BC High and Pope Francis will meet again.
Spearheaded by a four-goal second period, top-seeded BH High skated by Catholic Conference rival Xaverian 7-4 in an elimination game at Loring Arena in Framingham on Wednesday, setting up a highly anticipated rematch in the Super 8 final at the TD Garden on Sunday night.
BC High won last year’s edition, 2-1, in overtime after tying the Cardinals with 50 seconds left in regulation. Pope Francis sent the defending champions into Wednesday’s must-win with a 3-2 win on Monday.
“It’a goal these kids set at the beginning of the year and they wanted to get back there,” BC High coach John Flaherty said. “It took everything. Xaverian was fighting for their lives. They gave us everything we could handle.”
Senior forward Thomas Kramer (2 goals, 2 assists) and his younger brother, sophomore Peter Kramer (2 goals) led the way on Wednesday. Peter one-timed a feed from Thomas at 7:38 of the first period, but Xaverian led 2-1 after one on a pair of goals from senior Matt Talarico and junior Riley Stanley.
The potent Eagles (19-3-2) offense responded. Sophomore John Logan roofed a slap shot and senior Matt Lakus converted a wrap around, giving BC High its first lead 1:08 into the second period. Junior Coleman Benson cleaned up an Aidan Carey shot attempt at 8:57 to make it 4-2.
“We came out a little slow but we got fired up after the first period,” Thomas Kramer said. “We came out hard. We started moving our feet and they couldn’t handle our speed.”
After Matty Ryan scored on a breakaway for the 10th-seeded Hawks (16-8-2), Thomas Kramer rebuilt the two-goal lead on a snipe with 40 seconds remaining in the period. Thomas and Peter each added short-handed goals in the third.
Hopkinton 8, Lowell 3 — For those who sauntered into Tsongas Center in Lowell a few minutes late, the sight of crooked numbers on the scoreboard must have seemed like a mistake. By there was no error, only offense.
A nine-goal first period yielded the Hillers (17-6-2) an early three-goal advantage, and they built on it to follow their first-ever South championship with a trip to the state championship game against Wachusett on Sunday at TD Garden.
“That was like a tornado buzzing through that rink,” said Hopkinton head coach Chris MacPherson of the first period, which featured nine goals on 23 shots, eight coming in the game’s first nine minutes.
Junior Sean Walsh lead the way for Hopkinton, netting a hat trick and adding a pair of helpers, all in the first period. The forward opened the scoring just 36 seconds in, tipping a point-shot wrister from captain Stephen Simoes. That strike was the first of three Hopkinton goals in the opening 3:29, including a converted breakaway by Walsh that made it 3-0.
The junior rounded out the hat trick with 6:25 remaining in the first and factored in to all but one Hopkinton goal in the frame. He added assists on goals from Tommy Hamblet and Kyle Rogers.
“One of our coaches scouted their goalie and told me where to shoot,” Walsh said. “He let a lot up low — like low blocker, low glove. And then after I scored five-hole [his second goal] . . . I noticed he was going down quick, and the [top] corners were open.”
“Great players play big in great games, and I actually said that to him right before the puck dropped,” MacPherson said. “And he stepped up, like he has all year.”
Hamblet net a pair of goals for the Hillers, with junior Will Quinlan adding the final two tallies.
The Red Raiders (16-6-2) did make it a game with a quick rally. Benjamin Asselin and Owen Goulette scored less than a minute apart to make it 3-2 with six minutes gone, then captain Thomas Hassett again brought the Red Raiders within one after the Hillers answered 12 seconds following Goulette’s strike.
“There was obviously some jitters from everybody, both teams in [the first] period,” MacPherson said. “We settled down after that, we didn’t allow another goal after that.”
Cole Thomas made 17 saves for Hopkinton while Patrick Cote recorded 19.David Souza reported from Lowell. Matt Doherty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.