LAWRENCE — The Central Catholic hockey team heard the critics.
After losing three Eagle-Tribune All-Stars, including their starting goalie (Kyle Williams) and top scorer (Ryan Daigle), from the team that advanced to the Super 8 semifinals a season ago, could this be a down season for the Raiders hockey team?
“Every year we lose the guys considered our top players,” said co-captain Nick Gorski. “Then people always start saying we’ll be a little down that season. But we just get back to work.”
If yesterday was any indication, Central — the No. 3 team in Eastern Mass. — isn’t going anywhere.
The Raiders exploded for three goals in just 88 seconds to start the second period, and at one point led by seven goals, on the way to blasting MVC rival Chelmsford 8-4. The Lions entered the game 6-1-1, while Central improved to 6-2-1 with the win.
“We wanted to make a statement,” said Central co-captain Mike Kelleher. “This is a very good team, so this win means a lot to us. We wanted it big-time.”
Whether it’s graduation, junior hockey or prep school, the Raiders have lost their fair share of All-Stars but have still made the Super 8 or the play-in game five of the last six years.
But each season, the Raiders have found a way to reload without rebuilding.
They responded to losing 2011 Eagle-Tribune MVP Tommy Evangelista to the Northwood School in Lake Placid by making the best run in area history a year ago.
“We lost 12 players from last year’s team,” said assistant captain Derek Vaillancourt. “I know we have a much younger team than we did a year ago. But we believe. Our coaches tell us we can do anything, and want another Super 8 trip this year.”
Kelleher showed again yesterday why he is possibly the area’s most feared goal-scorer with a natural hat trick. He scored his first goal with 1:32 to go in the first, potted his second goal just five seconds into the second period, and 1:32 after that scored again and the rout was on.