LYNN, Mass. -- After its one-goal lead was erased early in the second period, No. 4 St. Mary’s of Lynn regrouped and registered three goals during the final 25 minutes to secure a season sweep against No. 20 Austin Prep, as well as a 4-1 win on Wednesday at the Connery Memorial Rink.
The Spartans have now won two of their last three contests, and haven't lost a regular season match since losing to Malden Catholic in December in the first game of the season.
"We needed to win tonight to keep breathing room for the league, and Austin Prep is a very talented, tough team to play," St. Mary's head coach Mark Lee said.
The Spartans (13-1-2, 6-0-1 Catholic Central) earned their first lead of the contest with 52-seconds remaining in the opening period, as juniors Cameron Grenham and Bobby Mullins, (1 G, 1 A) connected with sophomore Jordan Manthorne, which gave St. Mary’s an one-goal advantage prior to the first intermission.
Austin Prep (6-5-3, 5-3-1) answered roughly two minutes into the middle frame when freshman Cam Russo notched the Cougars' only strike of the evening, after he wrapped around sophomore Bailey MacBurnie’s (15 saves) cage for the score.
However, the Cougars goal didn’t exactly provide the necessary spark for their offense, as St. Mary’s responded two minutes later with a goal from Mullins, who rushed the net and slapped the puck past freshman goaltender Elijah Harris (31 saves).
“Once you tie a game up, you want to sustain at least five-six minutes with no goals scored, so you can try to build up some momentum instead of giving them one right back again,” Austin Prep head coach Louis Finocchiaro said.
“I just took a shot on net, and it went in,” said Mullins, who now has seven goals on the season. “I was telling the guys, ‘just get shots on him, they’ll start to go in’.”
The Spartans followed Mullins instructions during the final period and constantly fired shots at Harris’s net before seniors Tim Aylward and Bryan Wilkins found the back of the cage for the teams third and fourth goals.
“I give my guys credit for weathering the storm, and finishing so strong,” said Lee. “We’ve been finding ourselves the last couple of games down, and there’s no panic on the bench, it’s all positive between the teammates. They’re patting each other on the back, keeping it going, and strong.”
Austin Prep finished the final frame with just three shots on net, and no goals.
“We hung in there, we competed, [and] played hard,” Finocchiaro said. “I thought our effort was good tonight.”
Against the Cougars, Bobby Mullins registered a goal and an assist to give him 23 points on the season, but that particular statistic didn’t get in the way of the Spartans celebrating their 13th victory as a team.
“I’m not really looking at the 23 points,” said a humbled Mullins. “The team’s working well together, we’re having a good time, we’re like a family, [and] we’re all like a ‘band of brothers,’ like we say [because] we’re just having fun out there.”
Mullins has now tallied seven goals, and 16 assists through 16 games, but again, he’s not focused on his individual stat line, yet instead, his team.
“Coach is teaching us to play as a team. He said it a lot this season [that] it’s not all about the points,” he said. “We just want to win. We’ve got a lot of heart in the locker room. The seniors are all stepping up their game. We’ve got new guys all pitching in, everybody’s for the team, everybody’s just out there scoring, having fun, and we all just want to win.”
Besides Mullins, junior Cam O’Neill earned his 15th point of the season when he tallied an assist on Wilkins goal. Although, similar to Mullins, O’Neill didn’t steal the spotlight from his team’s gritty effort.
“We’re pretty happy about the attitude, and like I said, it hasn’t been perfect lately, [but] they’ve stayed with it and stayed with the game plan,” Lee said.