CANTON, Mass. – The Catholic Central Large league race is sure to be one of the tightest in the MIAA this season.
That was evidenced in Saturday night’s season opener between No. 6 Austin Prep and No. 17 Archbishop Williams. The Cougars and Bishops skated to a 2-2 tie in a very even game by all accounts.
Each squad saw equal amounts of positives and negatives. Likewise, AP head coach Louis Finocchiaro saw his team’s performance as indicative of where they are at the early juncture of the season.
“We’re still very young,” Finocchiaro said. “Our decision-making, at times, wasn’t what it needed to be. But our compete level is there, I thought the kids competed tonight. They’re a great team. They’re fast, they’re physical. They brought a lot of neutral zone speed against us.”
Archies (0-0-1) held two, one-goal leads in the contest, only to see the Cougars (0-0-1) respond to each tally.
Mike Jessman had the Bishops to a 1-0 lead with 3:41 remaining in the first, but AP answered in the final minute on a Jake McKenelly goal, assisted by Dan O’Toole.
After a scoreless second, the Bishops reclaimed the lead with 11:43 remaining in the game on Ryan Dunn’s blast. Jessman picked up his second point of the game on the assist.
The lead again would be short-lived as Cam Russo knotted the score less than three minutes later with an assist from Matt Morgan.
Quality scoring chances were hard to come by in the final minutes, as Bishops netminder Joe Vinay and Couagars goaltender Elijah Harris volleyed saves back and forth. Archies also had a power-play opportunity for the go-ahead goal in the final two minutes, but AP’s penalty kill unit held the Bishops without a shot.
“To be honest, I think all three of our lines are skilled and pretty even, even down on our third line, we have [George] Sennott, [Brent] Hill and Russo,” Finocchiaro said. “We’ve outshot everybody we’ve played so far, but we’ve been a little snake-bitten early, but if we keep playing like we have, they’ll come.”