March 16, 2014

High Schools: Fantastic four for Malden Catholic

By Joshua Kummins

Malden Catholic players stream onto the ice after their team won its fourth straight Super Eight title on Sunday at TD Garden. (Joshua Kummins/New England Hockey Journal)

BOSTON – Make it a four-peat.

No. 2 seed Malden Catholic (20-4-0) finished off a run to its fourth consecutive Division 1A title with its second straight title game victory against fourth-seeded Austin Prep (16-5-4), a 5-3 win on Sunday afternoon at TD Garden.

For the Lancers' six seniors, including captain and UMass-Lowell commit Tyler Sifferlen (North Andover, Mass.), the victory completes a perfect career of Super Eight titles.

“It's a dream come true,” Sifferlen said after his two-goal effort. “I have no more words to say. It's an unbelievable feeling and I'm proud to be a part of this team. We worked hard all four years and we deserved it. … I'm just glad I could be a part of this team and be a leader.”

Neither side saw sustained pressure in the first period with the goaltenders stealing any high-quality chances. That is, until Sifferlen had something to say.

The Lancer senior captain and UMass-Lowell commit from North Andover, Mass. rushed up the left wing, stepped around a defender and backhanded a sliding puck past Austin Prep third-year Elijah Harris (Haverhill, Mass.) for his 23rd goal of the season.

“They've been doing it since they got here,” MC head coach John McLean (North Andover, Mass.) said of his top unit of Sifferlen, UNH commit and current junior captain Ara Nazarian (Boxford, Mass.) and junior right wing Jake Witkowski (Melrose, Mass.). “They had a great night with some really pretty goals. But the team needs everything to do to win. We work hard in practice, hold everybody accountable, and in big games like this, it pays off.”

MC outshot AP 9-8, and the Lancers needed that extra shot for a one-goal lead.

The Lancers jumped out of the gates in a wild start to the second period, scoring three goals in less than four minutes to open a 4-0 lead before Austin Prep got one back.

35 seconds in, Nazarian turned around in the middle of the left wing circle for his first goal of the playoffs, a beautiful wrist shot past Harris. Senior captain Nick Rolli (Stoneham, Mass.) made it a 3-0 game at the 2:25 mark on a long rifle from the point through a heavy screen.

“We saw that (Austin Prep) didn't press on the penalty kill,” Rolli said. “Coach stressed that the defenseman would be open and have time and space. I got the puck and we heard (junior) John McLean in front of the net, a big body, so I got the shot through and his screen was very big.”

Just 50 seconds later, senior Brian Cameron (Wakefield, Mass.) found Matt Filipe (Lynnfield, Mass.) alone in the middle of the far side faceoff circle for a perfectly placed shot that eluded Harris high.

“I can't really put the feeling into words,” said Filipe, a sophomore and recent Northeastern commit. “Brian Cameron just made a great chip up to me, I went down on a 2-on-1. The defenseman didn't really come after me, so I just shot it.”

The Cougars were finally able to beat MC junior Alex Reisis (Arlington, Mass.) at 3:39 as junior Cam Russo scored his 13th goal of the season on a shot low between the circles.

Sifferlen notched his second of the game on a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing sequence to close the scoring in a wild middle period, at the 13:04 mark.

Austin junior captain Bobo Carpenter (North Reading, Mass.) scored twice on a pair of open wrist shots in the third period to make things interesting, but the defending champs were too much in the end. With that two-goal effort, the Boston University commit finishes the season with 25 goals and 36 points.

“I was rushing up ice, just kind of throwing stuff on net just so we can get a chance,” Carpenter said. “Luckily for me, they both trickled right through.”

Division 1: Reading 4, Braintree 1

The Rockets (13-8-2) won their first Division 1 state title and returned to the winner's circle for the first time since surprising perennial power Malden Catholic to win the 2008 Super 8 final, thanks to a pair of goals in the opening period. Freshman Matt Thomson's shot from just inside the circle 11:02 into the proceedings was the game-winner. Senior Ian Lapham, who backboned the Rockets past three of the top six seeds in the North bracket, made 27 saves for the victory. Nick Ward scored the lone goal for the Wamps (16-6-3) in his final high school contest.

Division 2: Beverly 2, Medfield 1

The North's most prolific offense was held to just two goals after scoring more than 100 through the first 23 games of the season, but junior goaltender Tim Biarelli made it stand up for the Panthers (22-1-1) with 17 saves en route to the team's first state title. Senior leading scorer Connor Irving scored the deciding goal at 2:13 of the third period, beating senior Warrior goaltender Dan Graham on a scrum in front. For Medfield (18-4-3), senior Justin Hirschfeld scored the lone goal at 2:47 of the middle period.

Division 3: Shrewsbury 7, Hanover 1

Senior captain Matt McDougall scored early for the Indians (18-7-0), but then Matt Dillon took over. The Colonials sophomore notched a goal and dished out five assists to up his team-best season total to 40 assists and 51 points. In addition, junior Jack Quinlivan scored a pair of goals. With the win, Shrewsbury (21-2-1) captured its third state title after winning the crown in 1999 and 2009.

Division 1 Girls: Duxbury 2, Arlington Catholic 1

Both offenses were quiet until the third period, when the fifth-seeded Lady Dragons (14-1-6) struck first and held on to earn the state title in their first crack as a Division 1 program. Off a faceoff with 6:49 left in regulation, junior Marissa Fichter fluttered a wrist shot into the back of the net for the game-winning goal. Senior Danielle Kelley scored the lone goal for the Cougars (19-3-2).

Division 2 Girls: Westwood 6, Wellesley 2

The Wolverines (16-2-5) lit the lamp three times in the second period and cruised to victory to open the day's action. Senior Kim Egizi scored a goal and added two assists to lead Westwood to its first-ever state title. Sophomore Lauren White added an insurance goal late in the second period for the Wolverines, picking the top corner on Raiders (20-2-1) junior goaltender Meghan King. The Raiders scored both of their goals in the third period, coming off the sticks of sophomores Carley Boyle and Kiely Noonan. King made 35 saves in defeat.

Twitter: @JoshuaKummins