Monday, January 15, 2018

St. John's Prep Outlasts Burlington; Other Notes from Middlesex vs Catholic Conf. Shootout

By Eamon Convey (@eamonconvey)

Woburn, Mass. - Continuing a fantastic tradition of premier high school hockey on Martin Luther King Day, Woburn’s O’Brien Ice Arena hosted the Middlesex vs Catholics Shootout Monday.

In the first game of the slate, two top-5 teams in Division I met when the (#3) St. John’s Prep Eagles (6-1-1) and the (#5) Burlington High School Red Devils (9-2-1) squared off.

Despite a 2-0 lead going into the final period, the Eagles allowed the Red Devils to tie the game, before scoring their second short-handed goal of the game to secure the thrilling 3-2 victory.

“I thought we played a really strong first period,” Eagles head coach Kristian Hanson said after the victory. “That’s pretty much where (the good) ended for us today.”

Early on in the contest it appeared as though the Eagles might run away from the Red Devils after sophomore Brian Carrabes opened the scoring, courtesy of assists by his sophomore linemates Ryan Bradley and David Sacco.

Just a few minutes later, after putting themselves on the penalty kill with a slash assessed to Eagles’ freshman Zack McKennelly, senior captain Ryan Farrow took a feed from sophomore Pat Moran and senior Evan Beers in on goal, put a nasty deke on BHS senior captain goalie Paul Barbieri, and scored five-hole for a 2-0 Eagles lead.

If the Eagles first-period offense gave the team its lead, then the defense equally ensured the team remained on top. SJP skaters blocked four Red Devils shots in the opening period and helped set the tone for the rest of the contest.

“We got that two nothing lead and we kind of controlled the first period,” Hanson said. “We (thought) we were a better team, we don’t need to play hard, we don’t need to work systems, we can kind of do our own thing, freelance a little bit. Burlington is a really well-coached, hard-working and disciplined team that is going to fight to the end. Our guys didn’t bring that same mindset (in the second and third) today.”

At the end of the second period and with the Eagles threatening once again, Red Devils’ senior captain goalie Paul Barbieri made a pair of fantastic saves to keep his team within striking distance.

The third period didn’t go much better for SJP, which watched as Burlington’s senior captain Frankie Bonanno cleaned up a rebound ceded by Eagles’ goalie Cam Ludwig to get the Red Devils within one score. After sophomore Jack Pascucci went off for elbowing, things went from bad to worse for the Eagles, as senior captain Tim Usalis was assessed a five-minute major for boarding.

Just seven seconds into that 5-on-3 power play for the Red Devlis, Bonanno unleashed a blistering wrist-shot that was tipped home by fellow senior captain Jeff Russo to tie the game in miraculous fashion.

“Yeah, it was a big momentum switch,” Lombard said. “We had a two nothing lead in the third, they battled back, and the crowd was into it. We had to call a time out and settle down. But I was really proud of the way we did settle down in that last minute.”

After that time out by Hanson, the Eagles returned to the ice and remained on the penalty kill for the remainder of the game.

“Our special teams were good, they’ve been strong all year,” Hanson said. “It is about being disciplined and taking advantage of the chances you get.”

33 seconds after the Red Devils tied the game, the Eagles — still on the penalty as a major penalty continues regardless of opponent goal-scoring — created a game-winning goal thanks to a fantastic pass from Beers to senior Seamus Lombard who took SJP’s first shot of the period and beat Barbieri. Senior captain Matty Tighe made the initial pass that sprung his teammates for a 2-on-1 scoring chance. 

“I saw the 2-on-1 develop as we were breaking it out,” Lombard said. “I knew Beersy was with me, so I just put my head down and went to the net. He saw me, was able to get it onto my stick and I didn’t even mean to shoot it like that but it went in.”

Once again it was the Eagles’  offense that put the team ahead and it was the defense plus goaltending on the back end that ensured the victory for SJP.

“That goal at the end there by Seamus, on the feed from Evan was a great goal,” Hanson said. “On the other hand, if is doesn’t go in, we get two guys caught up ice and maybe (BHS) goes back up ice with numbers. We just have to be a little smarter with the puck overall.”

The Eagles blocked several more shots in the final minute and a half, got timely stops from Ludwig, and preserved the sensational 3-2 victory.

“That is the craziest game I’ve been involved in personally,” Lombard said. “Easily.”

(#8) Xaverian Brothers High School (5-3-1) vs Winchester High School

Anyone outside of the town of Winchester was shocked to see the Hawks fall to the Sachems, 3-0. Rob Falso (G, A) got the scoring started in the first period for the Sachems courtesy of Ian Wilson (A) and Joe Lepore (A). Then it was a pair of third-period goals that put the Hawks away for good. First, James Riley (G) potted an unassisted goal and finally, Mike Drew (G) scored on a feed from Falso to seal the upset victory.

(#4) BC High (7-3-1) vs (#12) Reading High School (6-3-0)

In what would have been considered the day's “co-main event,” the Eagles handled business early and often against a scrappy Rockets team. In the first it was Danny O’Connell (2G, A) from Sean Healy (A), Joe Dragon (2G, A) from O’Connell and Pete Kramer (A), and finally, Dragon from Mikey Adamson (A) and Thomas Kramer (G, A).

In the second, the Eagles’ O’Connel potted his second from Dragon, the Rockets’ Dan Cranitch (G) scored from Nick McFarland (A). In the final period, the Eagles’ Thomas potted his lone goal from Michael Grant (A). The Rockets scored the final goal of the game courtesy of Matt Fiorenza (G) from Matt Farwell (A).

(#16) Catholic Memorial (3-4-2) vs Belmont High School (5-2-4)

Catholic Memorial continued to flounder today, but also credit the fight of the Marauders as a reason for the 1-1 finish. BHS goalie Kevin Dacey stood on his head the entire night and Rizzuto potted the only goal for Belmont.

(#15) Malden Catholic (2-4-2) vs Wilmington High School (3-5-0)

Despite a relatively disappointing start to the season, Malden Catholic has picked up the pace and secured its second win of the year with 2-0 result in the finale of the MLK Day Middlesex vs Catholics Shootout. Wilmington will exclude this result for its tournament record.

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