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Sports

February 24, 2013

Central must take the tough road back to Super 8

LAWRENCE — Super 8 selection day has made for some very stressful Saturday mornings in recent years for Central Catholic hockey.

“Everyone’s sitting around on their computers and clicking refresh waiting for every update from our coaches,” joked Raiders captain Nick Gorski. “And this year was no different.”

Central Catholic once again received some great news yesterday, but will again have to earn its shot at another berth in the Super 8.

The Raiders (13-5-3) were selected as the No. 8 seed yesterday, meaning they will have to play their way into elite tourney, by taking on No. 9 Hingham (13-7-2) in one of two play-in games tomorrow.

“This is what all the work and sacrifice throughout the season is for,” said Central head coach Mike Jankowski. “This is something that you just never take for granted. The kids are thrilled, and it makes everything worth it. Now we control our own destiny.”

Central will face the Harbormen, who won the 2010 Super 8 title, at 5:30 p.m. in Stoneham. The winner advances to the Super 8 first round, while the loser will drop back and become a top seed in the Division 1 North tourney.

This marks the fourth straight season Central has had to take the long road. It won play-in games last season, 2011 and 2009 and lost in 2010.

“There is honestly nothing like the Super 8,” said Gorski. “The excitement is amazing. We want to do everything we can to make it.”

The Raiders had the best showing in area history last year, when they advanced to the semifinals before falling to eventual champ Malden Catholic.

The tourney features a different format this season in the opening round, which is now a best-of-three series between two sets of four teams. Previously, it was a round-robin format with the teams advancing based on goal differential.

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