Sophomore defenseman Jack Kennedy traveled a circuitous route to deliver the goal that sent Pope Francis to a 3-2 OT win against St. John’s Prep Wednesday night at Loring Arena in Framingham and to their third consecutive Division 1A title game Sunday afternoon at TD Garden.
Still in search of their first 1A title, the third-seeded Cardinals (16-5-2) face off with top seed Arlington (19-1-4), the 2017 champion, at 3:15 p.m. It will be the fourth meeting of the season between the two. They stand at 1-1-1, including Arlington’s 2-1 win last Saturday that sent the Cardinals into the elimination round.
On the game-winner, Kennedy corralled the puck at the offensive blue line, carried deep on the right side, swung left behind the net and out to the top of the circle and snapped a shot that skipped on the ice and past Prep goalie Noah Dorsey-Sorofman, who was screened by Pope’s Jack Moltenbrey.
That concluded a heavy affair that saw Pope Francis lose star freshman forward Ryan Leonard for the game with 4:01 left in the second period after absorbing a big hit.
Junior Jake Iby’s rebound goal gave Pope Francis a 1-0 lead just 3:04 into the game. St. John’s tied it with the teams skating 4v4 at 6:35 when senior Ned Malolepszy, stationed in the slot, deflected senior defenseman Will Perry’s shot form the left point past the Cardinals’ junior keeper Ben Zaranek.
St. John’s regained the lead at 9:07 of the second period. Senior Evan Moore drew a faceoff back to Patrick Moran, who beat Zaranek from the left circle. Zaranek kept the deficit at one goal with 31 seconds left in the period, denying junior Jake DiNapoli’s breakaway bid.
Prep penalties 14 seconds apart early in the third period presented Pope Francis with a prolonged 5-on-3 power play and the Cardinals cashed in with 12:55 to play. Senior defenseman Logan Dapprich moved to the mid slot and snapped a low shot past Dorsey-Sorofman to tie it, 2-2.
Fourth-seeded St. John’s Prep finished a 14-5-5 campaign. Regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s title game, it will be just the fifth time in the tournament’s history that the champion does not hail from the Catholic Conference. Arlington is shooting to become the first two-time public school winner.