TEWKSBURY — Not long ago, there was concern around the Central Catholic hockey team, following tough losses to Malden Catholic and Austin Prep, the Nos. 1 and 4-ranked team in the state.
But with the Super 8 selection and state tournament seedings now less than a week away, the Raiders continue to send a clear message to the local hockey world.
They are ready.
Led by five-point night for junior Andrew Robbins, Central Catholic delivered an absolute clinic on the way to besting archrival Andover 9-1 yesterday afternoon, less than 24 hours after upsetting perennial power Catholic Memorial, ranked No. 3 in the state by ESPNBoston.com, Monday night.
“This was a fun win,” said senior forward Kevin Regan. “I feel like this team is picking up just at the right time. Sure, we went through a slump. That happens. Right now we are playing defense, scoring, and we are playing tough. It is great to get a big win.”
With just four days until the state tournament seedings are announced, Central stands at 14-3-3 following yesterday’s victory, and with two games remaining this week, the Raiders are focused on one goal — a return to the elite Super 8 tournament.
“We want to be back in the Super 8,” said senior defenseman Conrad Jepson. “That is our goal every year, and playing in that tournament the last three years has been amazing. We want to return to the tournament, and we feel like we can do something and maybe even win.”
A berth in the Super 8 would be the fourth straight for Central Catholic, and the fifth in six years. Prior to Central’s 2007 appearance, no local team had qualified in the first 16 years of the tournament.
Heading into the week, the Raiders were seeded No. 5 in the unofficial state “Super 8” rankings, one of the last two spots that would avoid the play-in round, which matches seeds 7-10 in sudden-death games to determine the final two teams. The two victories in the last two days should bolster the case for Central, which has played the play-in the last four seasons, going 3-1.