FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Make no mistake about it, No. 5 Catholic Memorial’s 5-2 win over Catholic Conference rival Xaverian Tuesday night wasn’t a one-man show. Even though, at times, it may have appeared as such.
Chris Stathopoulos’ four-goal outburst helped the Knights out of an early 2-0 hole. Three of his goals were of the unassisted variety. But it wasn’t just Stathopoulos who led CM to victory. A persistent forecheck, some clutch penalty kills and the consistent play of Stathopoulos and linemates Tom Barrett and Kevin McCarthy were the driving force behind a crucial midseason victory.
“We just came out and played hard,” Stathopoulos said. “It’s not an individual effort, it’s a team effort. So I went out there with the boys and we got shots on net and we put it in the net.”
The fourth-ranked Hawks responded to head coach David Spinale’s call to carry play early in game with two goals within the first two minutes of play.
Xaverian (7-2-1, 2-1-0) scored on two of its first three shots on goal. Greg McWade was on the finishing end of some pretty transition, taking Billy Hildebrand’s feed and beating Knights netminder Shane Starrett (17 saves) stick side. Ryan Hall followed less than a minute later, banging home a rebound from the top of the crease off of Jason Salvaggio’s shot.
CM (7-5-0, 2-2-0) also scored on its first shot of the game, answering with Stathopoulos’ first marker of the evening 2:43 in.
After a fast start, neither team could find the net – despite some golden opportunities for the Knights to tie the game – until the nine-minute mark of the second period, when Barrett scored with assists from McCarthy and Stathopoulos.
“That line has really played terrific and they’ve carried for two games,” CM head coach Bill Hanson said of his second line.
As in the teams’ first meeting of the season, a 3-2 Xaverian win, Hawks goaltender Dave Michaels (32 saves) was again strong in net. But that didn’t stop Stathopoulos from taking over the third period, when he netted even-strength, short-handed and empty-net goals.
However, Hanson was most pleased with his team’s effort with a man-down in the third. He’s self-admittedly changed philosophy, allowing his team to play more aggressive on the penalty kill to take advantage of his team’s athleticism. The changes paid off with three successful kills within a five-minute span midway through the third.
“I thought we beat ourselves,” Hawks head coach Dave Spinale said. “On that fourth goal, we were on the power play. We turned it over and then we came back in our end and gave up a softy. We didn’t have poise, we didn’t have composure.”
Hanson labeled the game a “must-win” for the Knights, noting his team can match No. 2 Malden Catholic in the win column in the Catholic Conference standings with a victory over the Lancers on Saturday (2 p.m. at Walter Brown).
And while one player might have shouldered the load during last night’s test, the most encouraging sign was effort starting with his second line and permeating the roster — something Hanson knows is paramount if the Knights are to make a deep postseason run.
“I told the kids, just because one guy scored four goals, that doesn’t mean that he won the game,” Hanson said. “The whole team played terrific.”