BOSTON – Expect the unexpected.
When a rivalry game of the gravitas of a BC High versus Catholic Memorial hockey occurs, all bets are off.
“With BC High and CM, conventional wisdom goes out the window,” Eagles head coach John Flaherty said after Wednesday night’s Catholic Conference duel at UMass-Boston. “You can prepare all you want and something goes differently.”
So why should anyone have been surprised when the Clark Center’s Zamboni ran out of water mid-scrape, causing about a 15-minute delay between the first and second periods.
When the teams finally returned, No. 2 BC High nearly melted the ice, using a four-goal outburst in the second in a string of five straight goals in a 5-1 win over the No. 4 Knights.
CM (8-3-0, 2-2-0 Catholic Conference) jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 11 seconds in on an Aaron Clancy’s seventh goal of the season.
The lead would be short-lived as the Eagles (7-1-2, 2-0-2) tied the game less than a minute later on Tim Larocque’s first of two goals on the evening.
The teams retired to their rooms tied after the first, but the second would be much different.
“[Flaherty] said we needed to just keep on being physical and get everything to the net,” Larocque said. “We came out flying and we were able to get some lucky bounces.”
The Eagles outshot CM 14-7 in the second period, in addition to outhustling and outhchecking the Knights while wining just about every one-on-one battle there was to be in the stanza.
Michael Brooks broke the stalemate at 4:21 of the second. It was the first of two BC High goals within a minute, 13-second span, including Jake Lemanski’s boomer of a Tom Besinger offensive zone face-off win. The Eagles notched their fourth short-handed as Steve DeForge broke in after a neutral zone turnover.
Larocque capped scoring with his second of the game with an assist from Connor Noonan at 12:41 of the second.
“Noonan was skating in and he lost it,” Larocque said. “I happened to be right behind him and I took a took a quick shot and saw it go in.”
The pressure applied by the Eagles in the second was simply unrelenting.
“Every one of their goals, they forced the issue,” Knights head coach Bill Hanson said. “It was a mistake forced by them with aggressive play. Nonetheless, you can’t make mistakes when they’re going after you.”
A SILENT CONTRIBUTION
It’s not often that perhaps the most dominant player on the ice doesn’t figure prominently on the scoresheet.
Besinger, the Eagles’ junior captain and center, was downright dominant taking the draws against CM’s top pivots. He also showcased his speed and shiftiness in a flurry of scoring chances at the tail end of the second period. In both instances, with less than two minutes to play, Besinger turned transition into quality scoring chances.
Even though both of those opportunities went by the boards, his efforts were not lost on his coach.
“Tommy Besinger wasn’t on the scoring sheet other than that assist tonight, but he owned the faceoff circle tonight,” Flaherty said. “He was beating, in my mind, two very, very good centers in Liam Coughlin and Jacky O’Hear.”
He continued, “The little things he does translates into victory today.”
THE FLIP SIDE
While there wasn’t much to like about the Knights’ efforts in the second period, Hanson put a positive spin on things after his team endured perhaps its toughest stretch of the season.
During the last two-plus weeks, the Knights have played a string of five straight ESPN Boston Top 25 ranked teams, including four tilts against each of their Catholic Conference opponents and a Super 8-caliber challenge against Hingham.
“I look at it like this,” Hanson said. “It’s been a tough five-game stretch, we’re two and two in the league and we got six out of 10 points against five real good teams. So that’s what we take out of it.”