BOSTON – The only difference between Wednesday’s 2-2 tie by Springfield Cathedral and BC High and postseason hockey is the fact that are no ties in the playoffs. UMass-Boston’s Clark Center buzzed with a postseason pitch as two of the state’s top three teams battled for the second time this season on the Eagles’ Senior Night.
After dealing No. 3 BC High its first loss of the season in a 3-2 win on Jan. 12, Cathedral found itself playing from behind at two junctures during last night’s action. However, in both circumstances, the Panthers responded and showed resolve while running their unbeaten record to 13-0-3.
“To go anywhere, you’re going to have to be a team that battles through adversity,” Panthers head coach Brian Foley said. “We did a good job twice of coming back from a goal deficit.”
While Cathedral maintained control on play in the first, BC High (10-2-3) claimed the first lead of the game, as freshman defenseman Ryan Shea pinched in to collect the puck and score from below the goal line at 9:06 of the first.
The Panthers wasted little time drawing even. Eighteen seconds later, Peter Crinella potted the rebound from a Bryce Peritz blast from the point.
The teams went to the room tied, 1-1, but the Eagles reclaimed the lead in the second at Pat Kramer’s centering pass from Gretzky’s office found the tape of Tom Besinger. The goal at 2:49 of the second stood up till the third period, when Cathedral was again able to find the equalizer. D.J. Petruzzelli deked out an Eagles defender, allowing space for a 2-on-1 to develop down low. Petruzzelli then slid a saucer pass across the top of the goalmouth to a waiting Dominic Blad, who went 5-hole for the game-tier.
While BC High closed out the season series with Cathedral without finding an elusive second point, Eagles head coach John Flaherty felt his team had been acquitted.
“If that’s the number one team in the state, we’re as good as them,” he said. “We play a tougher schedule. I think we’re right there with them.”
WORK IT LOW, SEND IT HIGH
Cathedral outshot the Eagles 30-23, and the difference in margin came largely due to a strong first period by the Panthers.
Cathedral found great success working the puck down low, all the while drawing BC High’s collective defense to sag down below the faceoff circles. With the Eagles playing down low in “the house” area, the Panthers’ forwards then looked to send the puck back out to the points for shots on goal.
“[Matt] Foley and Jack [Williams], we know they can shoot the puck and we know they’re a focal part of their offense,” Flaherty said. “They were zipping it up and going D-to-D, so we knew we had to make an adjustment to try to take that away the best the could.”
The Eagles made their corrective adjustments and tightened up the passing lanes to limit the opportunities in front of Peter Cronin (28 saves) in the second and third.
YOUNGSTERS ON THE RISE
A couple of the teams’ youngest members made their presence felt on the score sheet.
Shea, who’s helped bolster the Eagles’ blue line all season with fellow frosh Billy Roche, netted his first goal of the season. Yet, at this stage of the season, the younger members’ contributions are viewed as compulsory.
“They’ve played a lot of hockey,” Flaherty said of his first-year defensemen, “so they’re not freshman any more.”
Flaherty added on Shea, “He’s a seasoned player, so we expect that more now even more heading down the stretch.”
In addition, Petruzzelli, a sophomore, might be playing his best hockey at an opportune time.
“His last two games have been his best two games of the year,” Foley said of Petruzzelli. “He’s really coming on strong. He put it right on [Blad’s] stick, he got it off quick and we were fortunate it went in.”