CANTON, Mass. -- When the first period ended and the score was only 1-0, it felt as though No. 15 Arlington Catholic has missed a golden opportunity to put away its Catholic Central League rival and claim two points.
Archbishop Williams relied on goalie Joe Vinay’s 16 first-period saves to stay in Saturday night’s physical encounter at the Canton Sportsplex and finished with a strong couple of periods to earn a 1-1 tie.
In fact, Archies (4-2-3) had the best chances to win the game in the third period.
On a quick transition off a Vinay save, junior Mike Jessman paused to allow a defender to slide by before ringing a shot off the crossbar. With 1:46 remaining in the game, the Bishops (4-2-3, 1-0-2) were awarded a power play, but were stymied by aggressive Arlington Catholic defending and a great kick save by goaltender Bryan Hunt.
Cougars head coach Dan Shine credited his penalty kill unit for being able to hold on to the point in the final moments and noted that his team practices blocking shots to be prepared for those situations.
“It’s been a strength of ours all season,” he said. “It’s nice when you know that you have guys that specialize in something and they specialize in that. They love it and they thrive on it and they love to block shots. We keep track of those stats and I’m sure someone has taken the lead tonight.”
Sophomore forward Ryan Spagnoli wasted no time giving Arlington Catholic (4-1-3, 2-0-2) the lead when he took hold of a rebound and roofed the opening goal inside the opening 30 seconds. The first period was a shooting gallery for AC, which outshot Archies 17-5, but could not find a way past an inspired Vinay (29 saves overall).
Archies head coach Derackk Curtis spoke afterwards about how important the play of his senior goalie was in keeping the team in the game.
“To be honest with you, he has been playing awesome this year,” Curtis said. “He kept us in the game. That’s what a good goalie does. He gave us an opportunity to get back in the game and maybe even win it.”
After the intermission, Archies stormed back into the game with a strong second period. They outshot AC 9-5 in the period and took the initiative to keep the puck in the Arlington Catholic zone. The pressure paid off when sophomore Tyler Bradford stole the puck at the blue line and slid a shot under the pad of Hunt to tie the game at one apiece.
Curtis admitted to having some choice words for his team at the break and was pleased to see a reaction in the final two periods.
“You look at the maturation process of the players and sometimes the kids come into the game not fully committed to playing the game,” he explained. “I want to be clear with the kids that if they go out and play to their full potential, they have the opportunity to do great things. We have a good hockey club and we had to figure it out.”
Shine also praised the Archies goaltender and credited his opponents for making it a great league game.
“I thought that it might come back to bite us that we didn’t pop another one,” he said of Vinay. “Give credit to their goalie, I think he played terrific. I thought we played very, very well. It was a great game between two real good hockey teams. We’ll both be in the mix come the end of the season.”
Arlington Catholic will travel to Worcester on Monday to face off against St. John’s (Shrewsbury) and Archbishop Williams will host St. Mary’s (Lynn) on Wednesday.