MALDEN, Mass. – When hockey coaches talk about rolling four lines, there’s usually an assigned order that comes with such a statement. The top six forwards are called upon to score, and the third and fourth lines are supposed to bring the grit and, at times, shoulder the responsibilities of shutting down the other team’s top offensive threats.
Yet, St. John’s Prep head coach Kristian Hanson views his four lines not as ranked No. 1 through No. 4. Instead, they bear colors. The Eagles’ “Green Line” of Paul Crehan, Justin Longo and Cam Shaheen might not be viewed as Prep’s top offensive line by opposing teams, but they were the difference in Tuesday’s 5-2 win over Catholic Conference rival Malden Catholic.
“The Green Line played really well for us tonight, that’s the line of [Justin] Longo, [Paul] Crehan and [Cam] Shaheen, they were possibly our best offensive line through the first couple of periods. Obviously, Paul getting that goal in the third period was really big for us.”
Crehan scored what proved to the game-winning goal, igniting a three-goal outburst in the third period.
The teams skated 2-2 after two periods, but the Eagles (10-2-0, 4-1-0) ran out to an early 2-0 lead, scoring on two of their first three shots on goal.
Despite the early deficit, MC (4-5-3, 0-4-2) controlled the possession game in the first period, outshooting Prep, 12-5. Eagles goaltender Billy Price stood tall in face of the Lancers’ first period onslaught, highlighted by a string of three straight point-blank chances on the power play.
Derek Osbahr had Prep to a 1-0 lead at 1:53 of the first, scoring on a partial breakaway. It was the Eagles’ first shot on goal. Shaheen increased the lead to two goals at the 12-minute mark of the first, breaking in off the left wing and going stickside with the wrist shot.
The Lancers rallied to draw even, scoring their first in the final minute of the first on Ara Nazarian’s power play goal and then on Matt Filipe’s equalizer at 11:12 of the second.
“It’s always a big game when we play MC,” Shaheen said. “We’ve had such a big rivalry with them the last three years we’ve played them. We know they’re a third-period team, so we said in the locker room, before we came out … We needed to be the team that stepped up and made plays in the third period. That’s what we did. We made big plays and that’s why we won the game.”
Crehan gave Prep the lead for good, knocking in a rebound while driving the net, scoring on the backhand while going tumbling into the end wall.
Tyler Bird closed out the victory two goals later in the third, his first coming on a tip attempt on the power play.
The Lancers earned two misconduct penalties in the game’s final minutes, including a game misconduct.
GOING THE DISTANCE
With Tuesday’s victory, Prep tied BC High atop the Catholic Conference standings with their eighth point. BC High is in action again Wednesday night against Xaverian and Saturday’s featured bout is the second round of Eagles vs. Eagles.
“Every point is important,” Hanson said. “Whether it’s Malden Catholic, or Xaverian, whatever team it is you have to bring your best effort.”
The Eagles know what’s ahead of them, and they’ll need to bring their best effort to erase a 2-0 loss to BC High on Jan. 9. But Prep also has the goal of winning its first Catholic Conference title since 1994 on the horizon.
“We have a lot of seniors on this team, we all have the same goals,” Shaheen said. “We want to make it far as we can in the playoffs and we’re on the road right now. We just want to make it to our best potential.”