Central Catholic Raiders Boys Ice Hockey '11-'12

Sun, Mar 11, 2012 04:45 PM @ Neutral Location
Team 1 2 3 OT Final
Pope Francis 3 0 1 0 4
Central Catholic 0 1 3 1 5

Central becomes first area team to advance to Super 8 semifinals

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Sunday, March, 11 By David Willis
Staff writer

NORTH ANDOVER — Jake Donahue awoke yesterday morning with images of being a Central Catholic hockey hero in his head.

But the senior defenseman, who had scored just three career goals, knew the chances were slim.

“I was dreaming that it would happen,” said Donahue. “But I didn’t believe it would really happen. It‘s just … It‘s amazing.”

On the biggest stage in high school hockey, Donahue not only delivered the play of his life, his Raiders made area history in the most dramatic of fashions.

After Central Catholic battled back from a three-goal deficit, and Mike Kelleher sent the game into overtime with a goal with 12 seconds left in regulation, Donahue capped off the miraculous evening, breaking in alone and beating the goalie for the goal midway though the extra session that gave the Raiders a 5-4 victory over Springfield Cathedral in the must-win third game of the Super 8 first round.

That victory, combined with St. John’s Prep’s 3-1 win over St. Mary’s, makes Central Catholic the first team in Eagle-Tribune area history to ever advance to the semifinals of the elite Super 8 tournament.

“It’s the greatest feeling of my life,” said co-captain Ryan Daigle. “Once that red light went on we just rushed Jake, and it was like no other feeling. To be the first Central Catholic team to move on is something very special.

 The Raiders (15-4-5) advance to face top-seeded Malden Catholic (18-1-4) on Wednesday (time TBA).

“This is why we play hockey,” said Kelleher. “It’s unreal to be here, and it’s an honor to be past that and on to the next round of the Super 8.”

The dramatic finish appeared a fantasy after one period, as Cathedral dominated on the way to a 3-0 lead.

“There was no sulking but we were down,” said Kelleher. “Donahue came in and gave a speech and the coaches got us pumped us up. We were ready.”

Daigle set the tone right away in the second. Grabbing the puck off the opening faceoff he broke in and fired it past the goaltender just 22 seconds into the period.

“That was huge,” said Daigle. “That goal took their momentum right away and gave us a jump in our step. It was what we needed.”

The score stayed that way until 1:12 into the third period, when freshman Christian Thompson netted his second goal of the season, and 2:04 later Nick Gorski scored to tie the game 3-3.

But back came Cathedral with a goal with 7:22 to go in regulation to grab the lead back 4-3, and some tremendous play by goalie John Liquori kept that lead intact as the third period ticked away.

But with the Raiders attempting one final rush, Kelleher found himself with the puck on his stick right in front of the net — which was open because Cathedral had pulled the goalie needing two win by two goals for the chance to advance — and scored with 0:12 left to send the game into overtime.

“I was wide open and (Lloyd Hayes) put the puck right on me,” he said, “I looked up the net was wide open, but it was still nerve-wracking on that stage. It shot it and it went in.”

Central Catholic opened the extra session with the momentum, setting up Donahue’s heroics.

“It was the end of the shift and we were changing (lines),” he said. “I thought to myself, ‘Should I dump it or go with it?’ Then I said, ‘Heck, I’m going with it.’

“I took it down ice, beat a guy, the goalie overcommitted, I poked it in and the rest was history.”

Once the goal went in, the Central bench emptied and the team piled on Donahue.

“It was just indescribable,” said goalie Andrew Robbins, who made 20 saves for the win. “To be part of this, and know I helped us get to this point is something I’m going to carry the rest of my life. Everyone was so happy. It was amazing.”

Game Statistics:

Goals:  CC — Ryan Daigle, Christian Thompson, Nick Gorski, Mike Kelleher, Jake Donahue; SC — Jordan Kozub 2, Frank Crinella 2

Assists:  CC — Mike Hovnanian, Christian Smith, Lloyd Hayes; SC — Artie Potter 2, Jeff Deloria, Thomas Quinlan

Saves:  CC — Kyle Williams 8, Andrew Robbins 20; SC — Jon Liquori 23

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