All season long, Springfield Cathedral has depended on its star power. Boasting four 40-point scorers, the Panthers entered the Super 8 with the tournament’s most potent offense.
Cathedral lit up the scoreboard once again Thursday night in a 6-3 victory over Duxbury at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, winning the opening-round series, 2-0, and advancing to the semifinals for the first time in school history. The Panthers will play Malden Catholic on Wednesday night.
Sophomore Johnny Leonard, junior DJ Petruzzelli, and junior Peter Crinella, the team’s top three scorers during the regular season, combined for 10 points (four goals, six assists) in the victory.
“Any way you mix up our top six forwards, we’re going to have two lines that score,” said Cathedral coach Brian Foley. “It’s the best offense we’ve had in many years. When they’re on, they’re tough to keep down.”
The Panthers opened a 5-0 lead after two periods. Three of Cathedral’s goals came via the power play.
“It was huge [to get out to the lead],” said Crinella, who had a goal and two assists. “They were desperate and that’s the hardest team to beat. We just tried to crush their spirits early and keep it rolling.”
Leonard (two goals, two assists) did just that when he opened the scoring only 2:16 into the contest with a goal from the right faceoff dot. Crinella made it 2-0 with a power-play goal off a faceoff to the left of Duxbury goalie Tucker Kelly at 11:33.
The Panthers (17-2-5) scored three times in the second period on goals from Leonard and freshmen Riley Prattson and Dan Petrick (2 points).
Duxbury (16-4-3) showed signs of life in the third period when Tyler Powers and Matt Saia scored in the opening five minutes to make it 5-2.
Crinella quieted the Dragons’ rally with an insurance tally at 9:23.
“Our guys didn’t quit. Our guys took us on a great ride,” said Duxbury coach John Blake. “I’m proud of our guys, proud of the way they played that third period and finished off the year the way it should be finished.”
Cathedral will quickly turn its attention to Wednesday night’s semifinal matchup with Malden Catholic. The Lancers eliminated Cathedral in the opening round of the Super 8 last year.
“That crushed us last year,” said Crinella. “[MC’s] a great team. Come playoff time, there’s no harder team to beat. They’re gonna bring it to us next Wednesday and hopefully we give it back to them.”
Austin Prep 4, Central Catholic 1 — With the first three opening-round series of the Super 8 already in the books as two-game sweeps, Austin Prep followed suit to advance to the semifinal round.
After a flat first period in which the Cougars (15-4-4) fell behind, 1-0, they clawed back and controlled much of the action in the second and third periods at the Tsongas Center, backed by a two-goal effort from Eric MacAdams.
“We were trying to take it slow out there, just trying to get the pucks, not really working for them” said MacAdams. “Coach [Louis Finocchiaro] came in [between periods], gave us a good talk, and we just went out there and started to play.”
Corey Webber set up the Raiders (16-5-3) with the first goal of the game, picking off a pass in the neutral zone before calmly skating to the left circle and planting a pass square on Lloyd Hayes’s stick.
The puck got away from Hayes for a moment but he was able to slide it across the crease, getting Austin Prep goalie Elijah Harris to the ground, allowing Alex Lester to bury it for a 1-0 advantage at 7:59 of the opening period.
However, it was mostly a Cougar feast the rest of the way, sparked by Jake McKenelley, who tied the game with a blast from the left circle, his second goal of the series.
With heavy traffic in front of the Central Catholic crease, MacAdams tilted the scoreboard in Austin Prep’s favor by cleaning up a rebound in front of Raiders goalie Colin Soucy (23 saves), punching home a point-blank shot for a 2-1 advantage they would not relinquish.
“We were trying to get pucks to the net all game,” said MacAdams. “[Cam] Russo got a shot on, it deflected down and I just batted it in, luckily.”
“Obviously, in the first period, I didn’t think we played well at all,” said Finocchiaro. “We get ahead, 2-1, and started playing with a little confidence.”
J.J. Layton provided the Cougars with some breathing room, rocketing home a power-play goal from the top of the slot at the 7:10 mark of the third period, and MacAdams collected his second of the game in the final minutes.
“It’s definitely nice to do it as a team,” said Harris, who stopped 19 shots. “After the first [period] I think we just needed a little push from Coach. The second and third [periods] were definitely better than the first.”
Austin Prep, back in the semifinals for the second straight season, will face top-seeded BC High on Wednesday night in Lowell.