BOSTON -- No. 2 BC High had plenty ahead of it entering Wednesday night’s Catholic Conference duel with No. 17 Xaverian. Aside from keeping pace in league play, the Eagles had the opportunity to wrap up an early tournament berth
The Eagles did all of the above while remaining unbeaten in the Catholic Conference with a 4-2 win over the Hawks at UMass-Boston.
“It was a qualifying game for us so we wanted to win it, plus it’s a big two points for us in the Conference,” BC High head coach John Flaherty said. “You have to take those opportunities when they come.”
The Eagles (9-1-2, 4-0-2) reestablished a two-point lead over St. John’s Prep atop the Conference standings, leading into Saturday’s duel at Ristuccia Arena.
But BC High had its hands full with the physical Hawks (4-5-3, 0-3-2), who jumped out to 1-0 first period lead on Brian Cahalane’s power-play goal at 12:06. Cahalane cut across the goal line to stuff in backhander to the short side of Eagles goaltender Peter Cronin.
However, BC High struck for the equalizer before the period was out. Seconds after an Eagles power play expired, Chris LaLiberte wristed home a shot with 29 seconds remaining in the period, with assists from Michael Brooks and John Stillman.
Neither team was able to generate much offense in the second period, despite sharing three power-play opportunities. The Eagles held a slim 14-9 lead in shots on goal through 30 minutes.
BC High claimed its first lead of the game at 7:11 of the third period with Brooks tallying his second point of the game, sneaking one past Matt Michals (19 saves) off a broken play.
Xaverian fired back less than a minute later with its second power play goal of the game. Eddie Pratt blasted a slap shot, working the blue line on the man-up unit, from the point off a feed from Jake Farrell.
The momentum shifted back to the Eagles moments later when Pat Kramer scored what would prove to be the game-winner at 9:34. Kramer’s wristshot from the right wing circle was set up by an expert drop pass from Eagles junior captain Tom Besinger.
“[Besinger] is able to draw attention to himself and when Pat [Kramer] saw that, he put himself in position to receive a pass,” Flaherty said.
BC High closed out the victory with Brooks tallying his second goal of the game and third point of the contest with an empty-netter.
COMMITMENT TO D
Despite having nothing to show for it in the standings, the Hawks were effective on specialty teams, going 2-for-5 on the power play and shutting out BC High on four power play chances.
In addition to their keen defense on the man-down, Xaverian was consistently able to bottle up the Eagles coming through the neutral zone. It limited BC High’s scoring chances, particularly in the first two periods, and helped to bog down the Eagles’ fleet-footed forwards.
“We’ve been trying to clog the middle up a little bit more,” Hawks head coach Dave Spinale said. “You have [the first forward] take the pass away, then the [second and third forward] fill the middle and try to make them go cross-ice instead of up the middle. I thought we were pretty effective there and that’s a big part of their game.”
The Eagles could control their own destiny, in terms of claiming the Catholic Conference title, if they can sweep the season series from Prep on Saturday.
It’s one of the goals BC High’s leaders set at the start of the season.
“We set a goal to win the Catholic Conference,” said Brooks, a senior captain. “We haven’t won it, but it’s another step closer. This is the earliest we’ve ever qualified [for the tournament] and that’s a good feeling. I’ve been here four years, so it’s a good feeling.”