MALDEN — It was fitting that the final of the inaugural tournament held in honor of the late Chris Serino would come down to two teams led by his former assistants at Malden Catholic.
It was also fitting that extra hockey was needed to determine a winner as top-ranked Malden Catholic charged back from a late two-goal deficit and prevailed in a shootout, taking a 5-4 victory over No. 11 Austin Prep in the Christie Serino Christmas Classic.
“They dug down again and showed a lot of character against a really good team,” said MC coach John McLean. “It was important for us to recognize [Serino, who died in October at age 63]. It’s great for us, we can hold the trophy for one year and hopefully never lose it.”
Austin Prep sophomore Cam Russo (two goals) broke a 2-2 tie in the third when he popped home a rebound off a Brent Hill shot at the 8:03 mark.
One minute and 13 seconds later, Austin Prep (2-1-1) struck again when captain Nolan Vesey drove up the left wing, deked a defender, and backhanded a shot over Connor Maloney (23 saves) for a 4-2 lead.
Malden Catholic (4-0-0) pulled within one with 3:57 remaining. Captain Mike Iovanna (goal, two assists) backhanded a shot from the slot that cleared goalie Elijah Harris’s right shoulder.
The Lancers capitalized on a tripping penalty on Austin Prep with 2:25 left in regulation as Ara Nazarian (goal, two assists) moved the puck from the right corner into the slot and finding Tyler Sifferlin, who knotted the score.
“I thought it was a great high school hockey game,” said AP coach Louis Finocchiaro.
The Cougars created numerous opportunities in overtime, including a point-blank shot by Russo that Maloney saved in spectacular fashion.
“In OT I just wanted to make some big saves for my team,” said Maloney, who was named tournament MVP. “The puck just kind of came, I made a quick move, and fortunately I kept it out of the net.”
Following shootout goals from Iovanna and Sifferlin, Pat Wrenn won it for Malden Catholic by getting Harris (25 saves) to go low and then shooting high right.
“We were kind of down on ourselves,” said Iovanna. “Coming back after being down like that is pretty good. We had to win it for Coach. This was our tournament.”
In the consolation game, Hingham’s John Grenier stopped 12 shots in a 5-0 shutout of St. Mary’s and junior Sam D’Antuono scored three impressive goals. Captain Matt Brazel had a goal and an assist and Justin Ryder added three helpers.