NHIAA Boys' Hockey: Streaking Central beats Memorial
MANCHESTER - Little by little since suffering some serious injuries that ravaged the team, the Manchester Central High School hockey squad has been getting healthier each week.
With that health has come better play and on Saturday the Little Green brought it to a whole new level with a 4-1 win over Division I preseason favorite Manchester Memorial in front of a lively crowd at JFK Coliseum.
"This was the best game we've played all year," Central coach Brian Stone said. "It's been rolling nice."
It's the sixth win in a row for the Little Green including four over tournament teams. Both them and the Crusaders finish the regular season at 14-4 and will be the top two seeds in the tournament. Official standings should be released by the NHIAA today.
That means the two city schools can't meet again until the championship game on March 9, which would be a rubber match as they have gone 1-1 head-to-head.
"Both teams showed up to play. It meant a lot to both teams," Memorial coach Mark Putney said. "They put a couple extra home."
Cole Anderson scored two goals for Central and Ian Beliveau made 35 saves to preserve the win.
Anderson netted his first at 4:29 of the second period to make it 1-0 right after Beliveau made a big stop on a shot by Memorial's Jacob Boylan to keep it a scoreless tie.
His second made it 3-1 with only three seconds left in the frame.
"I knew there was little time left," Anderson said. "I just threw one in the middle and it happened to go in."
Devon Sprague of Central and Nicholas Burgess of Memorial exchanged goals before that to make it a 3-1 game heading into the second intermission.
The Little Green had the better of the scoring chances in the third. Trevor Malmgren had two great bids stopped by Crusader goalie Joshua Jacob (17 saves). The first was on a 2-on-1 about a minute into the period and the second was on a breakaway with 5:56 left.
Shortly after that Central got its final goal when Parker Anderson lit the lamp with 5:39 left. It came on a wrist shot from the right point through traffic that just slipped under the crossbar.
"Going into playoffs this is huge for us," Beliveau said. "It gives us momentum we're going to hopefully take all the way through the playoffs."