BOSTON -- If the Catholic Conference opener between St. John’s Prep and BC High is any indication of how the rest of the season is going to be between some of the upper class hockey teams in the state, then everyone interested is in for a treat.
Bartley Regan swatted a puck out of the air and into the net in the final two minutes of regulation to give the Eagles (5-0) a 5-3 victory over the Prep (3-2) on Wednesday night at the Clark Athletic Center on the campus of UMass-Boston.
The night had a little bit of everything. It featured physical play, great goaltending, and, yes, even a little bit of controversy.
“It was definitely an emotional game,” BC High head coach John Flaherty said. “It was a hard fought game. I think the momentum swings were back-and-forth, and they are a very good team. … This is the competition in the league. You’ve got to battle every game, you got to come ready to play every game.”
It’s no surprise what Flaherty wants out of Regan when the big forward enters the game.
Regan, who just happens to moonlight as the Eagles’ Super Bowl winning quarterback, used his big frame to get in front of the net on two occasions and that’s where Flaherty wants him to live — case in point when a puck careened off his leg and into the net to tie things up 3-3 in the second period.
Regan also flashed a nice set of hands to go with this apparent legwork.
With 1:50 left on the clock, and right after the Eagles killed off a late Prep penalty, Regan moved toward the right post and batted a Brian Furey shot out of the air to notch the game-winning goal.
Regan played the puck with a high stick for most players, but according to the referees his goal was legal and it stood for the eventual winner.
“I just went right to the net,” Regan said. “[Furey] took it high and I was like ‘Oh, what do I do.’ I thought it was a little high, but I thought it was a good goal.”
The Prep (3-2-0, 1-0-0) played well enough to get at least a point out of the night, but Kristian Hanson knows that the puck bounces in mysterious ways for both sides.
“It’s difficult to make that call in a split-second call like that,” said Hanson. “But good play by [Regan]. Good hand-eye to coordination to bat that out of the air and credit him for being able to do it.”
Regan has morphed from a role player on the Eagles last season to a player that Flaherty has counted on in the crunch.
“He has to use his God-given size and strength, and he has to get to the net,” said Flaherty. “He is effective when he does. … He’s a go-to guy and he’s filling a role. He’s a leader, a natural born leader, and you saw it on the field as a quarterback. He takes control of the locker room and kids look to him to step up and deliver.”
CRONIN DELIVERS EARLY
The Eagles (5-0-0, 1-0-0) have sometimes relied on Peter Cronin a little too much at times, according to the head coach, and the first period was an indication of that.
The Prep came out and peppered Cronin, who made 25 stops on the night, with 13 shots in the first period alone. Cronin was stout almost all the way through the period, but Nick Pandelena potted a wrist shot from the right circle with 50.8 seconds remaining in the period to answer Tim Larocque’s score earlier.
“That’s what we’ve come to expect from [Cronin], but we can’t rely on Peter all the time,” said Flaherty. “We have to play in front of him, we have to play for him. He’s an excellent goalie and he gives us a chance to win every night.”
KURKER IS FLASHY
The Prep saw plenty of highlight reel goals from Colin Blackwell in the past and they have another solid forward playing on the top line this season in Sam Kurker.
Kurker finished with two goals and an assist and almost put in at least one or two more if it weren’t for the efforts of Cronin.
“[Kurker] played a North-South power forward style game tonight,” Hanson said. “That’s when he is at his best. I thought he was physically strong, but overall he can be a pretty dominant offensive force.”