LOWELL — For one period, Central Catholic was flying.
The Raiders were skating with speed and purpose, dishing out hits and pin-point passes, and grabbing their first lead of the series on an Alex Lester score.
Unfortunately, that would be as good as it would be for Central.
“We came out and just played excellent,” said Raiders coach Mike Jankowski. “The first period was a great period. As good as we have played. But we couldn’t put the game away, and starting in the second it was different.”
Taking a one-goal advantage into the second period, No. 5 Central Catholic allowed two scores in the second period and struggled to regain footing from there, falling to Austin Prep 4-1.
The loss eliminated the Raiders from the Super 8 tournament, with the Cougars sweeping the best-of-3 first round series 2-0.
“It’s hard to describe how tough this is,” said emotional Central senior Lloyd Hayes. “We had a great year, but we just couldn’t make things happen in the (Super 8). We had our chances, and we did a lot of things right. But we made too many mistakes and we didn’t finish our chances.”
Austin Prep, led by goalie Elijah Harris of Haverhill and star forward Bobo Carpenter from North Reading, advances to the Super 8 semifinals for the second straight season, taking on top-seeded Boston College High School on Wednesday at the Tsongas Center.
Last night also marked the Cougars’ third win in four meetings with Central this season, a late regular season meeting the the two Super 8 contests. The Raiders took the first meeting 4-1 on New Years Day.
“It is always great to win a Super 8 game and advance in the tournament,” said Harris, who made 19 saves. “Now we are back in the same position we were last year, and that was our goal. Central is a tough team and we are happy with the result.”