NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- It was the Super 8’s version of when an unstoppable force meets and immovable object.
On one side you had Hingham, a team that has made it a ritual this season at finding the back of the net, scoring 72 times. On the opposite end stood BC High goaltender Peter Cronin. Regarded by many as one of the best at his trade holding down a miniscule 1.94 goals-against-average.
With these intangibles in place you knew something had to give in Sunday’s first-round contest at Merrimack College’s Lawler Arena.
On the strength of three power play goals, the fifth-seeded Eagles pulled away for a 4-2 victory. BC High (11-5-5) advances to the second round where it will take on top seed Malden Catholic Tuesday at a time to be determined. The Harbormen (16-5-2), seeded fourth, will meet No 8 St. John’s of Shrewsbury Tuesday, also at a time to be determined.
With the game knotted 2-2 after 30 minutes, sophomore forward Tom Besinger, on the man-advantage, opened the third by racing down the right side beating Hingham netminder John Grenier top shelf coming at 2:55 to give the Eagles the lead for good. It was Besinger’s second marker on the afternoon.
In the final minute, with Grenier (17 saves) pulled and BC High’s Bartley Regan in the penalty box for hooking, the Harbormen looked to benefit on their 6-on-4 advantage. But a blocked shot from the perimeter resulted in Matt Sullivan scoring an empty-net goal to close things out.
“In this tournament everyone is pretty even so anytime you get a man-advantage you almost have to take it and capitalize,” Eagles head coach John Flaherty said. “Fortunately for us we capitalized on our man up situations and propelled past a very good Hingham team. Right now we’re playing confident when we are a man up.”
After a scoreless opening frame things heated up considerably in the second period. The Eagles fired the first salvo just 0:43 in with a power play blast by Besinger from the right point over Grenier’s right shoulder to make it 1-0.
“I felt nervous on my first shift but then our line started clicking and we started getting scoring opportunities and started to put the puck in the back of the net,” Besinger said. “We played [Grenier] earlier this season [in the Cape Cod Classic, won by BC High in a shootout] and I noticed he dropped his blocker to the ice when you get in close so I knew I had to go high on my shots.”
BC High had little time to enjoy its lead however as Ryan Linehan, off a turnover, scored shorthanded for Hingham just 22 seconds later knotting things at 1-1.
But at 4:52, senior defenseman Brian Furey was able to push the Eagles back in front with a laser over Grenier’s right shoulder from just inside the blue line, again coming with the man-advantage. Grenier, much like Cronin, had been stellar this season with a 1.88 GAA.
“They scored on their power play chances and we didn’t,” Hingham head coach Tony Messina said after his club went 0-for-4 on power play opportunities. “We had great penetration and good control of the puck in their zone but they did a good job blocking shots and keeping stuff out on the perimeter.”
Yet again the Harbormen stormed back. Just one minute after Furey’s tally, senior forward Patrick Mannion caught Cronin (17 saves) out of position and stuffed a shot low right corner to deadlock the contest at two goals apiece.