BOSTON -- They were pretty much even, save for about a minute in the first period.
Outside of the third minute of the opening period in Tuesday night’s game at UMass Boston, No. 8 BC High was right with No. 3 Catholic Memorial in many regards. But the Knights simply did a better job burying their opportunities in a 3-0 win to open the teams’ Catholic Conference slate.
“We’ve had bad first periods all year,” CM head coach Bill Hanson said. “We’d talked about that coming into tonight. We said that we had to win the first period for a change.”
The Knights (4-3-0, 1-0-0) jumped on the board 2:36 into the first when Tom Barrett back-handed the rebound from a shot by Harrison Connelly into the back of the net. CM was back at it 13 seconds later when Liam Coughlin scored as a result of some crisp transition passes from Marc Hetnik and Ryan Sullivan.
The quick flourish could’ve rattled the young Eagles (3-1-1, 0-1-0), but BC High returned stronger in the second period and out-shot the Knights, 11-4.
Still, the Eagles weren’t able to finish as CM netminder Tommy Knox stopped 24 shots and collected his first shutout of the season.
“Other than a minute in the first period, I think we competed,” BC High head coach John Flaherty said. “We out-chanced them for part of the time. They capitalized, they finished their chances. We didn’t finish ours.”
The Eagles squandered four power play opportunities in the second period. The CM penalty kill unit was up to the task, consistently disrupting passing lanes, taking away BC High’s chances down low and blocking numerous shots before they could reach Knox.
“Tommy Knox is a good goalie, but you have to make sure he isn’t able to see the puck,” Flaherty said. “I think we allowed him to do that. We allowed him to see pucks, and for him to get in position, and we didn’t bang home rebounds that were waiting there for us.”
Coughlin was involved again on CM’s third goal, scored by Dan O’Hear. On a 2-on-1 break, Coughlin made a perfect saucer pass across the faceoff dots onto the tape of O’Hear’s stick with 7:20 remaining.
Knights senior defenseman Leo Stapleton doesn’t see a whole lot of ice time. That is except for when CM has a penalty to kill. Hanson utilizes Stapleton exclusively on the penalty kill, so he saw plenty of action during the second period when BC High had four stints on the power play. The Southie native sacrificed his body often, blocking six shots and leading a defensive effort that likely would’ve even pleased Claude Julien.
“It shows that we’re playing with courage and that we’re being aggressive in our own end,” Hanson said about the Knights’ multitudes of blocked shots.
That ethos plays into CM’s directives a man down, as well.
“We held them to not real good scoring chances,” Hanson said. “What we try to do is take away the backdoor play and we did that.