Malden Catholic breaks free in third
NORTH ANDOVER — All Malden Catholic needed to get some separation from Central Catholic last night was 25 seconds.
With 10:28 remaining in the third period, Conor Evangelista sprung Ryan Fitzgerald for a breakaway. Fitzgerald flung the puck into the net, breaking a 2-2 stalemate.
With 10:03 remaining, Brendan Collier scored his second of the game, adding what turned out to be important breathing room as Malden Catholic pulled out a hard-fought 4-3 victory over Central Catholic in Super 8 play at Merrimack’s Lawler Arena.
The Raiders’ Nick Leonard one-timed a blast from just inside the faceoff dot past Malden Catholic’s Pat Young to cut the Lancers’ lead to 4-3 with 4:54 remaining. Mike Kelleher fed the puck to Leonard from behind the net to set up the goal.
Young then weathered a storm of action in the game’s final 30 seconds to preserve the victory. Every Central Catholic player on the ice was huddled around Young, trying to push the puck past him, but nothing materialized.
The end was fitting for a game in which both goalies looked like impenetrable walls for long stretches during the game. Neither Young nor Williams allowed goals in the second period.
Goalie Kyle Williams (23 saves) helped Central Catholic contain the tournament’s top seed, and, outside of those 25 seconds, the Raiders stayed in lockstep with the Lancers.
“What can you say about [Kyle]?,’’ said Central Catholic coach Mike Jankowski. “Every game, he makes big stops and he really turns momentum for us.’’
Said Malden Catholic coach Chris Serino about Williams, “We kept firing away at him and he made all the stops. He played great.’’
Collier gave the Lancers a 1-0 lead just 2:50 into the game. He walked out from behind the net and shot and the puck somehow found its way under Williams.
Mike Vecchione assisted on the goal, the first of three in the game. That gives the Lancers’ senior 73 points this season, tying him for the most in Catholic Conference history with 1994 Catholic Memorial grad Mike Sylvia.
The Raiders responded, and quickly.
Nearly two minutes after the Lancers’ goal, Kelleher tied the game, his shot finding its way through a scrum.
Alex Lester gave the Raiders a 2-1 lead at 6:13. Teammate Lloyd Hayes’s shot clanged off Young’s pads and Lester collected the rebound and roofed a shot.
The Lancers tied it at 2 with 1:10 left in the first. Nick Roberto centered a pass to Garrett White, who deposited the puck in the back of the net.