Pope Francis Punches Ticket to Super 8 Final
Stoneham, MA- In front of a packed Stoneham Arena, Pope Francis scored a late goal to beat BC High 3-2 and punch the Cardinals ticket to the Super 8 Finals on Sunday. Senior, Jonathan Tavella got the scoring started as he beat a couple Eagles and fired one through the BC High goalie’s five hole to give Pope Francis a 1-0 lead. Nine seconds later, Tom Kramer (Bridgewater, MA) won the face off back to his defenseman, received a chip off the wall, and beat a defenseman one on one and slipped one through the Pope Francis goalie’s five hole to tie the game. The first frame ended 1-1 with both teams putting seven shots on net.
The second period was a bit of a chess match as both teams locked in defensively. Pope Francis did a good job of controlling the neutral zone which led to many icings and turnovers for BC High. With 6:44 to go in the second period and Pope Francis on the power play, the Cardinals broke the puck out going wall to wall in the neutral zone and finding trailing defenseman Zach Reiser who beat BC High goalie Charles Congdon (Hingham, MA) with a nice snap shot to give Pope Francis a 2-1 lead. Both teams had a few chances in the final minutes of the period, but both goalies were up to the challenge.
The third period was dominated by BC High for the most part. There were also quite a few penalties in the frame which disrupted much of the flow of the period. BC High’s forecheck was very strong in the third leading to Coleman Benson (Scituate, MA) forcing a turnover from a Pope Francis defenseman and beating Pope Francis goalie Ben Zaranek from an odd angle to tie the game 2-2 with 8:16 left in the frame. BC High continued to push, but Zaranek (24 saves on the night) was up to the challenge. Pope Francis made a push with less than three minutes to go and the Cardinals were rewarded. After an icing, Pope Francis won the faceoff back to the point. There was a blocked shot and the puck ended up on the Spencer Stewart’s stick at the blue line. He sent the puck below the goal line to Max Cocchi who found Jonathan Tavella on the back door who was able to find the back of the net to give Pope Francis a 3-2 lead. BC High had some big-time chances at the end of the game including a back door opportunity off a beautiful pass from Tom Kramer, but a Pope Francis defenseman dove across to block the shot. Pope Francis would hold on to win 3-2 and will face the winner of Xaverian Vs. BC High in the Super 8 Finals.
1st Star: Jonathan Tavella, Pope Francis
2nd Star: Ben Zaranek, Pope Francis
3rd Star: Tom Kramer, BC High
NZ’s Take: There was a good atmosphere at Stoneham Arena tonight. The officiating was good tonight ultimately letting the players decide the game. The MIAA once again did not provide rosters which is a shame with at least four division one colleges on hand to scout the game. Both teams play with good pace and skill, but the age factor is a huge reason why both of these teams are in this position with quite a few 2000s on both sides. Jonathan Tavella, senior forward for Pope Francis, was the best player on the ice tonight. He competed every shift, was hard on the fore check, and was dangerous every time he had the puck on his stick. He will be a nice add to a Prep team next winter. Ben Zaranek battles in the net for the Cardinals. He is not overly athletic, but he plays such a calm game in net and rarely gave BC High a second chance in front of the net. 2003 born forward Brandon Spaulding showed some good flashes of speed and skill when he got opportunities. He is a nice prospect for Pope Francis. BC High has the top line with the Kramer brothers. If BC High is going to win the Super 8 it will be on their shoulders. The younger Kramers compete hard every shift and have a nice skill set. They are a good compliment to Tom Kramer who is a game changer. Freshman 2004 BC High defenseman, Chris Romaine, is a good puck moving defenseman. He snaps a good pass and has high end feet. Much of the college buzz was surrounding Romaine tonight.
Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images