Late in the third period of its Super 8 elimination contest against Burlington, Pope Francis held a one-goal lead.
The Cardinals, however, were not about to start celebrating. They first had to deal with a defensive zone face-off and a Red Devils squad bolstered by an extra skater after pulling its goalie.
Despite the daunting task, freshman goalie Ben Zaranek kept Burlington out of the net, backstopping Pope Francis to a 3-2 victory on Sunday night at Chelmsford Forum in Billerica.
“[Zaranek] just doesn’t get rattled, it’s amazing composure for a freshman who didn’t play a lot in the regular season,” said head coach Brian Foley. “He played the bulk of the JV games for us this year, and he’s tough to score against.
“In the big games, he’s probably our most calm kid on the team.”
That calm approach paid off for Zaranek (21 saves) and the rest of the Cardinals (18-4-3), who move on to face the loser of Central Catholic-Hingham in a Wednesday night contest at Chelmsford Forum.
“I just try to play my game and do whatever I can to stop the puck,” Zaranek said. “Try to stay calm and make the saves.”
Pope Francis earned a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal in the first.
With the Cardinals up a man, junior Jon Tavella ripped a shot from the low left side of the zone past Paul Barbieri (27 saves) with 10.7 seconds to go in the opening frame.
After Burlington senior Nick Dellasanta potted a rebound chance to tie the score with 6:33 left in the second, Pope Francis quickly went back to work.
The tie was short lived as the Cardinals regained their lead less than a minute and a half after the Burlington tally on Max Cocchi’s snapper past Barbieri to make it 2-1.
The Cardinals found the dagger with 9:16 to go in the third on a wrap-around strike from Brendan Nehmer, his 100th point.
While Burlington (19-5) clawed within one on a strike from Jeff Russo with six minutes remaining, Zaranek remained poised in net, turning aside the last-chance bids from the Red Devils.
St. John’s (Shrewsbury) 3, Andover 2 — Senior Will Horrigan held his stick over his head in frustration after being denied on a great chance early in overtime of the Super 8 elimination game.
Two and a half minutes later, the assistant captain got another opportunity to assure his team advanced when a rebound popped right to him on a two-on-one with classmate Nick Palermo. With the goalie out of position, Horrigan had one thing on his mind.
“Don’t miss the net,” the senior said.
Horrigan did not disappoint, one-timing the rebound into the cage to help St. John’s Shrewsbury eliminate Sunday night at Chelmsford Forum.
“When it was coming at me I didn’t think, I just shot it,” Horrigan said. “Probably the biggest goal I’ve ever scored, but it was unbelievable.”
The win means that St. John’s (15-7-3) will play the loser of the St. John’s Prep-BC High game; that elimination contest will get underway Wednesday night at Chelmsford Forum.
“One of the things we did during the last four days of practice was go, at the end of practice, with the four-on-fours, and the three-on-threes and the shootout,” said head coach Michael Mead. “That’s a big goal for Will Horrigan – actually I’ve coached Will since he was a mite, he started back in youth hockey . . . and we go from there, so it’s good.”
The Pioneers played their way to the sudden death frame despite never leading in the contest, though they stayed close to Andover (13-7-2) by scoring quickly after the Warriors netted their tallies.
After senior Caeden Dillman opened the scoring with a point shot on the power play for Andover, St. John’s fought back with a goal coming 3:33 after the strike.
With 4:22 to go in the opening period, sophomore Hunter DiGregorio tipped a shot from the high slot that redirected over the right shoulder of Andover’s Cole Chingris (27 saves). The original drive came from DiGregorio’s older brother, Dakota.
Early in the third, both teams traded impressive wrist shot goals in the first two minutes. Andover senior Michael Reilly started the back-and-forth by unleashing a lethal strike from the high slot on the power play.
Fifty-one seconds later, sophomore Griffin Burns tied the score for the Pioneers, rifling one past Chingris with a shot from the left face-off dot that dinged the post before tumbling into the net.
