NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- The mathematics were simple enough for St. John’s (Shrewsbury). Win by two or more goals over BC High in yesterday’s third round of the Super 8 Tournament and you have a chance of extending your season into the crossover round.
Things were looking good for the Pioneers after two periods as they held a one-goal lead. But in the game of hockey things can turn on a dime. Tom Besinger, on the power play, tied the game for Eagles at 12:09 of the third after stuffing in his own rebound. With nothing decided after 45 minutes, this contest moved into an extra frame where BC High would go on to prevail 3-2.
"It was a great effort by us," Eagles head coach John Flaherty said. "St. John's is a very good hockey team. We were ahead 1-0 and they came back to go ahead. We could've packed it in at that point but we didn't. I'm proud of our kids' effort and resilience."
Senior forward Matt Sullivan notched the game-winner at 6:02 of overtime after stealing the puck away from Chris Coveney inside the St. John’s zone and flicked wrist shot past goaltender Mario Pizzeri glove side keeping the fifth-seeded Eagles (13-5-5) alive to play another day as they move into the crossover round beginning on Wednesday. The eighth-seeded Pioneers finish up at 15-7-3. All three of their loses in this tournament were decided by one goal, two coming by way of a shootout and overtime.
“We were up by one after two periods and I asked MIAA officials coming into the third period if we had to win by two goals,” said St. John’s coach Brian Murphy. “At first they didn’t know but midway through the period they confirmed it.
“We’re really proud with the way our guys played. They played these teams tooth and nail right to the end. We were certainly in every game and did ourselves proud. It’s fun completion but just tough to lose.”
BC High led 1-0 after one period when Sullivan, on the man-advantage, put back a rebound at 6:45.
Knowing their season was on the brink, the Pioneers needed to get their offense in gear in a hurry. In the middle period they did just that. An unassisted goal by Kevin Emmerling (6:18) and a Jay Duquette one-timer (10:59) propelled St. John's ahead 2-1 moving into the third.
The Pioneers opened up the frame strong and a couple of quality scoring opportunities were turned aside by Eagle netminder Peter Cronin (17 saves). That, in turn, would lead to Besinger making two swipes at the puck in front of Pizerri (33 saves) with the second one trickling through for the equalizer.
"St. John's wasn't the same team we saw earlier in the year," said Besinger, whose club defeated the Pioneers twice during the regular season 6-0 and 7-2. "They seemed to have some good chemistry going on. We just knew we had to continue to keep crashing the net in the third period and overtime period and were able to do that and come out ahead."