BOSTON--- Malden Catholic will go for its fourth straight MIAA Division 1A Super 8 championship on Sunday afternoon at the TD Garden. For the second consecutive year, Austin Prep will be the last team standing in its way.
The Lancers defeated the Cougars, 3-2, in last year's Super 8 championship game to earn their third consecutive title. John McLean's Lancers downed Louis Finnochiaro's Cougars, 4-1, in the Christie Serino Christmas Classic earlier this season.
There is an abundance of offensive talent on each team, but the wildcard could be between the pipes where Austin Prep has the decided advantage.
Junior Elijah Harris has been terrific throughout this tournament and made a name for himself during last year's Super 8 and at several showcase events over the summer, such as the Beantown Classic and the USA Hockey Select 16 Festival.
Harris will have to bring his best to the Garden ice on Sunday as UMass Lowell recruit Tyler Sifferlen and UNH commit Ara Nazarian will look to pepper the young netminder with rubber. Sifferlen has been red hot all tournament and Nazarian is always dangerous, and even when he doesn't score, his speed and quick release are a scary combination.
Malden Catholic's second line has been clicking as well. Northeastern commit Matt Filipe centers the line and has been a strength all season, but Brian Cameron and Austin Goldstein have impressed during the Super 8.
Looking to protect Harris and fend off Malden Catholic's big guns will be a big, strong Cougars blue line led by sophomore J.J. Layton, the hero of Thursday night's shootout win in the semifinal. The Peabody, Mass. native is a huge, physical presence on the back end. Andrew Cross and Brendan Leach are the two other AP defenders who will log the most significant minutes on Sunday.
Boston University recruit Bobo Carpenter gets most of the attention when discussion turns to the Austin Prep offense, but Eric MacAdams has been clutch throughout the tournament. He missed a portion of the regular season with an injury, but his ability to drive to the net and come up with big goals at crucial times has been imperative to AP's run. Cam Russo and Jake McKenelley are the two other offensive weapons for Finnochiaro's team.