Central Catholic Raiders Boys Ice Hockey '07-'08

Mon, Jan 21, 2008 04:00 PM @ Central Catholic
Team 1 2 3 Final
Catholic Memorial 1 0 1 2
Central Catholic 0 1 1 2
North Andover: Goalie Mike Alesse, of Central Catholic High School boys hockey with one of many saves he made against Catholic Memorial High School at Merrimack College » TIM JEAN, Staff PhotographerMore photos

Central Catholic shocks top-ranked Catholic Memorial with tie

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Tuesday, January, 22 By David Willis
Staff writer

NORTH ANDOVER | As the horn sounded for the end of the game, Central Catholic's players flew over the boards and mugged goalie Mike Alesse in a celebration that was worthy of state championship victory.

"This was amazing," said Raiders senior Justin Kurek. "We did not expect this. I scored a big goal against Waltham last year, but this beats it today. It is something special that I will remember for the rest of my life."

With 32 seconds remaining in the game, Kurek took a pass in front of the net and fired a shot past into the net to give Central Catholic (6-3-4) a 2-2 tie against unbeaten Catholic Memorial, the No. 1-ranked team in Eastern Mass.

"We were forechecking pretty hard," Kurek said. "I got the puck to Ross Sarmento, Ross passed it out in front to me and I didn't even look where I was shooting. I just went five-hole."

The tie was the first in the Raiders' history against the state's top power and winner of a whopping 12 out of 17 Super 8 state titles. The only other time the two schools had played, last year in the Super 8 first round, CM won 10-1.

"We just tied the top team in the state and one of the best teams in the country," said Central senior Tim Houston. "That was the best game we have played all year. Once again, we came back, like we did against Andover, and that really shows the character of this team."

This came only two days after the powerful Knights (7-0-2) skated to a 2-2 tie with Academy of Holy Angels, one of the top-ranked teams in hockey hotbed Minnesota and last year's state champion. CM also downed Boston College High School, the No. 4 team in Eastern Mass., 4-1 on Jan 16.

"I thought it was over at 2-1," admitted goalie Mike Alesse. "But, just like last year, we came though in the clutch. To tie a team like this is really special."

After struggling to break the Catholic Memorial attack for much of the night, the Raiders managed one of their few offensive attacks leading up to the goal.

"We just let it all hand out (in the final minute) to see if we could get something going and the kids responded," said Central coach Mike Jankowski. "We put them on the schedule this year and just wanted to play them. CM is what every team strives to be. It's an awesome feeling for these guys to pull this off."

After allowing a fluky goal in the first minute of the game, Alesse was dazzling throughout, making a whopping 42 stops as the Knights held the puck in Central's zone for much of the game.

And his team finally made it stand up.

"We went into this game knowing it would be a tough fight," said Kurek. "We wanted to do whatever we could to stay in the game. We just played regular, hard hockey. It definitely feels like a win."

The goal was Kurek's team-leading 10th goal of the season, after which he was mobbed by his linemates. Assists went to Ross Sarmento and Tim Houston. It eerily mirrored the goal by Mark Brien two days earlier in the final seconds that gave Central Catholic a 1-1 tie with Andover.

After falling behind 1-0, the Raiders tied the game 4:08 into the second quarter when Brendan Slein gathered in a pass from Houston in front of the net and hammered it into an open corner.

It doesn't get any easier for the Raiders, who face Malden Catholic, the No. 3 team in Eastern Mass. on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Malden.

"CM is a great opponent," said Jankowski. "If you can't build off a game like this, than there isn't much you can build off of."

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