Super 8: Catholic Memorial pushes past Braintree despite controversy

Catholic Memorial junior Aaron Clancy - Matt Dewkett (mrd-photos.com)

Controversy struck in the nightcap of the Super 8 play-in games.

Stoneham, Mass. -- Aaron Clancy's two third period goals lifted upset-minded Catholic Memorial past Braintree on Monday night in the second of two Super 8 play-in games at the Stoneham Ice Arena.

A perennial powerhouse in Massachusetts high school hockey, Catholic Memorial is looking to thrive in an unfamiliar role as the underdogs in this year's Super 8.

Bill Hanson's CM team backed into the field with an 0-6-2 record down the stretch, including a 3-0 loss in the regular season finale to the very same Braintree team it beat tonight.

"We knew coming in tonight that it would be tough to play [CM] twice in four days," said Braintree coach Dave Fasano.

The Knights were the beneficiaries of some puck luck on Monday night as two questionable scoring plays turned out in their favor and their opposition from Braintree clanged the crossbar twice.

"We didn't have that so-called puck luck tonight," Fasano said.

The game started in controversy with what appeared to be a Braintree goal was disallowed. Braintree's Brian Gallagher sniped a shot on a breakaway into the top corner of the net, but the referees afar conferring with the goal judge, ruled that it hit the post.

"That goal that was called back would have been a big momentum swing. It didn't go in, they said. We have to live with that and move on," explained Fasano.

Despite that unfortunate turn of events, Braintree kept the pressure on, and capitalized just a few minutes later. Defenseman Kevin Howard's blast from the point hit Gino LaRossa in front and found its way into the back of the net.

The game stayed that way until midway through the period, with Braintree sitting on its heels and CM upping the pressure. Clancy evened the score at the 8:25 mark, picking up a loose puck that had been blocked and snapping it quickly over the blocker of Braintree goaltender Nick Anson.

"Clancy's a good athlete. He scored a similar goal to tie the game against Fairfield Prep last week," said veteran head coach Bill Hanson.

Just over two minutes later Clancy scored the game-winner on another goal that was reviewed by the on-ice officials. The junior co-captain gloved the puck down just above the crease and banked it in off Anson from just behind the goal line.

"I tried to glove the puck down in the crease and put it in there, but I ended up getting bodied in back of the goal line. I ended up with the puck right on my stick and threw it right towards the middle. It hit [Anson's] blocker and went right in," explained Clancy.

"He's a real good kid, a character kid," said Hanson of his team's offensive hero. "His work ethic in practice everyday is outstanding. He challenges the other guys to work by his presence."

Puck luck was in CM's favor, but so was the outstanding goaltending of sophomore Brandon Collett. The '98 who has played with the South Shore Kings was instrumental in keeping the Wamps off the scoreboard after the first period. He also stoned several Braintree chances on the man advantage late in the third period.

"The thing that kept us alive the entire game was the play of Brandon Collett," said Clancy. He kept making big stop after big stop. That was huge," added Clancy.

"He played like he did last year," said Hanson. "Today's his birthday. He's as resilient of a young man as we have in that locker room.

"Braintree is a great team. I knew I had to keep them to a minimum to keep us in the game.

With the loss, Braintree will have to focus its attention on the Division I Tournament. "We're going to keep our heads high, get back to work tomorrow and hope to make a run in the Division I Tournament," said Fasano.

Catholic Memorial moves on in the Super 8 where it will face three-time defending champion Malden Catholic in the quarterfinals.

"I'm very positive. Anything can happen in the Super 8," said an upbeat Clancy.

"We're 2-3 against them in the last five games. [Malden Catholic] is very good and we'll be the underdogs for sure, but we're not intimidated by playing them.

Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.

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