Central Catholic Raiders Boys Ice Hockey '13-'14

Sat, Jan 04, 2014 TBA @ St. John's
Team 1 2 3 Final
Central Catholic 1 1 3 5
St. John's 2 1 0 3

Lester scores twice in final minute, Central rallies past rival St. John’s

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Saturday, January, 04 By David Willis
Staff writer

WILMINGTON —Central Catholic’s Alex Lester saw the puck pop into the air, and as the clock ticked down he made the only move he could think to make.

He swung his stick.

“Lloyd (Hayes) made a great play beating a man and putting the puck on net,” said Lester. “I saw it in the air and I just swung at it. I knocked it out of the air and into the net.”

With the game tied and just over a minute to play in the game, Hayes picked up the puck in the neutral zone and attacked the net. His shot was blocked by the goalie’s shoulder, but Lester was there to drive it home for the go-ahead goal with 1:07 left in the game to lead Central Catholic, the No. 3-ranked team in the state, to a 5-3 victory over No. 9 St. John’s Prep.

“That’s how we play hockey,” said Hayes. “Go to the net and try to make something happen. I know my linemates will be there. I knew we could win this game. If we kept battling something big was going to happen.”

The victory was sweet revenge for the Raiders, who were eliminated by the Prep in the three-game Super 8 first round series a season ago.

“St. John’s is our biggest rival,” said Lester. “We always circle that game when the schedule comes out. It’s a great rivalry, so to win especially after last year is huge.”

St. John’s Prep grabbed control in the first thanks to a pair of goals by Mark Etherington. But a goal from Corey Webber cut the Prep lead to 2-1 after one.

The Raiders tied the game just under three minutes into the second when Hayes fired a shot from the point that goalie Zach Laramie slid to his right to save, leaving the left side of the net open for Corey Webber to pound in the rebound. But the Prep responded just three minutes later to retake the lead, 3-2.

“All season long we have been playing with the lead,” said Raiders coach Mike Jankowski. “This was the first time we had to rally like last season. But we were able to calm down and keep fighting.”

Central tied the game in the third in highlight-reel fashion, as Sean Holley pulled in the puck just inside the blue line and let loose a shot just before being checked down by two defenders. The puck eluded the goalie to make the score 3-3.

It appeared the two rivals were headed for a tie, with the score still deadlocked and the clock under two minutes in regulation.

Then Eagle-Tribune All-Star Hayes and fellow four-year standout Lester stepped up.

“Someone chipped the puck up the wall,” remembered Hayes. “I was in the right place at the right time and the puck came to me. I drove to the net, which is what we are taught. I tried to go top shelf, but the goalie was able to knock it away. But Lester was there.”

Lester buried it into the net for his team-high seventh goal of the season, then iced the win his eighth of the year, an empty-netter with two seconds left on the clock.

“That one was all Christian (Thompson),” said Lester. “He made a great play and got the puck right to me.”

Central Catholic dominated the third period, outshooting the Eagles by a stunning 12-1 margin. The Raiders had a 27-11 shot advantage for the game.

It was yet another entry in the long list of clutch performances for Lester and Hayes (four assists yesterday), who have contributed for Raiders teams that have advanced to at least the Super 8 play-in round all three seasons.

“It feels like they have been around for at least six seasons right,” said Jankowski with a laugh. “They have been huge for us over the last four seasons. We always know we can rely on them.”

The road isn’t any easier for Central Catholic going forward. Coming up for the Raiders are a pair of unbeatens in Waltham (4-0-2) on Monday and Arlington Catholic (5-0-1) on Wednesday, with archrival Andover and a home meeting with three-time defending Super 8 champion Malden Catholic, the No. 1 team in the state, on the horizon.

“We are very confident right now,” said Hayes. “All we need is one goal. Once we get one it is very tough to stop up because of our depth and athleticism. We showed that today.”

Game Statistics:

Goals: CC — Alex Lester 2, Corey Webber, Sean Holley, Eric Robbins; SJP — Mark Etherington 2, Tyler Scearbo

Assists: CC — Lloyd Hayes 4, Christian Thompson 2, Conrad Jepson 2, Holley, Colin Soucy; SJP — Ted McNamara 2, jim Currier 2, Ean Mendeszoon

Saves: CC — Soucy 8; SJP — Zach Laramie 22

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