BOSTON –- It was a kind of glass-half-full tie for No. 11 Catholic Memorial.
Akin to last season’s stretch run, the Knights have the quandary of needing points to qualify for the postseason tournament while in the thick of their Catholic Conference schedule – never an easy task.
The Knights were about 49 seconds away from taking two points from No. 5 BC High during their Ed Wright Cup game at Walter Brown Arena on Saturday. While CM settled for one in a 4-4 tie with the Eagles, the Knights came away with more plusses than minuses.
“The good news is in our last two games, we’ve scored nine goals,” an upbeat Knights head coach Bill Hanson said.
Still, the Knights (6-6-1, 2-3-1 Catholic) were in prime position for the victory, only to watch the Eagles (8-3-3, 2-2-3) to tie it in the final minute.
CM forward Aaron Marcel looked as thought he’d found the game-winning goal with 1:51 to play, breaking a 3-3 tie. However, with 49.3 seconds remaining, BC High senior captain Matt Sullivan cleaned up a rebound to knot the score again.
“We were just trying to keep the puck down low, and I think Steve DeForge took the puck off the half wall,” said Sullivan, who earned game MVP honors with two points. “He got shot off high on the goalie’s shoulder and I was able to get the rebound.”
The Knights held the lead on three occasions in the course of the back-and-forth affair.
Jack O’Hear had CM to a 1-0 in the first; Tom Besinger countered for BC High later in the first. Then, eighth-grader Kevin Hock popped in his third of the season for a 2-1 lead in the second.
The Eagles claimed their first lead of the game in the third with Michael Brooks banking in a one-timer in front off of Ryan McDonough’s centering pass, after a goal by DeForge had tied it.
John Malewicz tied the score, 3-3, with nine minutes remaining.
“All in all, it was a pretty typical CM, BC High game,” BC High head coach John Flaherty summed it up. “Records go out the window.”
Hanson, with a quick wit and ability to turn phases with the best of them, was in rare form following the contest.
When fielding a reporter’s question about CM’s ability to handle opposing team’s forechecks in recent weeks, the Knights bench boss pulled out a Korean War reference.
“We’re playing a lot better in the neutral zone right now, which is allowing us to get pucks deep,” Hanson said. “We’re not having opponents coming at us like the [Chinese] Red Army over the Yalu River.”
Aside from the colorful description, what was at the heart of Hanson’s message was that he was pleased overall with team’s ability to make easy transitions out of the defensive zone, coming with speed through the neutral zone. It has been a sore spot in CM’s recent efforts, but Saturday marked a vast improvement for the Knights’ blue-liners.
"We can play with the confidence that we can come back when we're down," Hanson said.
A MOMENT OF CONCERN
Scary sight in the second period when BC High sophomore forward Chris LaLiberte left the game.
LaLiberte was skating through the neutral zone, near the penalty boxes, when he was sandwiched between the checks of two CM skaters. After laying motionless for a couple of tense seconds, LaLiberte eventually skated off on his own power.
He even tried to swing back toward the Eagles’ bench, only to be sent off to the room for the afternoon by Flaherty.
“You just can’t take any chances with head injuries,” Flaherty added.
LaLiberte’s play drew Flaherty’s praise, despite giving himself up in the process.
“He’s played with one hand, he’s played on one leg,” he said of the winger. “That’s the type of kid he is. … He sacrificed himself to make that play. We went on a 2-on-1 because of what he did. That’s what he does, he plays hard every shift.”