BOSTON -- When Ringo Starr sang “It Don’t Come Easy” all those years ago, he mind as well have been musing about No. 9 Malden Catholic’s fortunes of late. Entering Saturday night’s Catholic Conference showdown with No. 4 Catholic Memorial at Walter Brown Arena, the Lancers were on an uncharacteristic three-game losing streak.
But, for a change, MC played with the lead against the Knights, building a four-goal cushion by early in the third period. Still, the Lancers had to sweat it out, as CM countered for three late goals.
Yet, MC paid its dues and held on for a 4-3 win and two critical points, as the Lancers moved back to .500 at 5-5-3.
“We’ve had a rough couple of games,” junior forward Brian Cameron said. “We just wanted to work hard. We just wanted to get it over the red line, get it in, get in with the forecheckers with two guys staying high and then work from the dirty areas and get pucks to the night. That’s what we did tonight.”
The Lancers (1-4-2 Catholic Conference) amassed their lead with contributions coming throughout their forward lines.
Ara Nazarian put MC in the rare position of playing with the lead, potting his 13th goal of the season at 9:41 of the first, set up on Nick Rolli’s outlet pass.
The Lancers extended their lead in the second with Cameron’s first goal on the year, with Austin Goldstein and Will Lawrence picking up helpers.
And they seemed to all but snuff out CM’s comeback hopes with two early goals in the third. Cam Ferry marked his return to the lineup after being held out with a concussion with a goal at 2:44 of the third. Less than a minute later, Lancers captain Mike Iovanna scored what would prove to be the game-winner with a tip-in of point shot from John McLean III.
Then, midway through the third, it all changed.
“The problem is that we’re not used to playing with the lead,” MC head coach John McLean Jr. said. “I don’t think we’ve ever had a lead this year like that [four goals]. We made some mental mistakes that we didn’t make in the first two-plus periods.”
John Maher broke up the shutout bid of Lancers goaltender Alex Reissis (17 saves) at 7:11 of the third. CM freshman defenseman Frank Cosolito then drew the Knights within two goals with his first career goal. Less than a minute later, Liam Coughlin made it a one-goal game with his 22nd goal of the season, with assists from Sean Heelan and Cosolito.
CM (8-4-2, 2-3-0) played with an empty net for the final 48 seconds, but was unable to get a shot on goal despite having an attack zone faceoff.
Now, as the Lancers mount their late push toward a playoff berth, it’s all a matter of what the reigning Super 8 champions do with the momentum.
“We just need to keep rolling,” Cameron said. “Our ultimate goal is to make it to the Super 8 and this was a huge win for us, a Catholic Conference win.”
BACK TO BASICS
In recent weeks, John McLean Jr. has referenced the Lancers being “too cute” with their play. As a result, MC made a concerted effort to get back to basics in practice this week, coming off of Tuesday’s loss to St. John’s Prep.
The difference was evident.
“I thought we had a good three, four days [of practice] with everybody back,” McLean said. “We got back to doing the basic things. We got to the red line, we dumped it in and we did the dirty work. Tonight, we didn’t score on rushes, it was all about getting it deep, and working hard and grinding them.”
… AND A RETURN TO SCORING
Similarly, CM has been mired in a bit of a recent scoring slump. The Knights (0-3-2 in their last five) are now winless since their 7-4 win over MC in the teams’ first meeting on Jan. 8; and they’d been held to just five goals in their last four games entering Saturday’s action.
So, while falling short of breaking their losing skid, there were positives to be gleaned from the Knights’ three-goal, third-period outburst.
“We’re in a five-game, I don’t want to call it a tailspin because we haven’t played badly, but we’re in a stretch where it’s not going in the net for us,” CM head coach Bill Hanson said. “We needed something like that third period to happen, for a little infusion of confidence, for us to say, ‘Hey, this is what we are.’”