NORTH BILLERICA, Mass. — Central Catholic has been relying on its balance all season, and that strength was on display in the a 4-3 victory over Chelmsford last night at the Chelmsford Forum.
Ryan Daigle scored a goal and had an assist, and the Raiders had four different goal scorers to push past the Lions for the season sweep of the series.
“They are hard working and they have tremendous character,” Raiders head coach Mike Jankowski said. “We played the other night and we had nine goals with seven different goal scorers. We’ve played all three goalies and it’s been fantastic. We’ve been in some tough spots and it’s been tremendous.”
The Raiders needed the balance, and they needed the early scoring to hold off a pesky Lions bunch to grab this victory. Daigle assisted on Zack Cote’s goal to get things going in the first period, and the senior forward scored on the power play in the second period on a pinpoint shot from the left point for the 2-0 lead at 3:26.
Mike Hovnanian and Alex Lester scored a pair of unassisted goals to sandwich in between a tally by Matt Winter to take a 4-1 lead after the second period.
The Raiders nearly squandered the three-goal lead in the third period, but got enough saves from Kyle Williams — including some nice glove work on David DeDonato on the doorstep — to move their record to 11-2-4.
GLOVE SAVES, AND A BEAUTY
Williams made the big glove save in the third period, but it was the Lions' netminder who made two of the better saves around.
Lloyd Hayes had a beat on the top right corner when he was flying in on a break, but Derek Noble snared the puck from going into the net with a lightning quick reflex keep the score a 1-0.
Christian Smith nearly picked the same corner with 14.7 seconds left in the period, but Noble again got the glove up and in position to snatch it out of the air. The Raiders outshot the Lions 13-5 in the period and could have had a stranglehold on the game.
“He held them in early and then in the second period we got a little bit of space there,” Jankowski said.
BIG FINISH FOR RAIDERS
Jankowski wasn’t quite sure if his team would be in the Super Eight conversation when the season began, but the Raiders are a few wins away from making a clear case for being part of the top eight teams in the playoffs.
The Raiders have two league games against Andover and Acton-Boxborough, but the biggest game of the year might come Monday against Catholic Memorial. Jankowski has preached staying focused on each game to his team, but he obviously knew the question was coming and the challenge that lies ahead.
“I’m over there just saying one game at a time, but you look at it and you circle it,” Jankowski said. “That for us is the ultimate goal to some day be in the same breath and the same situation going down the stretch playing a team like that and a coach like that. They have everyone’s admiration around here, so for us I’d be lying if I said we aren’t looking forward to it. It’s really going to be a contest to see where we really stack up.”