LOWELL, Mass. -- With its penalty kill outscoring the Cathedral power play, Malden Catholic continued its hot streak by defeating the Panthers, 3-2, to take a 1-0 lead in their Super 8 quarterfinal series at the Tsongas Arena Sunday.
Lancers first line center Ara Nazarian led the way scoring two short-handed goals and adding an assist.
“Ara [Nazarian] is a very talented player, and he is dangerous any time he is on the ice,” Malden Catholic head coach John McLean said. “Those were two huge goals for us at the time because we had been in the penalty box for an extended period of time.”
The Lancers (13-6-3) made the Cathedral (16-2-4) power play a non-factor, as MC was 5-for-5 while a man down.
“It’s the penalty killers job, and we have worked on [the penalty kill] all year long,” McLean said. “I expect them to [kill of penalties], and everyone stepped up.”
Nazarian’s linemates supported his effort, as both Tyler Sifferlen and Mike Iovanna picked up two points.
“I expect that [kind of production] from them because there is a reason they are out first line,” McLean said. “[Iovanna and Sifferlen] are both going to some big time colleges, so that is what I expect out of them.”
Lancers goalie Connor Maloney rose to the occasion to help get his Lancers the win. Maloney made big saves when his team needed him, making nine third-period saves.
“You just have to stay focused and keep the puck out of the net,” Maloney said about the third-period pressure. “Being in those pressure situations makes me focus more, and it allows me to get in a rhythm.”
Nazarian and Sifferlen capitalized on a late first-period turnover in the Panthers’ zone. Nazarian forced a turnover and quickly fired a shot on goal, which deflected off Sifferlen and past John Liquori (21 saves).
“I pick-pocketed their player coming across the blue line, and I saw Tyler [Sifferlen] going toward to the goal,” Nazarian said. “I shot it and he got a good tip.”
Cathedral came right back early in the second scoring two quick goals as 22-goal scorer Peter Crinella and Artie Potter both beat Maloney, taking a 2-1 lead over the two-time defending Super 8 champs.
“To come back and score those two goals gave us a little bit of life, but unfortunately we gave up those two shorthanded goals,” Cathedral head coach Brian Foley said. “Those turned out to be the [deciding factor], we just have to do a better job of protecting the puck.
The Panthers then got a power play opportunity, but instead of extending their lead they lost it.
Nazarian scored back-to-back short-handed goals — with Iovanna picking up assists on both and Sifferlen with another helper on the second. The goals put the Lancers up, 3-2, which proved to be all they would need.
Maloney was the show in the third period, when Cathedral poured on the offensive attack, but the Lancers’ goalie stood tall making several key stops. A Casey Fitzgerald turnover put Cam Griffin in all alone with Maloney, but Maloney came up with the save.
MC was on the penalty kill twice in the third period, which included a Panthers’ power play inside of the final five minutes. Once again though, Maloney had no problems fighting off the Cathedral offensive attack.
“If we keep the shots to the outside, he is going to gobble those up,” McLean said. “ I thought he did a good job in the third period, I am very happy [with his play].”
Cathedral pulled Liquori in the final minute, but failed to get a good scoring chance as the defending champs locked in the win.