Jack Kennedy’s OT goal sends Pope Francis to Super 8 championship

  • The Pope Francis hockey team celebrates with its student section after Jack Kennedy's overtime goal defeated St. John's Prep 3-2 to send the Cardinals to the Super 8 championship game Wednesday at Loring Arena in Framingham. Pope Francis will face Arlington at 3:15 p.m. Sunday at TD Garden in Boston. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI—

  • The Pope Francis hockey team celebrates with its student section after Jack Kennedy’s overtime goal defeated St. John’s Prep, 3-2, to send the Cardinals to the Super 8 championship game, Wednesday at Loring Arena in Framingham. Pope Francis will face Arlington at 3:15 p.m. Sunday at TD Garden in Boston. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Pope Francis goalie Ben Zaranek faces a shot during the Super 8 loser's bracket championship game Wednesday at Loring Arena in Framingham. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Pope Francis defenseman Jack Kennedy, of Granby, moves the puck, Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer
Published: 3/11/2020 10:47:54 PM

FRAMINGHAM — Jack Kennedy hadn’t scored all year. The Pope Francis sophomore defenseman wasn’t even looking for his own shot as he circled the St. John’s Prep net in overtime of Wednesday’s Super 8 losers bracket final.

No potential passes opened up, so the Granby native turned on his left skate and unleashed a shot just inside the blue line. The puck skipped off the ice and past Eagles goalie Noah Dorsey-Sorofman to send the Cardinals back to TD Garden with a 3-2 win at Loring Arena 4 minutes, 57 seconds into overtime.

“I don’t know how it went in,” Kennedy said.

Pope Francis collapsed on Kennedy to hug him before racing to celebrate with its student section. The Cardinals reached the Super 8 championship for the third year in a row. They will face top-seeded Arlington, which beat them in the winners bracket final of the double-elimination tournament. The winner-take-all championship will start at 3:15 p.m. Sunday.

“It’s a fantastic end to it all,” said Pope Francis senior Logan Dapprich of Amherst.

The Cardinals (16-5-2) started the third period far from a happy ending. St. John’s Prep led 2-1, and Pope Francis leading scorer Ryan Leonard, a freshman, was in the locker room. The Amherst native took a brutal hit from the Eagles’ Patrick Moran with 4:02 left in the second and stayed on the ice. Pope Francis’ trainer checked him out, and Leonard went straight to the locker room.

“I don’t agree with targeting players. I thought they were targeting a freshman, which I would never do as a coach,” Pope Francis coach Brian Foley said. “Two guys coming at him solely to hurt him, I think that’s unnecessary.”

Pope Francis played the third period for Leonard. The Cardinals went on a power play with 13:24 left, then it became a 5-on-3 after Easthampton’s Connor Wodecki was shoved into the boards. The two-man advantage didn’t last long, as Dapprich found open ice with a clean look at the net. Kennedy slipped him a pass, and Dapprich tied the game at 2 with a one-timer.

“They didn’t cover me, and I just kept creeping in. The energy was electric,” Dapprich said. “We wanted to win that game for (Leonard).”

The Cardinals shook off a slow offensive showing in Saturday’s winners bracket final by scoring 3:04 into the game on Wednesday. Jacob Iby finished a rebound off a Kennedy shot to give Pope Francis a 1-0 lead.

“We had a revenge mentality,” Kennedy said. “The intensity was a little bit higher.”

The lead only lasted 21 seconds. Pope Francis went on the power play then it became a 4-on-4 a few seconds later. Ned Malolepszy tied the game for the Eagles with 8:25 left off a deflection.

St. John’s Prep gained the lead 9:07 into the second when Moran scored shortly after a faceoff. But Pope Francis goalie Ben Zaranek, of South Deerfield, kept the Cardinals within striking distance. He saved 25 shots, blocking three in a sequence with 6:21 left in the second. Zaranek also stopped a breakaway in the final 30 seconds of the period.

“As usual, played pretty solid,” Foley said.

Pope Francis didn’t squander the opportunity Zaranek and the defense afforded it.

“Pick up your teammate. Hockey’s the ultimate team game,” said Foley, who expects Leonard to play Sunday. “He’s won enough game for you guys, win it for him. They really dug down.”

Pope Francis and Arlington (19-1-4) have split three games this season 1-1-1. Their next match will decide the series and a state championship.

“It’s the ultimate rubber match,” Foley said.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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