BOSTON -- Senior Steve DeForge and junior Jake Lemanski each scored twice for the host BC High Eagles as John Flaherty’s team dispatched St. John’s Prep, 5-2, Thursday, in the Catholic Conference opener for both teams.
“It’s the first Catholic Conference game, so it’s big to get out of the gate with a win, especially against a very good team like St. John’s Prep.” said Flaherty. “They’ve got some big guys who can move, skate and move the puck so we’re happy with the two points,” added the coach.
With a team that has so many young players contributing big minutes it is important for the upperclassmen to play well. That’s what happened on Thursday afternoon, according to Flaherty.
“Leadership. [Steve DeForge and Jake Lemanski] are leaders of this team,” he said."Both of them step up when the game is on the line. Both of them are good puck shooters and that is what I expect of those two kids."
Flaherty continued, "DeForge is a captain and a senior. Jake is just a natural leader. He’s just one of those kids. He’s a junior, but he’s on point with his talking in the locker room."
It was a sloppy first period that saw the foes trade two goals each. DeForge scored his first goal of the night on the power play just 3:23 into the game on a laser of a wrist shot.
“I got the puck at the top of the point, just ripped it on net and hoped for the best. We had some traffic in front so luckily it went in. I didn’t know it went in at first,” said DeForge.
St. John’s answered back with two goals to take a 2-1 lead. Junior Teddy McNamara scored on a nice snap shot where he used the defenseman as a screen. The shot deflected off the defender’s stick and went high over BC High sophomore goaltender Brandon Payzant.
Mark Etherington took advantage of a scramble in front of the BC High goal that allowed him to pick up the puck between the circles and backhand one past Payzant for St. John’s only lead of the night.
Lemanski scored both of his two goals in the second frame when BC High was really able to take over control of the game. Junior center Patrick Kramer won the draw back to Lemanski who quickly roofed one past St. John’s netminder Anthony Selvitella.
“We’ve been practicing that play a lot. Pat was able to win it and get the puck back to me. I just wanted to get it off quick and get it through. Fortunately it did,” said Lemanski.
His second goal, with just seven seconds to play in the middle period, was created by some passing at the point and then patience by the Scituate native. Billy Roche fed the puck to fellow blue liner Trevor Davis who slid the puck down low to a waiting Lemanski who let the goaltender go down before lifting one short side.
“Roche walked the point and gave it to Trevor Davis, and I tried to get open to the side of the net. Trevor gave it to me, and I got it up as quick as possible. It was able to sneak by [Selvitella],” said Lemanski.
DeForge added an insurance tally in the third period as he flew down the left side before unleashing a wicked wrister that pegged the corner of the net before falling in.
Payzant, a sophomore, stopped 19 of 21 shots in his fourth career start. The two goals he gave up, the first of his high school career, were certainly not his fault.
“Neither of the goals were his fault. I wouldn’t expect him to have either of those, and he settled in and made the saves he’s supposed to make. That’s what he’s done all year for us,” said Flaherty of his first-year starting goaltender.
Payzant, a Somerville native, made several key stops in the second period with the score still close.
“That was huge. Those were big saves that allowed us to keep them from knocking on the door. We had some breakdowns, and Brandon was there to make those saves,” said Flaherty.
Notes: Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy and Boston University assistant coach Steve Greely were among the half dozen or so college coaches and scouts in attendance for the matinee game on the campus of UMass-Boston. … BC High looks to keep its undefeated record in tact Saturday night at Weymouth while St. John’s pays a visit to Woburn the same night. … BC High and St. John’s Prep will play their second game against each other on Jan. 18 in the Derek Hines Memorial Game at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington. Hines is a former captain at St. John’s who went on to play hockey at Army before tragically losing his life in the War on Terror in Afghanistan.