Thursday, March 16, 2017

Central Catholic Advances to Super 8 Finals with OT Win over BC High

By Mike Abelson (@ABELS0N)

LOWELL, Mass. - For 45 minutes, Central Catholic and BC High simmered. Neither team could get the edge, and both goalies were locked in.

Then, it took a just over a minute of extra hockey, and the right bounce, before Central Catholic’s Thomas Manty crashed the net, located his own rebound, and poked the puck past the sprawled out body of BC High goalie Luke Garrity to propel the Raiders to a 1-0 win, and their first ever Super 8 final.

“It was a great play,” Central Catholic coach Kim Brandvold said. “He’s a heady player, real great skillset. When he’s willing to go to the net like that he can produce a lot of goals.”

The game was so even that long stretches seemed to disappear without notice. Chunks of four or five minutes would fly by as both teams played strong defensive hockey. Both sides had chances as well, on the offensive end, but couldn’t find the net.

BC’s top line of Danny O’Connell, Michael Grant, and Thomas Kramer were a cut above when they were on the ice, especially in the middle portion of the game, but they couldn’t solve Central goalie Matthew Pasquale.

“Our team’s faced a lot of adversity this year,” Pasquale said. “We’ve been resilient. We’ve been practicing up for this moment a ton, and everyone’s playing great around me, so it’s easy to stay focused.”

The win sends Central to its first ever state title game where it will take on Arlington. It will be the first time in the 27-year history of the Super 8 that the Catholic Conference will not place a team in the final.

“My dad was a coach at Central and they played the first round a few years ago at the Garden,” Manty said. “I remember myself and Noah Jankowski, our dads were both coaching, and we were out on the ice taking pictures. We thought to ourselves one day we’ll make it out here when we’re in high school. Sure enough, me and my linemate are going to be playing at the Garden on Sunday.”

For BC High, the ending caps a helter skelter season of both success, and of coming short in big games.

“This game is a game of bounces and inches, and I think we’re on the bad end of a bounce,” BC High coach John Flaherty said. “It is what it is. I think we outplayed them for large stretches of the game, which kind of summarized our year. I think there were a lot of games where we outplayed games and came up short."

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