NORTH ANDOVER – St. John's Prep owned all of the momentum when Evan LeClerc scored with 5:56 left in the third period of Wednesday's Super 8 semifinal, but BC High didn't didn't let its opponent keep that momentum for long.
Chris Laliberte answered 29 seconds later and his goal capped the scoring in BC High's 3-2 triumph.
“You have to strike right back,” BC High head coach John Flaherty said. “And when we did that I felt good about how the game was going. This is a great win.”
BC High will meet Malden Catholic in the Super 8 title game, which will be played Sunday (6 p.m.) at TD Banknorth Garden.
St. John's Prep trailed 2-1 entering the third, but pulled even when LeClerc put the puck past junior goaltender Peter Cronin.
“We had complete confidence going into the third period that we were going to come back and tie the game,” St. John's Prep head coach Kristian Hanson said. “We've been doing it all year. We were confident that we were going to win the game.
“After we scored that second goal I don't want to say we let up. I think BC High picked it up. They had their top group out there. My top group had just come off. They were tired. It was a good matchup for them and they scored the goal.”
Tom Besinger and Tim Larocque also scored for BC High. Besinger opened the scoring with an unassisted goal at 7:26 of the opening period, and Larocque broke a 1-1 tie with 1:56 left in the second.
St. John's Prep made it a 1-1 contest when Nick Pandelena scored a power-play goal at 11:58 of the first. After Larocque regained the lead for BC High, LeClerc tied the game on a shot through traffic from the right faceoff circle.
Laliberte made it 3-2 before the public address announcer had announced LeClerc's goal.
It was the third meeting between the teams this season. Each team won once during the regular season.
“I told the guys in pregame that it would probably come down to one goal – and it did,” Hanson said. “I think both teams worked really hard out there. Congratulations to BC High. I have a lot of respect for their program and wish them luck on Sunday.”
BC High's goals came from two sophomores (Besinger and Laliberte) and a freshman (Larocque).
“The guys who scored the goals – they don't score a lot, but they scored the key ones tonight,” Flaherty said. “Our first two goals were just hard-working goals. Going to the net and putting pucks away. We worked hard as a team tonight.”
Flaherty on playing for the Super 8 title:
“It's very exciting. These kids are spoiled. They played at Fenway this year [a 4-0 victory over Catholic Memorial], now they're getting the chance to play in the TD Garden. It's a great opportunity for these guys – and they earned it. We knew what the prize was. Our guys worked hard and they reaped the rewards.”
“It's a great team that we beat, but the season's not over. It's not the final game – and you gotta remember that. We'll practice tomorrow, we'll practice Friday and we'll practice Saturday. Then we'll get on a bus on Sunday and go play in a great venue.”