Tewksbury, MA – We were able to get eyes on a marquee matchup tonight via LiveBarn as the Eagles of St. John’s Prep traveled north to take on the Austin Prep Cougars at Breakaway Ice Center. The Eagles were coming fresh off an out-of-state matchup against Bishop Guertin which they dominated by winning 7-0 and Austin Prep won the Christie Serino Christmas Classic one week prior and had a game against Central Catholic postponed. Each squad coming off big wins promised an entertaining tilt; this was one we had circled on our calendar for the week.
In the first period, both teams were getting a feel for the game’s pace and there was plenty of speed on display on both ends. The action was moving back and forth early when the Eagles seized the momentum. Big junior forward Will Van Sicklin came tearing up the right wing and took an unencumbered shot on net, beating the netminder short side: 1-0 St. John’s Prep. After the goal, SJP continued to make an offensive push, but Austin Prep put together a couple of strong chances, one off a rush that drew a penalty and a few looks on the ensuing power play. While Van Sicklin’s goal was the only goal of the period, there were plenty of other chances squashed by good stick positioning and good goaltending.
In the second period, it was another tightly contested 15 minutes. Both teams tightened the screws defensively and the first half of the frame mostly involved change of possession and stick checks moving through the neutral zone and tighter gaps defensively when they did reach the offensive zone. Both teams broke out midway into the frame as senior SJP defender Mike Shyjan threw the puck into the left wing corner and sophomore Jake Vana won the puck, curled at the dot and fired one home, beating the goalie far side, bar down: 2-0 Eagles. That two goal advantage was short-lived however, on the very next shift sophomore Austin Prep forward Evan Regan broke into the offensive zone and drew a penalty on his way to the net. The puck drifted to the right of the crease and freshman forward Luke Pazzia followed up the play and deposited it into the net. The lead was cut in half at 2-1. A few minutes later, Austin Prep got into penalty trouble and went down two men; after a timeout, they were able to kill the first one, but not the second one. With nine seconds left on the infraction, junior forward Cole Blaeser teed up forward Jimmy Ayres to make it 3-1 Eagles. With 10 seconds to go, SJP thought they had another marker, but much to the consternation of the players on the ice the referees had waved the play dead before the puck was shot in. The middle frame ended with SJP leading 3-1.
In the final stanza, Austin Prep had leftover power play time but were unable to capitalize. From there, both teams once again tightened things up defensively. There were a couple of chances at each end and an odd-man rush or two, but for the most part each team did their part in limiting Grade A looks at the net. Rushers were kept to the outside and the middle was effectively clogged up. With just over a minute to go, the Cougars called timeout and opted not to pull their goalie until they won the ensuing offensive zone faceoff. Things did not go as planned as SJP’s Van Sicklin stole the puck at the blue line and poked it to Ben McGilvray who ended this one with an empty netter. Final score: St. John’s Prep beats Austin Prep 4-1
- F Will Van Sicklin, St. John’s Prep
- G Payton Palladino, St. John’s Prep
- F Evan Regan, Austin Prep