MALDEN, Mass. – Forty-five minutes of hockey wasn't enough to settle things between St. Mary's and No. 1 Austin Prep.
Neither was 50.
It took a full compliment of 10 shooters in a shootout, highlighted by a goal from AP's Cam Russo, to squeak the Cougars by the Spartans, 2-1, and into tonight's Chris Serino Holiday Classic final.
Russo scored the only goal of the shootout as well as Austin's goal in regulation.
The game will officially go onto both teams' ledgers as a 1-1 tie, for MIAA purposes.
The win sets up a much-anticipated showdown with Malden Catholic, but Austin Prep coach Louis Finocchiaro was displeased.
“I didn't like our attitude on the bench,” Finocchiaro said. “I didn't think we did a lot of things we work on day to day in practice. I don't think we came here ready to play. A lot of little things we normally do well we didn't do tonight. We just didn't keep things simple; we had individuals who tried to do way to much.”
Austin Prep's biggest problem was finding a way through St. Mary's defense. The Spartans dove to block shots, clogged lanes, and poked check so often that the Cougars offense was only able to go in fits and bursts.
“We had to play good defense to compete with them today, and our guys answered the bell,” St. Mary's coach Mark Lee said. “They went out, clogged lanes, blocked shots, made it difficult for them to generate any offense. I give my guys all the credit in the world; they dug deep all day long and never quit.”
Despite being stymied, Austin Prep did get 35 shots on cage and finally broke through when Russo stuffed home a puck in front with 20 seconds to go in the second period.
St. Mary's came out as strong as ever in the third period and eventually broke through. Connor Foley put a shot past Elijah Harris midway through the period.
“You've got to be ready to play every day,” Russo said. “Not everybody showed up today; it was just one of those days.”
Austin Prep killed off a penalty early in the overtime and pressured offensively but weren't able to end the game on the ice. St. Mary's hit two posts in the shootout.
BAILEY'S LAIR: From start to finish, the best player on the ice was St. Mary's goalie Bailey MacBurnie. The senior turned aside 34 shots in regulation and routinely stopped serious Austin Prep rushes with his fast glove and solid body positioning.
“Bailey's a special goaltender,” Lee said. “From the start, he's helped the team right away, but he's a great influence also in the locker room. He's very positive. Throughout the game it's always a good feeling knowing there's someone behind you who's going to really give an effort the way he does. In the end we left everything on the ice today.”
MacBurnie, who backstopped the Spartans to its only Super 8 appearance two years ago, transferred to Brewster Academy in New Hampshire for his junior year before transferring back to St. Mary’s for his final season.
“The pace of [prep hockey] is a lot quicker,” MacBurnie said. “It's a faster game, but this is right up there.”
MacBurnie said that he's happy to back at St. Mary’s and that the future is bright for him and the Spartans.
“It's a lot of fun; I really like it here,” MacBurnie said. “We kind of have a young team this year, but I think we're going to turn it around and have a nice run.”