Lowell Catholic players celebrate their thrilling 5-4 win over Scituate in the MIAA Division 2 boys hockey championship game Sunday at the TD Garden in
Lowell Catholic players celebrate their thrilling 5-4 win over Scituate in the MIAA Division 2 boys hockey championship game Sunday at the TD Garden in Boston. The Crusaders accomplished the feat in only the ninth season of the program thanks to a late goal. SUN/JULIA MALAKIE

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BOSTON -- Lowell Catholic's final ice dance of what has been a maddeningly marvelous March rumba through the state tournament was a hard-earned victory waltz with the state championship trophy.

With time running out in a title game that certainly lived up to its advance billing, sophomore Alex Graves scored a goal that will forever be frozen in time in the mind of everyone associated with the Crusaders' hockey team. It was an historic goal resulting from a pass threaded onto his stick by Nathan Donaldson with the precision of a Tom Brady aerial.

Graves scored the biggest goal of his life with 1:06 left and it lifted the Crusaders' to the biggest win in program history, a thrilling 5-4 victory over Scituate in the MIAA Division 2 boys hockey state final at the TD Garden.

"It's amazing," said Graves, who scored two goals. "It's the best feeling in the world. I wouldn't trade this moment for anything. I couldn't have done it without my teammates."

Donaldson paced the offense with a goal and two assists. Mitch Andrea and Connor Doherty had a goal and assist each.

Lowell Catholic, which moved up from Division 3 this winter, ends it state championship campaign with a 20-2-2 record. Scituate finished 22-3-1.

The state crown is Lowell Catholic's first-ever in hockey. The Crusaders have only had a hockey team for nine years, and this state crown was born from humble beginnings.

"We just had four kids in the locker room who were on that first team," said Lowell Catholic head coach Tom Curran, who has been in charge of the program since day one.


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"This means a lot to everyone who has been part of the program. We started (that first season) in a place that isn't even a hockey rink anymore. We practiced on a half rink because we only had eight skaters and a goalie so we didn't need full ice.

"We got pounded the first year. Pounded a lot the second year. And then got better after that. But it doesn't seem that long ago that we were doing that. And here we are."

On the winning goal, Donaldson dished the puck off the wing and hit Graves in stride. Graves gathered in the pass, broke in alone and snapped a shot into the upper right corner of the net.

"I saw Alex heading to the net," said Donaldson. "Their 'D' came over a little, and I was able to give him a good pass. He was able to finish it for us. When he scored, it was just the most amazing feeling."

Scituate made the Crusaders work for the title. Lowell Catholic took a 3-1 lead into the third period. But Scituate evened the score 3-3.

Lowell Catholic took a 4-3 lead on Doherty's goal. Scituate again came back and knotted the score, 4-4, with 6:01 remaining.

With the momentum seemingly in Scituate's favor, Lowell Catholic did what it has done all postseason -- go out and make a play worthy of securing a state championship.

"One of our sayings is keep chopping wood," said Crusader senior goalie Steve D'Urso, who made 22 saves. "When you are down you have to keep going at it and pushing forward. That's wh at we did. That's what makes us a state championship hockey team.

"This win means so much. That banner will be hanging (in Lowell Catholic's) gym forever. So our season will never technically end because any time you walk in the school you'll be able to see the state championship banner. No matter what we're state champs for life. That is the best feeling."

After Scituate took a 1-0 lead, Lowell Catholic received a first-period goal from Graves, and second-period tallies from Donaldson and Mitch Andrea to take a 3-1 lead. Mikas Kulbis-Marino had two assists. Michael Andrea also chipped in with an assist.

Lowell Catholic also received outstanding efforts on defense from Andrius Kulbis-Marino, Michael Talbot, Cam Pereira and Micheal Andrea.

"The kids just kept battling," said Curran. "They've been like that all year. They know if we just keep playing, we're going to be in good shape in the long run. We did that today against a real good Scituate club and they were rewarded."

With a state championship.

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