STONEHAM — Everything was coming up roses for Springfield Cathedral this season as it skated to a 16-0-4 mark, the Panthers’ best start to any season.
Then along came Malden Catholic, which beat the Panthers in their regular-season finale, then swept Springfield in their best-of-three Super 8 series, culminating with a 4-0 victory Friday at Stoneham Arena.
“Malden [Catholic] is a great team,’’ said Springfield Cathedral coach Brian Foley. “They’re just a tough team to control. They look like the best team in the state right now to me.’’
A three-goal third period, highlighted by two Ara Nazarian scores, propelled the Lancers (14-6-3) to their sixth straight Super 8 semifinal appearance, giving them the opportunity to defend their back-to-back crowns.
“One more game and we’re at the Garden,’’ said Nazarian, whose team will face BC High or Catholic Memorial in the semifinal. “This win is good, but our ultimate goal is to make it to the Garden.’’
Following a scoreless first period, the Panthers (16-3-4) found their footing in the second. After Malden Catholic got the game’s first goal, Springfield Cathedral controlled play, outshooting the Lancers, 5-2, over the first five minutes of the frame.
That would be about all the pressure that Springfield could muster, as the Lancers’ defense, led by John McLean and Casey Fitzgerald, clamped down, holding the Panthers to only four shots in the third period.
“They did what they had to do,’’ said Malden Catholic coach John McLean. “Most of the guys on the ice are our better players and they did a good job tonight.’’
Malden Catholic got on the board at 9:55 of the second period when freshman Matt Filipe (goal, assist) buried a rebound off an Austin Goldstein shot that Panthers goalie John Liquori (27 saves) could not control.
Nazarian put the Lancers up, 2-0, just 48 seconds into the third period when he nearly put the puck through the twine with a blast from the slot.
At 8:40, after an initial shot and rebound were thwarted, Nazarian got his stick on a loose puck to bury his third shorthanded goal of the tournament.
Fitzgerald put a cap on the scoring in the final minute of regulation when he tapped home a Filipe pass on the right doorstep.
Malden Catholic goalie Connor Maloney stopped all 16 shots he faced for the fifth shutout over his last nine starts.
The win was the ninth straight for the Lancers and their 12th straight in the Super 8 dating to the start of the 2011 tourney.