STONEHAM – In a moment of desperation, BC High goaltender Peter Cronin went into split, sealing off the left post in an attempt to deny Catholic Memorial’s Liam Coughlin the easy wraparound goal.
All Coughlin had to do was aim high and he would be heralded a hero, and the senior captain never hesitated to deliver.
Coughlin snapped a wrist shot into the top right corner past an outstretched Cronin, with just 22.5 seconds remaining, to lift Catholic Memorial to a thrilling 3-2 win and series victory over BC High in the deciding Game 3 of the Super 8 first round Sunday at Stoneham Arena.
“‘Exaggerate high,’ is what our coaches tell us and it ended up going in and it was awesome,” Coughlin said.
On the play, the net shook from its moorings but the referees convened and decided the goal crossed the line before the net came loose.
“It definitely came off, but the referee was in good position and his explanation was that in the act of shooting, if the net comes off, it’s a good goal,” BC High coach John Flaherty said. “I have to trust that.”
It was a storybook ending to this year’s chapter of one of the most riveting rivalries in high school hockey. BC High got the best of CM in two Catholic Conference matchups this season, and won the first game of the quarterfinals series, 3-1, last Sunday.
Catholic Memorial evened the series with a 3-2 shootout victory on Wednesday, forcing the third and final game.
“In games like this, big-time players have to step up and get the job done for you,” CM coach Bill Hanson said. “Liam [Coughlin] just showed what kind of hockey player he is and what kind of character he had.”
With the game tied 1-1 entering the third period, sophomore Alec Flynn snapped a shot passed CM freshman goaltender Brendan Collett (29 saves) to give BC High a 2-1 lead at 5:24.
Nearly three minutes later, Catholic Memorial freshman Kevin Hock corralled a loose puck and broke for on a 2-on-1 breakaway and found freshman Aaron Clancy, who kissed his shot off the post and past Cronin to tie the game.
“[Hock] made a really nice pass under the defenseman’s stick, and I knew I had to have a quick release because Cronin is one of the best in the state.”
In the first period, BC High (15-5-3) jumped to a 1-0 lead on Patrick Kramer’s power play goal.
The Knights, who committed four penalties in the first period, settled in throughout the game. In the second period, on a delayed penalty call, Coughlin scored the equalizer on a pass from Clancy.
“We took a couple needless penalties,” Hanson said. “But we’ve killed penalties all year long and we survived it.”
Catholic Memorial (14-7-2) will face Malden Catholic (14-6-3) in a one game semifinal on Wednesday at Tsongas Center in Lowell.
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.