BOSTON -- Down by one and struggling offensively at the first intermission, Nick Latham and the St. John’s Prep Eagles refused to back down.
Prep got in the groove and came back from behind to beat Catholic Conference rival Catholic Memorial, 2-1, at the Bajko Rink in Hyde Park on Wednesday night.
“It’s a hard fought 2-1 Catholic Conference win, and it could have gone either way,” said Prep coach Kristian Hanson. “It was a big conference game for us, so it was really important.”
Coming out the gates, Catholic Memorial was the stronger team. The Knights easily won the first three face offs and outshot Prep 11-9 in the first period, as Prep’s offense struggled to keep the puck in CM territory.
The Knights took the 1-0 lead over the Eagles less than four minutes into the first period, when forward Zach Sullivan snuck the puck past Prep goalie Kyle Martin. Martin went 9-for-9 in saves for the remainder of the first period, restraining the Knights to a lead of one.
In the second period, the Eagles picked up their pace. Less than five minutes into the second period, Prep forward Tyler Scearbo materialized their energy and evened the score at 1-1 with an exquisite low-slot rebounder.
The rest of the game was uneventful until the last minute of play. The Eagles, having not won a Catholic Conference game since the 2012-2013 season, craved a conference win. Their hunger showed as they turned on the turbo boosters late in the game.
With just 55 seconds left on the clock, Prep forward Teddy McNamara intercepted the puck, broke away from the CM defenders, and powered up the left side. As he entered the defensive zone, McNamara passed the puck to Latham, who fired the puck just over the goalie’s left arm, securing Prep’s 2-1 victory.
“Tied 1-1 in the third period, this game could have really gone either way,” Hanson said. “For the relatively young team, this is a really big road win for us.”
Despite the outcome, Wednesday’s game was very well-played by the Knights. CM outshot Prep, 23-21, and won 19-of-31 faceoffs.
“We played well and we played hard,” said CM coach Bill Hanson. “Billy Smith, Billy Czar, and Zach Sullivan, that line really had it going good tonight.”
The Eagles missed two key players. Kyle Lynch, a junior forward, is recovering from mono while freshman defender Paul Edson broke his skate at the beginning of the third period. In the end, St. John’s Prep beat the odds and secured the win.
“We knew that we were all going to have to step up as a line and as a team as a whole” said Latham. “I think we did.”
Catholic Memorial looks ahead to a continued tough schedule, which includes Catholic Conference rival Malden Catholic on Saturday night.
“Every [Catholic Conference] game is going to be a dogfight," Kristian Hanson said. “There’s such power and balance in the league. In this league, you only have eight games. You beat one team twice, split with the others, and you’re in good shape at the end.”
Prep’s next big contest will take place on Jan. 13 on Tuesday. Until then, the Eagles will savor this one.
“We were very fortunate to get our first Catholic Conference win of the year,” said Latham. “We’ve been preaching all year that if you go hard into the net, good things happen. That’s what happened.”