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John Leonard of Amherst assists Cathedral hockey

  • Peter Crinella of Cathedral, second from left, celebrates his goal against Needham with Dan Petrick, from left, Cam Griffin and Artie Potter Wednesday at Olympia Rink.JERREY ROBERTS

    Peter Crinella of Cathedral, second from left, celebrates his goal against Needham with Dan Petrick, from left, Cam Griffin and Artie Potter Wednesday at Olympia Rink.JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Peter Crinella of Cathedral, left, shoots while defended by Jon Katz of Needham Wednesday at Olympia Rink.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Peter Crinella of Cathedral, left, shoots while defended by Jon Katz of Needham Wednesday at Olympia Rink.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Johnny Leonard of Cathedral, front, moves the puck against Needham Wednesday at Olympia Rink.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Johnny Leonard of Cathedral, front, moves the puck against Needham Wednesday at Olympia Rink.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Johnny Leonard of Cathedral, front, scores against Needham Wednesday at Olympia Rink.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Johnny Leonard of Cathedral, front, scores against Needham Wednesday at Olympia Rink.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Griffin Dyne of Cathedral shoots against Needham Wednesday at Olympia Rink.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Griffin Dyne of Cathedral shoots against Needham Wednesday at Olympia Rink.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Nick Chaoush of Cathedral lines up a shot before scoring beside Shaymus Colman of Needham Wednesday at Olympia Rink. <br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Nick Chaoush of Cathedral lines up a shot before scoring beside Shaymus Colman of Needham Wednesday at Olympia Rink.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Nick Chaoush of Cathedral, front, celebrates his goal against Needham with teammates Wednesday at Olympia Rink.

    Nick Chaoush of Cathedral, front, celebrates his goal against Needham with teammates Wednesday at Olympia Rink. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Artie Potter of Cathedral shoots against Needham Wednesday at Olympia Rink.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Artie Potter of Cathedral shoots against Needham Wednesday at Olympia Rink.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Peter Crinella of Cathedral, second from left, celebrates his goal against Needham with Dan Petrick, from left, Cam Griffin and Artie Potter Wednesday at Olympia Rink.JERREY ROBERTS
  • Peter Crinella of Cathedral, left, shoots while defended by Jon Katz of Needham Wednesday at Olympia Rink.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Johnny Leonard of Cathedral, front, moves the puck against Needham Wednesday at Olympia Rink.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Johnny Leonard of Cathedral, front, scores against Needham Wednesday at Olympia Rink.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Griffin Dyne of Cathedral shoots against Needham Wednesday at Olympia Rink.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Nick Chaoush of Cathedral lines up a shot before scoring beside Shaymus Colman of Needham Wednesday at Olympia Rink. <br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Nick Chaoush of Cathedral, front, celebrates his goal against Needham with teammates Wednesday at Olympia Rink.
  • Artie Potter of Cathedral shoots against Needham Wednesday at Olympia Rink.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

WEST SPRINGFIELD — John Leonard and his linemates watched as the Cathedral hockey team’s top line scored three goals in the first period Wednesday night. But they quickly got in on the act in the second and set a blowout in motion.

Nearly five minutes into the period, the Amherst resident scored his first of two goals as the Panthers trounced Needham 10-2 in the first round of the Cathedral Hockey Classic at the Olympia.

Cathedral (16-0-4), the top-ranked team in the state according to ESPN, will look to complete an undefeated regular season in the final tonight at 8:10 against Malden Catholic (10-6-3). The two-time defending Super 8 champions defeated St. Mary’s of Lynn 2-0 in the other first round game.

“In between periods, we figured things out because we knew we had a slow first period,” said Leonard, who added an assist. “Then on one shift we put in two goals. We moved the puck well and kept our feet moving in the last two periods. We’d shaken up the lines a bit recently, but we went back to our original line this week.”

With Leonard charging toward the net, D.J. Petruzzelli fed him perfectly from the right wing. Leonard one-timed it through the legs of Needham goalie Sam Evans for a 4-1 lead.

“D.J. drew the defender toward him and gave me a great pass,” said Leonard. “The goalie slid over so that 5-hole was wide open.”

Leonard, a natural left wing, played some on the right side on the power play. His second tally came after he received a pass at the right faceoff circle. After deking past a defender, he roofed one on the short side for the ninth Cathedral goal with 4:46 to play.

“I saw something with the defenseman, so I shielded him off with the move,” he said. “The goalie was crouching down so I saw the glove side and put it up over him. I’m comfortable on both sides of the ice, I feel I can make a play from any position.”

Dominic Blad, the senior representative on the line, had a goal and two assists. Sophomore Petruzzelli picked up a pair of assists.

Backup goaltender Adam Mercer of Belchertown stopped all eight shots he faced. The sophomore came on with 10:03 left in the second period and gave way to third-stringer Owen Mastroianni with 7:37 left in regulation.

In seven appearances this season, Mercer has saved 91 of 96 shots for a .948 save percentage.

“It’s a great atmosphere around this tournament, and it’s always nice to play and for the team to win,” said Mercer. “Coming from a small town like Belchertown, not many people know you coming in, but it’s been a great ride so far with the boys. I’ve put in a lot of hard work over the offseason and during the year.”

Starting goalie John Liquori made two saves in 20 minutes of action. The junior allowed a goal to James Fisher on a breakaway 2:11 into the game for a 1-1 tie.

“We’re good friends and he’s taught me a lot,” Mercer said. “I try to help him any time I can if I see something from the bench. We have a really good relationship.”

Sophomore Peter Crinella had a hat trick for the Panthers, while senior Artie Potter assisted on four goals.

Freshman Matt Deloria of South Hadley saw a few minutes of playing time at the left defense spot.

Malden Catholic beat host Cathedral in last year’s tournament final. If the Panthers can earn revenge Thursday night, the top seed in the Super 8 Tournament would be a near certainty come Saturday’s seeding meeting.

“We’re in the top spot right now, which feels great, and we definitely want to keep it,” Leonard said. “We also want to carry momentum into the Super 8. Malden’s really tough, so we’d like to make a statement against them.”

Michael Wilkinson can be reached at mwilkinson@gazettenet.com.

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