Have a compelling story idea? Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeLars.
- Zuri Berry: Berry attended the same high school as sports legends O.J. Simpson and Joe DiMaggio. (Guess which one is his hero.) He's a South Boston resident (formerly of Eastie) and the editor of the High School Sports blog as well as the go-to-guy for everything high school sports on Boston.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GlobeSchools for all of the latest updates.
Then there are our fall correspondents:
- Anthony Gulizia | @gulizia_a | Div. 1 football
- Eric Russo | @erusso22 | Div. 2 football
- Stephen Sellner | @stephen_sellner | Div. 3 football
- Andrew MacDougall | @Andy_MacDougall | Div. 4 football
- Greg Joyce | @GJoyce9 | Div. 5 football
- Lorenzo Recupero | @LorenzoRecupero | Div. 6 football
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Girls volleyball
To reach the high school sports department, e-mail email@example.com.