WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Generally, a good team makes a statement late in big games.
The St. John’s Prep hockey team took a different tact last night against No. 3 Hingham.
The No. 4 Eagles jumped on the Harbormen from the opening puck drop and scored a pair of goals in the opening period en route to a big 4-1 win at Ristuccia Arena.
“Hingham is always good,” Prep senior Brian Pinho said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game. Our game plan was to bring a lot of energy, get pucks deep, get on their D, try to get some pucks on the net and it worked out for us.”
The Eagles (2-0-0) made a nest in the Hingham zone early in the first and never left. They peppered senior goalie John Grenier with 13 shots in the opening 15 minutes and sent many more just wide of goal.
Pinho struck first on a redirection with just over four minutes left in the period. Senior Justin Longo scored 99 seconds later when he deked out Grenier and put the puck in the top shelf.
“I thought the first period was our best period of the night,” Prep head coach Kristian Hanson said. “We were able to score those two first-period goals and get off to a good start. We certainly knew at that point that 2 first period goals didn’t mean a win.”
Hingham (2-1-0) regained their composure in the second and turned the tables of Prep. The Harbormen seized control, but were unable to score. One chance early in the period left the puck sitting motionless less than a foot from the goal line before it was swatted away by the Eagle defense.
A five-on-three advantage midway through the period also bore no fruit for Hingham.
“It’s frustrating,” Hingham head coach Tony Messina said. “We have a lot of guys that haven’t scored goals before and it takes some time to learn how to do it. We’d like to have that first period back.”
After being outshot 13-3 in the first period Hingham outshot St. John’s 17-8 during the final two periods. Prep senior goaltender Billy Price stepped up and, aside from a rocket from Hingham junior Matt Brazel in the third, turned aside everything that came his way.
“I thought he played very well,” Hanson said of Price. “I thought he stayed composed and made some big saves. It’s only his second start at varsity, so time will tell how he’ll play down the line. Tonight we’re pleased with his performance and just go on from here.”
BRIGHTNEY AND PREP DEFENSE SHINE
When you play Hingham you expect to deal with talented players who can make big plays. However most teams don’t have the defensive depth that St. John’s Prep does.
The Eagles back six were able to contain the Harbormen for long stretches of the game and keep visitors at bay when the going got tough.
“We knew over the years that Hingham is a real physical team,” Prep senior James Brightney said. “They’re very fast so we knew coming into it that we have good speed but we’ve got to hit them if we want to keep them from scoring.”
Brightney and the defense were able to assert their physicality in what would become a physical game. They were also able to block passing and shooting lanes which broke up the Harbormen attack and played a big role in the Eagles getting out of the second period without allowing a goal.
“We pretty much have to rely on [Price] to stop the shots, but we’ve got to make sure we keep guys outside and don’t let them just come over the blue line,” Brightney said. “We’ve got to stop them.”
ROAD GETS (JUST AS) HARD FOR EAGLES
Hanson and the Eagles will have a few days to enjoy the win and the Christmas holiday, but the road doesn’t get much easier for Prep. They’re next game will be Wednesday on the road at Merrimack Valley Conference power Central Catholic.
“Hockey’s a tough thing,” Hanson said. “You look like world beaters one night and go out the next night and [ask] where did that team go? We’ve got a week to get ready for Central. It’s in Lawrence; it’s a tough rink to play at.”
The Raiders will be smarting after dropping a 5-2 decision to Arlington Catholic last night and Hanson said he’ll expect the most of his team in another tough non-conference game.
“It’s against a really tough opponent in Central,” Hanson said. “They’re a Super 8 team year in year out. We’re going to go out there and give it our best on Wednesday and try to get the W.”