MALDEN, Mass. -- Ara Nazarian and Tyler Sifferlen lost linemate Mike Iovanna to graduation, but the duo appear to have not missed a beat. Paired with new right wing Jake Witkowski, the two combined for five goals as the three-time defending Super 8 Champions from Malden Catholic demolished Rhode Island high school hockey powerhouse Mount St. Charles, 8-2, on Wednesday night.
“Losing Mikey [Iovanna] is a big loss,” said Sifferlen of his departed line mate, a UMass-Amhest recruit. “We played with Jake in the fall, and we had good chemistry with him. It’s good that Jake is filling in for him. He’s working hard and doing good with us.”
The Mounties, playing their fourth game of the season, were without their entire second line due to injuries suffered in a scrimmage against Austin Prep. Mount Saint Charles also got to the Valley Forum late because of traffic, but bus legs or not, the school from Woonsocket, R.I. was able to stay even, 1-1, with the skilled Lancers after 15 minutes.
“It’s tough for them,” said Malden Catholic head coach John McLean. “They came all the way up here with a lot of traffic. I feel bad for them. They’re usually a really good team, but they had bus legs all night.”
Malden Catholic sophomore Matt Filipe and Mount St. Charles senior Justin Trindade traded first period goals.
“We were a little nervous going out,” said McLean of his team’s first period start in its season opener. “I think the shots were 19-2 in the first. We had a ton of chances, but just didn’t finish. It was a little case of the nerves and starting the season out with new linemates.”
The floodgates opened in the second period as Sifferlen, the UMass-Lowell recruit, scored twice in the first 31 seconds to give the Lancers a 3-1 cushion. His first goal was a quick snipe from the left side nine seconds in.
UNH recruit Nazarian then added two goals, including a laser that went top shelf past Mount St. Charles goaltender Brian Larence for a 5-1 lead for MC.
Jack Adams scored another goal to give the Lancers a five-goal cushion prior to the second intermission.
“I thought we settled in for the second period. [Nazarian and Sifferlen] are both special players,” said McLean of his duo, who were responsible for four of the five goals scored in the middle frame. “They just know how to play. They compete every shift. They’re very skilled, and when they have a chance they usually bury it. They probably should have more,” added the coach.
Sifferlen scored his third of the night for the hat trick in the third period on a nice chip pass by Witkowski from behind the goal line.
Defenseman Nick Rolli banged one past Larence off a short feed from Filipe for the final goal of the night.
McLean and Sifferlen both stressed the need to stay focused and take it one game at a time.
“It’s a good win. We haven’t arrived yet. It doesn’t mean anything. We have a lot of work to do. The only thing I’m worried about is tomorrow,” said McLean.
“We’ve just got to go out there and play our game. Obviously we’re the team to beat. We know that, being the three time champs, and we just have to go out there game by game,” said Sifferlen.
Notes: A name that high school hockey fans will have to get used to hearing is Lynnfield native Matthew Filipe whose father played hockey at Northeastern. “Matthew Filipe is the next up and coming elite player. He’s a [late] ’97. He’s a big, strong kid who can skate. He plays a hard, mean game, but he’s skilled and can finish. He competes every shift. He’s going to be fun to watch the next few years,” McLean said. … Mount St. Charles, playing shorthanded and with bus legs, didn’t put up much of a fight after the first period, but coach Dave Beslisle believes his team will be one of the top three contenders in Rhode Island with Bishop Hendricken and La Salle Academy.