BILLERICA — The good news for Central Catholic hockey is that its season isn't over. The bad news, however, is that its 2010 Super 8 run is.
"We wanted so badly to be in the Super 8," said Raiders head coach Mike Jankowski. "But, unfortunately, we arrived and couldn't play our best hockey when it mattered. We played well at times but, on the biggest stage, we didn't have one of our better games."
Despite grabbing an early lead, No. 9 Central Catholic quickly fell behind and struggled with penalties and missed opportunities on the way to falling to No. 8 Winchester 5-3 in the play-in round of the Super 8 tournament last night at the Chelmsford Forum.
The Raiders (13-4-3) now move to the Division 1 North tournament as the No. 2 seed, and open play tomorrow against No. 15 Medford (7-12-1) in Stoneham at 5:30 p.m. The loser of the other play-in game, Burlington, is the top seed and earned a first-round bye.
"A loss like this is so disappointing," said senior tri-captain Shawn Bradley. "There is nothing bigger than the Super 8. It was a good game, but we couldn't put the puck home and they just outplayed us."
Central had qualified for the Super 8 two of the last three years, winning a play-in game in 2007 and earning an automatic berth a year ago.
The Raiders have also struggled of late. They are winless in their last three games (0-2-1), although the other loss was to Super 8 top seed Catholic Memorial, and are just 1-3-2 in their last six contests.
"We played well in spurts tonight," said Jankowski. "We had good surges, but couldn't put three good periods together and missed a lot of key plays. You can't do that. But that has been something that's plagued us all season."