Senior Corey Spaline (28 saves) kept the Pioneers in the contest, saving their season with a sprawling overtime save just moments before St. John’s ended the game on the ensuing sequence.
Division 1 South
Marshfield 3, Barnstable 2 — Cole McKenzie, Kevin Moriarty and Chris Sullivan all scored as the Rams (13-5-6) never trailed in their quarterfinal matchup at Gallo Arena in Bourne. Colby Howell and Zach Carpenter both found the back of the net in the loss for the Red Raiders (10-9-3).
Division 2 South
Taunton 4, Nauset 3 — Jack Patneaude scored with 3:37 left to tie it up and Will Walsh (2 goals) potted the overtime winner as the Tigers (13-7-2) advanced to the D2 South semifinals.
Plymouth South 2, Medway 1 — Matty Peckham scored with less than a second remaining in the third period to lift the Panthers (17-3-2) to a quarterfinal victory at Gallo Arena.
Division 3 North
Wayland 5, Cambridge 2 — Captain Mike Jones scored twice, including an empty-netter, as the Warriors (11-8-3) scored four goals in the final 4:01 to advance to the North semifinals.
Saint Joseph Prep 4, Newton South 1 — Andrew Stefura tallied three goals and an assist as the Phoenix (14-6-1) picked up a win at Ryan Rink in the Division 3 North quarterfinals.
Lynn Classical/English 3, Shawsheen 2 — Brian Clougherty fired home the winning goal just 30 seconds into overtime to lift the Jets (13-5-4) to a quarterfinal victory.
Division 3 South
Rockland 3, Coyle & Cassidy 2 — Joe Campanile netted the equalizer with 26 seconds left in the third period and Dan McHugh (2 goals) scored the overtime winner as the third-seeded Bulldogs (18-2-3) rallied with three unanswered goals for the first-round win in Bourne.
Lawrence Academy 5, New Hampton 4 — Gunnar Fontaine scored on a tip-in in overtime to lift Lawrence Academy to the NEPSAC Piatelli/Simmons championship.
Brunswick 4, Thayer 3 — Jack Forrest buried the overtime winner to lift Brunswick to its first NEPSAC Large championship in program history.
Kimball Union 3, Salisbury (Conn.) 2 — Andranik Armstrong scored two goals as Kimball Union won the NEPSAC Stuart/Corkery Elite 8 title.
Andover 4, Melrose 3 — Emily Wagner’s short-handed tally proved to be the winner as the 22nd-seeded Golden Warriors (12-5-5) knocked off sixth-ranked Melrose (17-4-1) to win their D1 first round matchup. Andover advances to take on Austin Prep in the quarterfinals.
Braintree 2, Duxbury 0 — Meghan Stimpson and Nicole Norton each scored in the final 90 seconds of the second period to lead the 10th-seeded Wamps (17-4-1) over the seventh-seeded Dragons.
Canton 4, Walpole 1 — Junior Maggie Malloy recorded a third-period hat trick to power the Bulldogs (16-3-3). Senior Colleen Kelleher made 27 saves in the win. Canton moves on to face Notre Dame Hingham in the quarterfinal, a rematch of last year’s D2 championship.
Dennis-Yarmouth 2, Norwood 0 — Georgie Snow and Kayla McGaffigan produced goals as the Dolphins (14-5-2) picked up the first postseason win in program history to advance to the D2 quarterfinals.
NEPSAC Division 1
Nobles 2, Williston Northampton 0 — Lily Farden and Maeve Connolly scored as Nobles earned a shutout win to capture the NEPSAC Division 1 title.
NEPSAC Division 2
Vermont Academy 5, Rivers 2 — Chloe Aurard potted two goals as Vermont Academy won the NEPSAC Division 2 title.Lenny Rowe reported from Canton. For more highlights, go to bostonglobe.com/schools.