Central Catholic Raiders Boys Ice Hockey '17-'18

Sat, Mar 10, 2018 05:30 PM @ Neutral Location
Team 1 2 3 Final
Central Catholic 1 0 0 1
Pope Francis 1 1 2 4

Central falls to Pope Francis, eliminated from Super 8

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Saturday, March, 10 By David Willis
Staff writer

NORTH BILLERICA — A postseason that began with so much promise ended in disappointment for Central Catholic on Saturday night. 

The No. 1 seed Raiders fell behind early in the second quarter, and could not recover against an aggressive No. 7 Pope Francis attack, falling 4-1 in the Super 8 loser’s bracket at the Chelmsford Forum.

“We’re disappointed because I think everyone envisioned a different ending than this,” said Central coach Kim Brandvold. “I know it’s all about the finish and we didn’t get there.”

The loss, combined with the loss to Hingham on Monday that send the Raiders to the losers’ bracket, eliminated Central Catholic (22-3-0) from the postseason. Pope Francis (19-4-3) advances to play St. John’s Prep on Monday.

Central beat Pope Francis twice during the regular season, 3-1 in the Pete Frates tournament and again 3-1 on Feb. 21 at the Cardinals’ home rink in Springfield.

“It comes down to the end and we didn’t make the plays or get the bounced we wanted at certain times today,” said Brandvold. “And Francis played a great game. They really did. We are very disappointed, but I am also so proud of the guys for a great season.”

Pope Francis took the lead with 4:06 left in the first period, but Central responded just 1:32 later. Joe Biddle picked up a puck in the corner and fired a perfect pass in front of the net to Evan Digiovanni, who buried a shot to make it 1-1 after a period.

But, from there, Central would struggle to find a consistent offensive attack against a physical Pope Francis squad that checked hard and frequently hit the ice to block shot after shot.

“This rink is smaller (than Central’s home rink, the Salem Icenter) and has a smaller neutral zone,” said Brandvold. “But we were right there with them in shots (22-22) and chances. That’s the nature of hockey. If you don’t get that goal when you’re pushing, a lot of times it goes back the other way.”

Pope Francis took a 2-1 lead 3:35 into the second period. Central had a few changes at the equalizer in the second and third, but none found the back of the net. One slap shot hit Pope Francis goalie Victor Larssen’s mask and bounced away. Another shot hit the post, and a bouncing puck that the Raiders nearly buried was just barely cleared.

“Central is a very tough team and we knew we had to play a very good game to beat them,” said Cardinals coach Brian Foley. “I am very proud of my guys.”

Pope Francis iced the victory with a goal with 2:17 left to play, then chipped in an empty-netter with 0:52 left.

Central goalie and Merrimack Valley Conference/Dual County League Division 1 MVP Matt Pasquale made 19 saves, often keeping the Raiders within striking distance.

“I thought Matt played a great game,” said Brandvold. “He was probably the best player in the state for most of this season, and he we great tonight.

“If we could fast forward two months when it doesn’t hurt anymore we will feel like this was a great season. But right now it stinks. It’s tough. But we have a group of guys that had a great season. It’s just very disappointing right now.”


Game Statistics:

Goals: CC — Evan Digiovanni; PF — Trevor Crawford 2, Makem Demers, Jacob King

Assists: CC — Joe Biddle; PF — Brendan Nehmer, Max Cocchi , Demers, Logan Dapprich 

Saves: CC — Matt Pasquale 19; PF — Victor Larssen 21

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