Friday, March 2, 2018

Central Catholic blanks St. John's (Shrewsbury) in Super 8

Photo by Eamon Convey
By Mike Abelson (@ABELS0N)

Lowell, Mass. - A year after watching a state title disappear in overtime of the championship game, the Central Catholic Raiders stepped back into the Super 8 tournament and put the rest of the bracket on notice.

Central went wire-to-wire against an overmatched Saint John’s (Shrewsbury) team, and rolled to a 5-0 win at Tsongas Center.

“I thought we were really good in the first half of the game, and then we slacked off a bit,” Central Catholic coach Kim Brandvold said. “We got a couple of goals at the end, but I don’t think we played overly well in the second half of the game.”

The Raiders played balanced hockey all night, but the biggest offensive beneficiary was Noah Jankowski. The junior had the first two goals for Central and assisted on the third. Junior defenseman Steven Birch scored the third for the Raiders.

After a relatively even first few minutes Jankowski scored at the five-minute mark to put Central ahead. Only 2:13 later he added his second, off a deflection, to have the Raiders some insurance.

Owen Fowler, Eric Lester and Joe Solimine each had a pair of assists for Central Catholic. The Raiders added a pair of goals in the final minutes from Will Winship and Charles Stahley

“I have no problem with the way we moved the puck,” Brandvold said. “We did a lot of good things. Obviously we want to keep moving in that direction.”

The Pioneers played with energy throughout but simply id not have the firepower to match Central Catholic. Saint John’s goalie Corey Splaine was an anchor in cage for the Pioneers stopping 31 shots. It was just too much from Central, and not enough help from his teammates in front of him.

The Pioneers best period was the second, where they were able to jam up the Raiders, but the period ended with Birch’s goal with just five seconds left in the period.

“We definitely came out full throttle and kind of let up in the second,” Jankowski said. “We can’t be doing that against these good teams. We’ve got to stay strong all game and stay consistent.”

Saint John’s was only able to muster 14 shots on Central Catholic junior Matt Pasquale, who notched his third shutout in Super 8 competition as a Raider.

“Fantastic,” Jankowski said of Pasquale. “He’s always lockdown. He does his job. Day in and day out he’s amazing. The work ethic he brings, the attitude, it’s just fantastic. You love to see it.”

The Pioneers will play Andover on Sunday at Chelmsford Forum with a shot to extend their season another day. Central returns to the Tsongas ice on Monday for a game against HIngham. The Raiders beat the Harbormen 4-0 back in December.

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