Lawrence Academy Evens the Score Against St. Sebastian’s

St. Sebastian’s at Lawrence Academy; February 20, 2019

The #5 Lawrence Academy Spartans earned a hard fought and important home win over the #4 St. Sebastian’s Arrows 4-2 in front of a rowdy crowd filled with students from both schools. The win avenged a blowout loss to the Arrows just 12 days ago. Senior Ian Graiff (Newfield, NJ) earned the victory in net and David Sacco (Middleton, MA) led the offensive charge as four different Spartan scored goals. The win most likely assures both teams will make the Elite Eight Tourney as teams on the bubble much preferred a Sebastian’s sweep. In a game that featured a dozen DI commits, Lawrence beat the Arrows in every facet from start to finish.

The first period was controlled early by Lawrence as they scored in their second shift. Sophomore David Sacco followed his own rebound just 1:06 in, beating former Catholic Conference rival Luke Garrity (Duxbury, MA) for the score. Tyler Young (Lancaster, MA) started the play and earned an assist. Lawrence continued to fire several shots at the Arrow tender. Lawrence seemed to have a plan and it involved getting pucks deep and to the net and crashing the net for rebounds. St. Sebastian’s gained some traction with a couple power play chances and a 2 on 1 play where Brendan Gorman (Arlington, MA) sent JP Milbury (Needham, MA) in all alone late. Ian Graiff moved quickly to gobble the puck up and the Spartans went to the room up 1-0.

NHL prospect and Northeastern commit Jayden Struble (Cumberland, RI) moved in from the point and fired a goal home 3:44 into the second to tie the score. Then special teams played a factor. First, St. Sebastian’s took and offensive zone penalty. Lawrence took advantage on the power play as Sacco fired a low, hard shot through traffic that created a rebound goal for senior Ethan Bastien (Natick, MA) and the Spartans we’re back on top 2-1 with 10:12 left. About six minutes later, shorthanded, Sam Colangelo (Stoneham, MA) outworked Struble for a puck in the Arrow’s zone. Colangelo made a perfect feed to Connor Sweeney (North Andover, MA) who ripped a wrister top corner for the shorty and a 3-1 lead. 1:28 later with three minutes remaining, Lawrence took a 4-1 lead as Braden Doyle (North Andover, MA) created his shot and a rebound that Holt Oliphant (Northbrook, IL) buried in traffic to make it 4-1. That’s how the second ended.

In the third, the St. Sebastian’s students (who were many) and called the “Henrys” made a tunnel to cheer their team onto the ice. They were quite engaged and also entertaining. It didn’t help much as the Arrows played hard, won the period but could not get enough going for the win. Lawrence took three third period penalties, two we saw and they were not smart and one we didn’t see. St. Sebastian’s scored 6-4 when Tommy Lyons (Westwood, MA) fired a shot home for the power play tally with just under four minutes to go. The Arrows took the goalie out a few more times the last three minutes but the final was 4-2 Lawrence Academy.

1st Star David Sacco (Lawrence)

2nd Star Holt Oliphant (Lawrence)

3rd Star Ian Graiff (Lawrence)

NZ’s Take: The game was interesting as Lawrence played in straight lines and got pucks to the net. They did a good job of taking the goalies eyes away by driving and by establishing position in the crease. They got in trouble when they turned pucks over laterally and when they tried to cycle it high. St. Sebastian’s wanted to play the transition game and Lawrence took that away from them moostly. The biggest difference was Lawrence played tougher in every zone and wanted pucks more. They were tough to play against. Penalties can be an issue for the Spartans and they took two in the first six minutes of the third period. Neither were necessary and an area they must clean up for the playoffs. It gave the Arrows some life and was really the only time they had any consistent pressure. For Lawrence; Graiff was aggressive and played tough in his crease; Doyle played a smart game. Never got caught up ice but made plays when he had to get pucks out and created on a big goal by Oliphant that sealed the deal; Young has great reach and got pucks to the net, played the way they wanted which wasn’t pretty but effective; Sacco was the best player on the ice. Tough, active and productive. He knocked Davenport flat on his back as he tried to play Sacco at the blue line. He was excellent. Drew Bavaro (Bradenton, FL) is a solid two-way player. He hit to defend, minimized chances and played in every situation. More people should appreciate his game. He is big, skates well, balanced and smart, one of the best players tonight; either team; Oliphant deserved that goal. He was awesome on the penalty kill. Really good. Smart, active, tough, blocked shots and added energy. The junior wanted that game, his whole team did but he embodied that attitude best. John Riggins (Bethpage, NY) is a player we like. Has to find a balance and stay out of the penalty box. He is tough and high energy. Dove for a pass that he tipped in the goal on his stomach. It went in and then his momentum knocked the net off. Looked like a goal to us but the effort is all that mattered. He will score a big goal come playoff time. The play Colangelo made or the assist on the third goal was pure effort. He is getting tougher and smarter. Played a smart, solid game in every situation.  For St. Sebastian’s; they really had trouble getting going. Struble was their best player. Put pucks on net, played hard and is really talented. On the play he was stripped of the puck, it was from pure exhaustion. He plays a lot and had ben out there trying to make plays on the PP. His passing has improved as they were all on the tape with a quick release, good intent and proper pace. Bumped off players in the defensive zone and started transition. Highly talented. James Davenport (Natick, MA) was solid as well. His reach is excellent and his skating keeps getting better. He can create more than we remember and his ability to change the angle of his shot from the blue line is a real weapon. Gaps were tight and his skills will translate to the DI level. He is versatile. Liam Gorman (Arlington, MA) keeps getting faster. He is a threat off the edge. Scary considering he is big and we believe at his best around the net as a goal scorer. We liked Lyon’s glide and speed. he stays moving and explodes to chances. Lots of pace and good in transition.

Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images