By Matt Williams
It was the sort of game that would have been easy to lose: Falling behind by a pair of goals in a rival's building in front of a lively crowd. That was the boat Central Catholic found itself in last Saturday against St. John's Prep, the team that ended its season last year in the Super 8, at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington.
The Raiders might have been down, but they were not out. Taken as a microcosm of the season, Central's come-from-behind 5-3 win was plenty of evidence that the Raiders are much more than frontrunners. They're a team that might be there at the end in March.
Wednesday night's 4-2 setback against Arlington Catholic (now 6-0-1) notwithstanding, Central Catholic sits at 6-1-1, No. 4 in this week's NEHJ Massachusetts power rankings. The loss was the third game in five days for the Raiders, after they'd come from behind against St. John's Saturday and beaten No. 10 Waltham on Monday.
They have arguably the best goaltender in the Bay State in Colin Soucy, and they've been getting timely scoring and good defense in front of him. Saturday, the upstart Prep (3-3-1) pushed Central, hard, by becoming the first team to score more than one goal against them all year.
The way the Raiders responded, outshooting their hosts 25-8 over the final two periods, was impressive. Central tied it 2-2 early in the second before the Eagles pulled ahead once more. The Raiders couldn't score on a lengthy 5-on-3 chance, but still netted the tying goal in the third. Alex Lester scored the winner crashing the net with 1:07 to play and then scored an empty-netter to ice it.
“It was the first time we had to rally like that,” Central coach Mike Jankowski said after Saturday's win. “We calmed down and kept fighting.”
Jankowski likes his team's depth, and it's easy to see why. Through a third of the season, four skaters have netted four goals or more. Each of those four has at least 10 points with Lloyd Hayes (four goals, 14 assists) leading the ledger. Corey Webber (six goals, nine assists), Lester (eight goals, five assists), and Richie Greenberg (four goals, six assists) also finding the net.
Central is battle tested, with each of their last four coming against teams that have appeared in the NEHJ Mass. Rankings this season. They don't get much of a break, either, as they're schedule to play No. 6 Springfield Cathedral and No. 2 Malden Catholic over the next two weeks.
If last week's rally against St. John's is any indication, you can bet Central will be ready to fight for all 45 minutes.
New Number 1: BC High unseats Malden Catholic for the top spot in our fourth state-by-state power rankings. The Eagles did it the old fashioned way, by beating the Lancers 5-3 on Tuesday night. It'll be a battle of state No. 1's on Saturday, when Rhode Island No. 1 Bishop Hendricken hosts BC High at Brown University.
Tap of the stick to senior center Tyler Seeley up in Presque Isle, Maine. He notched a hat trick to reach 100-points for his career when Presque Isle defeated John Bapst last weekend.
To see which teams Matt has in the top 10 for each of the six states in New England, head to our High School Power Rankings page.