READING -- It will go down in the record books as a tie, but Matt Thomson's second goal of the game 3:32 into the second overtime propelled the Reading Rockets into next Monday's championship game of the Bauer Winter Classic Showcase.
Arlington Catholic jumped out to a 2-0 lead on second period goals from Ryan Smith and Ryan Tierney on similar transition plays. Smith's goal 2:06 into the middle frame came off a nice lead pass from Anton Metelev. Smith streaked into the zone down the left side before cutting into the middle and beating Rockets goaltender Josh Caruso wide. Tierney extended the Cougar lead to two with 3:58 to play in the second. He beat a Reading defender to the puck before snapping a shot past Caruso.
Thomson, a legitimate Division I prospect whose brother plays for the New Hampshire Junior Monarchs in the EHL, cut the deficit in half before the second intermission. The sophomore went end to end before roofing a shot from the high slot to the jubilation of the home crowd.
A fortuitous bounce helped the Rockets even the score with 5:38 to play in regulation. Jay Gallagher slid the puck home from the right side after a weird bounce off the end boards. James Reilly and Alex St. Pierre were credited with the helpers.
After a scoreless first overtime that saw Arlington Catholic finish killing a penalty taken late in regulation, the game moved to a second overtime of four-on-four hockey. That's when Reading's dynamic sophomores combined for the game winner. Speedy undersized forward Kevin Tobin's wrist shot from the left circle was stopped but the puck bounced up over the glove of AC goaltender Matt Anderson. Thomson quickly deposited the puck into the back of the net.
Reading will take on Andover in next Monday's championship game. The Warriors were 1-0 winners over Billerica. Freshman Andrew King scored the only goal of the game for Chris Kuchar's Andover squad. Senior captain Nick Scarpa recorded the shutout.
Notes: Reading senior defenseman Mike Seibold continues to be an absolute horse for Mark Doherty's Rockets. Ice time isn't tracked in high school hockey, but it wouldn't be far fetched to say he was on the ice for about 40 minutes of the 54:32 played… Arlington Catholic is expected to contend, or at least be in the top three, of the Catholic Central Conference along with Austin Prep and St. Mary's of Lynn. The Cougars, coached by longtime bench boss Dan Shine, have two very strong top forward units. Seniors Ryan Tierney, Jason Smith and Ryan Spagnoli were the starters Monday night, but the other forward unit might be just as impressive, if not more so. Junior Andy Sommerville centers classmate Bernie McGovern and senior Ryan Smith. Keep an eye on AC this season. The Cougars will definitely be in the running for a Super 8 spot.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.