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Malden Catholic 3, St. John's (S) 2

Upset bid denied by No. 1 Lancers

Ara Nazarian (right), who scored Malden Catholic’s first goal, battles with Chris Adams of St. John’s (Shrewsbury). Ara Nazarian (right), who scored Malden Catholic’s first goal, battles with Chris Adams of St. John’s (Shrewsbury). (WINSLOW TOWNSON FOR THE GLOBE)
By Ryan Mooney
Globe Correspondent / March 5, 2012
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NORTH ANDOVER - Malden Catholic has not lost a tournament hockey game since March 10, 2010, and Sunday’s effort should be an indication that the Lancers might have what it takes to repeat as Super 8 champions.

Defenseman Colin MacGillivray scored the tying goal 3:02 into the third period, and Boston College recruit Ryan Fitzgerald tallied with 35 seconds remaining in regulation off a feed from Boston University recruit Brendan Collier to give the Lancers (16-1-4) a 3-2 victory over St. John’s of Shrewsbury at Lawler Arena.

“Our leaders stood up when they had to,’’ Malden Catholic coach John McLean said. “Fitzy and Brendan Collier have been carrying us all year and they went out and did the job. They’re clutch players.’’

Pioneers goaltender Mario Pizzeri was brilliant against a team that put up a plus-66 goal differential in the regular season. The sophomore finished with 34 saves, including 14 in the third period.

“[The defense] played great, a lot of the shots were from outside the circles,’’ Pizzeri said. “They did a good job shutting down the first two lines, that’s what we focused on in practice and I think they executed it great.’’

The Pioneers (16-5-3) had not appeared in a Super 8 game since they entered as the top seed in 2002. They made the cut this year by defeating eighth-ranked Needham in a play-in game, and after taking the top-ranked team in the state to the wire, it is clear they are here to stay.

“The positives are we battled, we played hard, we gave everything we’ve got,’’ Pioneers coach Brian Murphy said. “We’ll see if we can just get a little more offense next time.’’

St. John’s struck on its first shot of the game when Connor Bertram pounced on a loose puck to the left of Lancers netminder Connor Maloney after a shot by Kyle Moss from the right point whistled wide and deflected hard off the end boards. With a handful of players jamming to Maloney’s left, Bertram was able to corral the puck and put a soft wrister into the other side of the open net.

Malden Catholic’s Ara Nazarian put a backhander past Pizzeri to pull the Lancers even eight minutes into the second period.

St. John’s Vin D’Amato, who entered the game second on the team with 24 goals, caught Maloney out of position and put a soft shot into the back of the net from the slot at 11:52 of the second to put the Pioneers back on top. It was their only shot of the period.

The Pioneers were able to capitalize on their rare offensive opportunities - they landed only six shots on net all night - while weathering a relentless Malden Catholic attack.

“Defensively, I thought we played OK,’’ McLean said. “You’ve got to give St. John’s of Shrewsbury all the credit. I thought they played hard, they were smart . . . but we just kept digging, rolling out three lines, and told the guys to just keep getting pucks to the net, crash the net, do your job, and it worked out in the end.’’

St. John’s plays Hingham Tuesday at 5:45 at Lawler Arena, followed by Malden Catholic against BC High at 8:15.

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