The first period of the game was a tightly checked, high-speed period that left little space on the ice for clean plays to be made. While both teams were pushing the pace, there were few high-danger scoring chances that could have broken the 0-0 tie. This was the case until Pope Francis struck first at 10:07 of the first period at the hands of junior defenseman Stephen Rougeot. Rougeot was in the right place at the right time as he found the puck on his stick from a rebound created by forward Connor Wodecki after he flew down the right wing and rifled the puck in a spot the goalie could not easily turn to the corner. The Cardinals had continued sustained zone time throughout the period but managed only one goal. The Cougars were playing fast and hard but couldn’t seem to muster any momentum, they went into the locker room down 1-0.
The story of the second period was special teams. Austin Prep lost their composure a bit and yielded a total of nine power-play minutes in the period. Cardinals star forward Ryan Leonard managed to draw two of the penalties using his shiftiness and tireless legs. After a five-minute boarding penalty by Austin Prep, the Cardinals were looking to seize the opportunity. The Pope Francis power play came up empty, due in large part to the tenacious penalty killing from Cougars forward Nolan Ricci. He also created multiple scoring chances but failed to get his team on the board. The Cardinals didn’t challenge the goalie as much as they could have, which meant the score remained locked at 1-0.
The third period started with Pope Francis still on the power play. After another great penalty kill by Austin Prep, they looked to turn it into momentum. After some timely saves by goalie Ben Zaranek, the Cardinals looked to ice the game. At 9:15 of the period, Brandon Spaulding put Pope Francis up 2-0 after a great feed by forward Matt Burke. Burke was having a stellar shift before the assist, swarming the puck and using his size to his advantage. 2-0 ended up being your final.
- G Ben Zaranek, Pope Francis
- F Matt Burke, Pope Francis
- D Logan Dapprich, Pope Francis
TTPA F Nolan Ricci, Austin Prep
From the start of the game, the Cardinals controlled the majority of the play. This was due in big part to their great defensive core who consistently broke out the puck with ease. Austin Prep did a great job getting into the offensive zone, but they simply could not keep the puck there because Pope Francis made few mistakes in their own end. With a full team effort from Pope Francis, they were able to win this game thanks to their skill, speed and great decision making.
The defensive pair of Jack Kennedy and Logan Dapprich really drove the bus for the Cardinals tonight. The duo controlled all three zones during the game and gave forwards very little time to establish the forecheck. Dapprich was especially impressive on the power play as he became a one-man breakout each time he touched the puck with his long, slick strides. Kennedy was rarely out of position and could be counted on to make the right play consistently. This is not to overshadow defenseman and captain Matthew Pelletier, who complimented the other two nicely and made his fair share of smart plays. As we noted earlier, Ryan Leonard was a difference maker every time he touched the puck, often escaping sticky situations with speed and tenacity alone. Pope Francis’ best players were their best players tonight, which made the difference.
As for Austin Prep, forwards Nolan Ricci and Ty Wood were solid on the penalty kill holding their positions and getting sticks in lanes. Defenseman Aidan Elkins looked good in this game with his ability to hold the line in his own end and move along the boards in the offensive zone. Senior goalie Andrew MacDonald played big in net and made multiple clutch saves to keep his team in the game, only yielding two overall.