BOSTON -- Two goals in the opening period turned out to be enough for BC High in its Top 5 showdown against Reading on Saturday afternoon at UMass-Boston. The No. 2 Eagles held on for a 2-0 victory (their third shutout of the season), but rode their luck against a spirited No. 5 Rockets squad that had two apparent goals disallowed.
Reading (4-1-1) had plenty of chances to get the goals it needed, but the Rockets went 0-7 on the power play including two, 2-man advantages that each lasted longer than a minute.
BC High head coach John Flaherty credited his team’s penalty kill and senior goalie Peter Cronin for pulling out the win.
“The defense battled, but as they always say, your best penalty kill is your goalie,” Flaherty said. “We killed some 5-on-3’s down the end and we were running around and he made some very big saves there to keep it where it was.”
Flaherty added about his star netminder, “He’s focused, you know, he’s seeing the puck very well right now. He’s in the zone. It is little movements but they’re important ones.”
Reading head coach Mark Doherty also pointed to his team’s struggles on the power play as a deciding factor in the team not getting the result against the Eagles.
“Truthfully, I don’t think we’ve dedicated, obviously, enough time to it in practice, which is on me,” he explained.
BC High (5-0) took the lead at 2:54 of the first period with a power play goal by Pat Kramer. The sophomore forward redirected a shot from the point by captain Tom Besinger. Sam Topham was also credited with an assist.
With just under eight minutes remaining in the period, the Eagles struck again.
Steve DeForge sent the puck around the boards behind the net to Tim Larocque, who fired a great pass through the crease to the back post where Connor Noonan was on-hand to tap into the open net.
Reading had a great chance to get on the board within five minutes of the start of the second period, but a brilliant 3-on-2 move ended with a shot off the post. Mark Dente and Mike Thomson combined to create an open net opportunity, but Robert Devaney could not apply the finish.
Reading showed the ability to skate with the Eagles and created a number of scoring chances through the team’s speed but Cronin was always there to stymie the Rockets.
After the game, Cronin spoke about his team’s focus on getting off to a good start in a tough game.
“The past couple of games, we’ve had pretty bad first periods, so we wanted to come out here and set the tone early on,” Cronin said. “We were treading water for a little bit there, but we pulled it out and that’s what good teams do.”
Despite the score line, Doherty was impressed by his team’s effort in its third game in four nights and the way that the Rockets competed against one of the top teams in the state.
“I’m proud of my kids’ effort for the second and third period,” he said. “I thought we fought hard for two periods against a very good hockey team.”
The third period was stop-start because a number of penalties on both sides. The best chance down the stretch fell to the Eagles Michael Brooks on a breakaway after Reading defenseman Mike Seibold broke his stick. Brooks flew into the zone but his shot sailed wide of goalie Evan Morelli (18 saves).
Flaherty admitted after the game that his team had to bear down and grind out a result to stay unbeaten ahead of Wednesday’s showdown with No. 1 Malden Catholic.
He said, “Reading’s historically a very good team and I would say that this as good a team as they’ve had. They compete and they’re fighting for one last shot to make it to the Garden.”