Monday, March 12, 2018

BC High Outlasts Hingham, Pushes Harbormen to Brink of Elimination

By Jake Levin (@JakeLevin09)

Lowell, Mass. - Thomas Kramer’s dormant status could only mean an explosion was brewing.

One of the top forward’s in the state, Kramer missed the net entirely on a penalty shot with just 3.2 seconds to go in the first period, and fanned on a one-timer opportunity in the middle of the second period. On each occasion, the No. 2 BC High Eagles were trailing the No. 4 Hingham Harbormen by a goal.

Kramer’s eruption in the third period came at a perfect time, knotting the game at two-apiece. It set the stage for two more Eagle goals in the final frame to dispatch the Harbormen, and advance BC High to the TD Garden for the first time since 2012 with a 4-2 win on Monday night at the Tsongas Center.

“Today’s a perfect example, a microcosm of our season,” BC High head coach John Flaherty said after the game. “Down by a goal, we tie it. Down by a goal, we go on to score three. I’m proud of our guys. We’ll take tomorrow off and get back to work and see who we play on Sunday.”

The Eagles (18-4-1) surrendered a pair of power play goals to Hingham (14-5-6), the first of which came at the end of a furious passing sequence at 11:05 of the first period. Will Kenney was left all alone in the attacking zone to beat BC High netminder Luke Garrity for the all-important first goal of the game.

Bouncing back the first time was no issue for the Eagles, when Joseph Kramer buried a puck past Robbie Kornack at 8:51 of the second.

But the degree of difficulty for a second rally sure looked larger in the face of a Sean Healy major penalty with 59 seconds left in the second period, giving Hingham a five-minute power play on which it could theoretically score an endless amount of goals.

While BC High survived the first portion of the penalty and headed to the locker room tied at 1-all, Jake Higgins had plenty of space from the point to launch a laser by Garrity just 52 seconds into the third period.

“We know they have a deadly power play, and the goal was not to take penalties,” Flaherty said. “We didn’t do that, but when you’re playing a tough, physical team like Hingham you’re going to have some of those hiccups. I liked our 5-on-5 play, but I also liked how we were able to capitalize when we had our power play.”

The power play Flaherty alluded to came not long after Higgins’ goal which gave the Harbormen a 2-1 lead. Jake Quilty took a major penalty of his own before the five minutes on Healy was up, negating the remainder of Hingham’s advantage and leaving the Eagles with an abbreviated power play on the back end.

The shortened sequence didn’t matter for BC High, as Kramer found enough time to get a shot off on a feed from Michael Dunderdale at 6:06 of the third to tie the game.

“Thomas is a gamer,” Flaherty said. “He wants to do well for his teammates and he owns it when things don’t go his way. But he’s played well for us all season long and I’m happy he got the bounces he got. He earned the bounces he got.”

Momentum back on the side of the Eagles, Mike Adamson scored the goal which put BC High back on top for good at 8:41.

Kornack left his crease with just under two minutes to go in regulation, and after some initially promising zone time for the Harbormen, Thomas Kramer broke free and tacked on an empty netter to clinch it for the Eagles.

“The school hasn’t been to the final in a while, we kept losing in the semifinal,” Kramer noted after the game. “This is big.”

BC High, which has won four Super Eight titles in all, hasn’t taken home the crown altogether since 2007.

Kramer added that he wasn’t overly concerned with his pair of missed opportunities earlier in the game, having faith in both himself and his teammates to rebound.

“I knew that wasn’t going to affect us in the long run,” Kramer said. “I knew we were going to come back and win.”

It’s entirely possible BC High will see Hingham again, as the Harbormen hope Wednesday night’s showdown with the Pope Francis Cardinals is merely a detour for their first trip to the Garden since 2015 (in the Division 1 title game).

Hingham, which hasn’t played for a Super Eight title since 2010 (which it won, 1-0 over Catholic Memorial), skated to a 2-2 tie with Pope Francis on Feb. 3 at the Olympia Center in West Springfield.

“I think it’ll definitely help,” Harbormen head coach Tony Messina said. “The kids have confidence they can play with them. They have dynamic forwards, they really do. When they transition back the other way, it’s like BC [High].”

The Cardinals are on a revenge tour after being relegated to the No. 10 seed in the Super Eight. After winning the play-in round vs. the Arlington Spy Ponders, Pope Francis fell to BC High in the first round of the Super Eight. But since then, it has eliminated the top-seeded Central Catholic Raiders, 4-1, on Saturday and took out the third-seeded St. John’s Prep Eagles, 5-1, prior to tonight’s Hingham-BC High game.

“They’re fast, they have a lot of transition speed,” Messina said of the Cardinals. “Make sure we get pucks in deep so they have to go 200 feet. Block a lot of shots.”

Weather permitting, Hingham and Pope Francis will play on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. back at the Tsongas Center.

“When you play our schedule and you play the teams we play, you’re bound to see them at the end of the year,” Flaherty said.

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