WEST SPRINGFIELD, MASS. -- D.J. Petruzzelli and Devon Tongue scored 24 seconds apart in the first period to give Springfield Cathedral a 2-0 lead that it would not relinquish to cap off an undefeated regular season.
Despite being severely outshot, the Panthers held on for a 2-1 win against four-time defending Super 8 champion Malden Catholic in the final of the Cathedral Hockey Tournament.
Leonard, a dynamic offensive weapon with a pro shot, sent what looked like a harmless wrister on net during a first period power play. However, the puck found its way through traffic, hit Petruzzelli's stick for a redirection and eluded Malden Catholic sophomore goaltender Kyle Casey.
Just 24 seconds later Devon Tongue, a '99 who doesn't get much playing time, but has some upside, banged home a Cam Peritz rebound sitting precariously on top of the goal mouth.
The Lancers cut the lead in half about midway through the second period right after killing a Cathedral power play opportunity. Jack Adams gathered the puck at his own blue line and sprung Nick Botticelli whose wrist shot beat Keith Petruzzelli high glove side from the top of the left circle.
Malden Catholic put on a late charge, ending up with a 29-14 edge in the shots on goal, but it was't enough. Petruzzelli, a '99 Quinnipiac recruit who is a prime candidate for the US National Team Development Program, shut the door the rest of the way.
Leonard was named the tournament MVP, but an argument certainly could have been made for Petruzzelli. The loss was Malden Catholic's first of the year. Cathedral beat MC last year in the final of this tournament, but still was pegged into the No. 2 seed. This season, with an undefeated record and more notoriety in Eastern Mass., Cathedral should get the No. 1 seed.
Head coaches and assistant coaches from Hockey East, ECAC Hockey and Atlantic Hockey schools were on hand to watch a game between the two best teams in the state. High school hockey certainly isn't as good as prep hockey on the whole, but having seen many of the top prep teams, there are only a few teams that Cathedral and MC couldn't skate with.
Prospect of the Game:
Keith Petruzzelli, a '99 committed to Quinnipiac, stole the show, making 28 saves to close the door on Malden Catholic and help his team keep an undefeated regular season record. He's big, he's quiet in net, he's square to shooters and he eats up pucks preventing second chances. His coach called him "the best goaltender in the world" after the game. Obviously, this observer hasn't seen every '99 goaltender in the world, but having seen many of the top '99 American goalies, there is not a better goalie in the United States at his age.
Cathedral's other top performers:
There is no overstating how good Johnny Leonard is. The UMass commit is incredibly dynamic with the puck and has a world-class shot. He has good hands and can really cut through traffic. He plays with an edge and is a threat every time he touches the ice... Devon Tongue, a '99 freshman who played as an 8th grader last year, gets third line minutes usually, but saw increased ice time due to Providence recruit Riley Prattson being banged up with a minor shoulder injury. He capitalized with a rebound goal, but was good away from the puck and is a good skater. When he gets the ice he's very good. He's a player college teams should be keeping on the back radar.
Malden Catholic Notables:
He was held off the score sheet and didn't have as many chances as he usually does, but Matt Filipe showed why many observers are so high on the Northeastern commit. When he gets going, he's like a freight train barreling down at opposing goaltenders... Botticelli, who plays on a line with Jack Adams and Brendan White, really showed off his speed a few times last night... Speaking of Adams, the big '97 is reportedly garnering interest from Union College as well as several other ECAC Hockey and Hockey East schools... The Lancers did their usual good job of maintaining and controlling puck possession. Two defenders in particular stood out. Senior captain Will Lawrence, a smooth skater, did a nice job with zone exits and distributing the puck. Matt Ciulla, a transfer from Dexter, had a nice night. He made several good pokechecks, had a good stick overall and was solid on gap control... Kyle Casey's save percentage wasn't good with only facing 14 shots, but he made the highlight of the night during the second period. He went post-to-post and stuck out his pad to stop a D.J. Petruzzelli bid at a score.
Around the State:
In other action Thursday night, junior Eric MacAdams scored in overtime to lift Austin Prep past Hingham, 2-1, in the championship of the Buddy Ferreira Classic. The game will go down in the record books as a tie, but the Cougars left Falmouth with the trophy. The one point should really solidify Hingham's place in the Super 8 while AP is locked into the No. 3 seed.
Burlington, another team likely bound for the Super 8, shut out Framingham, 2-0, in the championship game of the Cahoon Tournament. The Red Devils have one last game against Arlington today to cap off their regular season.
Fellow Middlesex League Super 8 contender Woburn has one last obstacle standing in the way of a possible Super 8 bid Friday night when the Tanners face Billerica in the finals of the Irish American Shootout.
Franklin, a bubble team for the Super 8, easily defeated Westfield, 5-1, in the championship game of the Cape Cod Hockey Showdown.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.