BC High knocks off Pope Francis in four overtimes for Super 8 title

For the Gazette
Published: 3/17/2019 11:13:35 PM

BOSTON — Same time.

Same place.

Same result.

Boston College High School edged Pope Francis, 2-1, in four overtimes Sunday night to claim the state Division 1A championship at TD Bank Garden.

Declan Loughnane decided the game with 5 minutes, 38 seconds remaining in the fourth overtime.

It was a hauntingly familiar end for the Cardinals. Pope Francis fell 2-1 in overtime in last season’s final. The Cardinals were attempting to become the first western Massachusetts team to win the state’s top hockey crown since West Springfield accomplished the feat in 1952, and had the fourth extra session ended scoreless, the Cardinals and Eagles would have been declared co-champs.

This time, BC High forced overtime with 62 seconds remaining. Last year, the Eagles got the equalizer with 52 seconds left in regulation.

The Cardinals remained alive after the Eagles hit the post with 2:58 left in the first overtime.

With 4:45 left in the third overtime Sunday, Makem Demers, of Wilbraham, went in alone on a breakaway, but BC High goalie Chase Congdon made the save.

Pope Francis goalie Ben Zarenek, of South Deerfield, was strong for the Cardinals. He made several outstanding saves and kept his team in the game.

“He’s very quick,” Pope Francis coach Brian Foley said. “I think he’s the best goalie in the state.”

This was the 11th straight year Pope Francis (nee Cathedral) has either been in the Super 8 or the play-in game.

“We’re losing some great seniors, but I believe we’ve laid a good foundation for the future,” Zarenek said.

Zarenek hardly played like a sophomore, instead he showed the poise of a tourney-tested upperclassman.

BC High’s Thomas Kramer attempted a coast-to-coast rush, but Zarenek rejected his close-range bid with 1:35 left in the first period.

Following a misplay at the other end of the ice, BC High broke free for a three-on-one break in the second period. Zarenek held his ground and wisely elected to play the shooter. He came out to cut down the angle and made the save off Aiden Carey with 1:32 remaining.

With Amherst’s Logan Dapprich in the penalty box for hooking, Pope Francis yielded the equalizer with 1:02 remaining in regulation. Joseph Kramer scored on a power play to even things at 1-1.

Peter Kramer and Thomas Kramer assisted on the goal, making it Kramer from Kramer and Kramer.

After BC High (20-3-2) scored the tying goal, the Eagles’ fans chanted, “Just like last year.”

The road to becoming one of the best high school hockey programs in the state has not been easy and Foley’s challenge was to select players from all over western Massachusetts and northern Connecticut. Those players included seven from Hampshire County, in addition to Franklin County’s own Zarenek.

The Cardinals’ roster included: Dillon Foster, of Williamsburg; Jack Kennedy, of Granby; Spencer Stewart, of Amherst; Connor Wodecki, of Easthampton; and Charles Wykowski, of South Hadley. Among the seniors were Foster and Stewart.

Cormac Hayes, of East Longmeadow, scored the only goal for Pope Francis (18-2-3).

“I’m proud of these kids,” Foley said. “They come from different towns, but once they get here, they bond and work hard to become a great team.”

Zarenek was at his best during the second period when he made some clutch saves. In addition to foiling the three-on-one break, Zarenek stopped a follow-up bid by Matt Lakos for his seventh save of the period.

Pope Francis had the edge during a tight-checking, fast-paced opening period. Hayes provided the Cardinals with a 1-0 lead at 3:04.

It was a hard-working goal by the Cardinals, who kept the puck in the Eagles’ zone to create a scoring chance. After Stewart took a shot from inside the point, the puck went behind the net to Joe Salvon, of Longmeadow, who centered out front to Hayes.

Hayes powered a shot past Congdon for the game’s first goal. The Cardinals nearly had another one in the waning seconds of the period, but Congdon came up big.


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