|Malden Catholic captain Brendan Collier had plenty to holler about after the Lancers seized the Super 8 hardware. (Winslow Townson / For the Boston Globe)|
It's a rare double take for MC
Prior to the start of the season, defending Super 8 champion Malden Catholic was devastated to learn it would be without coach Chris Serino as he battled throat cancer.
With Serino watching from afar, the Lancers made him proud, defending their crown with a 3-1 victory over BC High Sunday at TD Garden.
“It’s been a very long season mentally and physically,’’ said MC coach John McLean, who led the Lancers to a 20-1-4 record in Serino’s absence. “We dug down and we did what we had to do.’’
MC became only the third team to win back-to-back Super 8 crowns, but it was not easy as the Lancers found themselves in an early, 1-0 hole.
BC High (13-6-5) defenseman Sam Topham swung in on the left wing and took what looked to be a harmless shot from a bad angle, but the puck found daylight between Connor Maloney (14 saves) and the post and the Eagles led, 1-0, just 1:58 into the game.
“It was a lot like last year,’’ said MC captain Brendan Collier. “We came out with some heavy legs and nerves, but [Topham] made a nice shot and beat Connor and he settled down from there.’’
The Lancers offense picked up the pace in the second period and fired 17 shots on Peter Cronin, but the BC High goalie was more than up for the task, stopping all but one.
“Everyone got to see what I’ve been talking about all season long,’’ said BC High coach John Flaherty of Cronin, who stopped 28 shots. “He is an exceptional goalie. To keep that team and that firepower where he kept them, gave us a chance to win.’’
The one in the second period that Cronin couldn’t contain came off the stick of Collier, who collected a pass from Ryan Fitzgerald on the left side, faked Cronin to the ice and took it backhand on the right side to knot the game, 1-1, where it stood heading into the third period.
“We’ve been playing together for three years now,’’ Collier said of Fitzgerald. “We looked at each other after the first period and were like, ‘What are we doing?’ Once we got that break, we got momentum back on our side.’’
With the game deadlocked in the third and the Lancers cycling in the offensive zone, Fitzgerald looked to feather a pass to Nick Rolli on the left point but BC High’s Matt Sullivan got a stick on the puck, which left it lying in wait at the top of the slot.
Rolli raced forward and with four BC High players converging on him he pushed the puck down low to Mike Iovanna who was all alone in front of the net where he backhanded it home for a 2-1 lead with less than seven minutes in regulation.
“It was unbelievable,’’ Iovanna said of scoring the winning goal. “We were working so hard, so to get that goal was unbelievable.’’
Casey Fitzgerald capped the scoring with an empty-netter in the final seconds, as the Lancers ended their season on a 20-0-4 run after losing their season opener to Delbarton (New Jersey).
“We were hoping he’d come tonight,’’ McLean said of Serino. “He showed up tonight, came down and was on the ice. It’s been a long journey mentally for these kids and him and the coaching staff and the school. I’m proud of the kids that dug down for him. He’s very, very proud of the boys. It means a lot for us to be able to do that for him.’’