Recap: No. 6 Cathedral 9, Needham 0

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – High school hockey fans got their wish for a clash between Super 8 favorites in the championship game of Thursday’s Springfield Cathedral High School Tournament.

After Malden Catholic made quick work of St. Mary’s in the first semifinal, the host Panthers easily dispatched of Needham in the second semifinal, 9-0.

Cathedral scored four times in the first and five more times in the second period to allow the coach to rest some of his superstars in the third period.

“The kids worked hard and skated hard tonight. We had a game like yesterday [2-2 tie versus Bridgewater-Raynham] then today we put up nine,” Panthers head coach Brian Foley said. “We have the ability to score goals, but you never know when it’s coming.”

Defenseman Bryce Peritz had a big night on the score sheet, including the opening goal of the game and three assists. The big junior defenseman tipped in a long point shot from Quinnipiac commit D.J. Petruzzelli just 1:46 into the game to start the scoring onslaught.

“Bryce is a big kid. He’s a junior, one of our older kids. He’s been a leader for us defensively,” said Foley, the bench boss of a team with just one senior. “He’s improved dramatically, just mentally, playing the game a lot simpler. He’s been blocking a lot of shots and playing tough in front of the goal for us. He’s been very effective the last two weeks, especially.”

Holy Cross recruit Peter Crinella extended the lead to 2-0 at the 7:04 mark of the opening period. He roofed a wrist shot into the top corner of the net as he streaked down the left side.

Freshman Riley Prattson scored his first of three goals on the night as he circled from behind the net. He beat Needham goaltender Mike McHale above his glove with a laser of a wrist shot.

UMass-Amherst commit John Leonard connected for a goal on a nice setup from Prattson and Petruzzelli at the 12:18 mark of the opening period to give the Panthers a 4-0 advantage heading to the first intermission.

Cathedral scored five more times in the second period, including shorthanded goals by Dan Petrick and Prattson on the same penalty kill. The shorthanded goal gave Prattson a hat trick after he had already picked up the first tally of the period.

Leonard and eighth grader Devon Tongue also found the back of the net in the middle frame.

Foley’s team is a very young group, as evidenced by the goal scorers in the second period, with all in eighth, ninth and 10th grades.

“At this point in the season, no one is still a rookie,” said Foley of his younger players. “They’re playing older than their years. They’re really getting comfortable.

“Devon Tongue, especially, he’s really come onto the scene. Devon has made steady progress the whole season. He’s playing really, really well for us right now.”

Foley chose to rest senior John Liquori for the second half of the game, giving sophomore Owen Mastroianni a chance to see some ice time to close out the second period. Freshman sensation and Quinnipiac recruit Keith Petruzzelli came in for the third period.

Springfield Cathedral has tied Austin Prep and BC High already this season, but the Panthers see Thursday’s clash against three-time defending champion Malden Catholic as a pivotal contest in the team’s quest for a high seed in the Super 8.

“Every game is an important game,” Foley said. “It’s the last game of the regular season. It’s our tournament that we haven’t won in years. Malden Catholic is a great opponent. We’re going to be real excited to play [Thursday] night and give it our all.”

“We’re just trying to focus on playing Malden Catholic.,” Liquori said. “It’s a huge game to determine our seeding for the Super 8. We really don’t want to play a play-in game.”

Needham will face St. Mary’s in the consolation game tomorrow, a contest with a lot riding on it for both clubs. Needham needs a win to qualify for the state tournament, while the Spartans are still making a push to be included in the Super 8.