BOSTON — Both Malden Catholic and Catholic Memorial knew things would be different this time around and neither expected a repeat of the 11-0 drubbing the Lancers put on the Knights back on Feb. 14.
This one came down to the wire with Malden Catholic getting a late power play goal from senior Tyler Sifferlen who beat Knights goalie Brandon Collett after a great cross ice feed from junior John McLean. The goal was the second of the night for Sifferlen.
The Knights had a six on four advantage in the final minute with the goalie pulled but could not draw even and now trail the best of three series 1-0 as the teams get ready for Game Two on Wednesday night at the Tsongas Arena (8 p.m.).
“I thought it was an up and down game and I thought CM played great,” said Malden Catholic coach John McLean. “Tyler has been doing it for four years. He is a great player and a great leader and always seems to come up with big goals at the Garden. He is a character kid and he was in the right spot at the right time.”
The Lancers came out strong in the first period and got on the board when Ara Nazarian calmly cruised into the offensive zone and passed against the grain to defenseman Will Lawrence whose snap shot found the top left corner over Collett’s blocker.
CM would answer after being outplayed for most of the first period when Paul Hardiman banged home a pass from Michael Stathopoulos at the goalmouth to tie the game at one.
With a hard push to start the second period, the Knights took what would be their only lead of the night when Zach Sullivan found Aaron Clancy in the slot and the captain beat Alex Reissis over his blocker side.
Lancers Matthew Filipe had the answer just 31 seconds later with a highlight reel goal busting down the left wing, eluding a defender, and slipping one through the pads of Collett (22 saves).
Sifferlen was in the right spot midway through the second period when Nazarian found him in the neutral zone in stride and Sifferlen split the Knights defense pair and chipped the puck over Collett for a 3-2 lead.
“Ara just shot it up the middle and found me on the breakaway,” said Sifferlen. “It was just a lucky goal. It went over his shoulder. I think it went off his stick and went in.”
However, CM had the answer with under a minute left in the second period when Hardiman notched his second of the night after he poked the puck free from Reissis and buried his chance that tied the game at three.
Not lacking confidence: Despite falling behind 1-0 in the series, the Knights certainly put any doubts in the rear view mirror about the mirage that was the last time these two teams played.
After being outplayed over the first 15 minutes, Catholic Memorial outshot MC 24-14 over the last two periods and got a huge effort from Hardiman along the way.
“The past few times we have played against them we haven’t really got our offense going,” said Hardiman. “We thought we would just throw the puck on net and rebounds just happened to pop out to me.”
Both of Hardiman’s tallies took the Knights out of one goal deficits and that has the Knights feeling confident heading into Game Two.
“We knew what we had to do to play with and we just had to play our game,” added Hardiman. “I mean we are really confident going into the next game. Hopefully we can get a few more bounces.”
Big time player: While it was a “quiet” two-assist game for MC captain Aza Nazarian, it was a play in his defensive zone with time winding down that won’t show on the score sheet.
With the goalie pulled and C-M making their final push on a power play in the final minute, Anthony Pannagio had the puck on his stick, cocked and ready to fire into an open side, when Nazarian got his stick in the shooting lane and deflected the attempt wide of the net.
For a player known so much for his offensive ability, his subtle play on the defensive end saved his team from facing overtime.