STONEHAM, Mass. -- There was no difference between No. 5 Austin Prep and No. 9 Archbishop Williams in their regular season meetings, skating to a pair of ties.
However, Wednesday night’s 4-4 draw between the teams at the Stoneham Arena was enough to net the Bishops their first Catholic Central Large crown since a share of the title in 2009-10.
It was all there for Archies (11-2-4, 7-0-3), which held a 4-1 lead early in the third period. But the Cougars (9-1-6, 6-0-4) came alive in the third period, scoring three goals in a span of two minutes, 25 seconds to pull into a tie.
“You have to be happy that you won the league, but it’s very disappointing,” Bishops head coach Derackk Curtis said.
He added, “Hopefully, we learn from it. You can’t get caught up in it.”
The teams traded goals in the first period (Nolan Vesey for AP and Mike Jessman for Archies), but the Bishops broke loose in the second. Archies claimed its first lead of the game at 2:22 of the second with a power-goal at Jake Reardon tipped home Kyle Leonard’s point shot. Ryan Dunn padded the Bishops’ lead with 22 seconds remaining in the period with Reardon picking up his second point of the game on the assist.
“In the second period, we got back to doing what we do well – taking the body, getting pucks in deep and cycling it,” Curtis said. “I though we carried the play.”
Archies was off to fast start in the third as well with Mike Davis stuffing a shot in shortside on a broken play 1:08 into the period.
AP took over from there. Just 36 seconds later, senior captain Frankie Candelino put the Cougars on the comeback trail and Jake McKenelley brought AP within a goal 24 seconds later.
George Sennott scored the equalizer with 10:52 remaining on a beautiful feed from Vesey (2 points) on the power play.
MINOR SETBACK, SUPER FUTURE?
While the Cougars ultimately couldn’t find the go-ahead and fell short of the league title, all wasn’t lost.
“I liked our effort in that there was no quit and we came back,” AP head coach Louis Finocchiaro said.
Finocchiaro admitted he’d considered pulling goaltender Elijah Harris in the game’s waning moments, searching for the go-ahead goal. But he was content to take the point and take his chances that his team’s resume to date will be enough to gain entry to the upcoming Super 8 tournament.
“We’ll take the point,” Finocchiaro said. “We have a very strong strength of schedule if that comes into effect when they look at us. …
“We have to finish. We have some games in front of us.”
SEE YOU SOON?
And with that, there’s also the possibility that the Bishops and Cougars could cross paths for the third time this season in next week’s crucial Cape Cod Classic in Falmouth. Both teams will play in the 8-team tournament which features six Top 25 teams and five teams featured on the Super 8 Watch List.
Archies opens the tournament with Waltham in a 5 p.m. faceoff on Saturday, while AP skates with Hingham in a potential Super 8 preview matchup at 3 p.m.