STONEHAM, Mass. -- Central Catholic didn’t make its Super 8 series easy against No. 1 seed St. John’s Prep. But as the Eagles faced elimination for the second game in a row, Prep star forward Brian Pinho finally beat Colin Soucy sending his squad past the Raiders, 4-2, in Sunday’s deciding Game 3 of their quarterfinal series at Stoneham Arena.
St. John’s Prep will play Austin Prep next in the semi-finals. The Eagles won a previous game earlier this season against the Cougars, but that was along time ago.
“You can forget about the fact that we beat them in January because it’s March now,” Eagles head coach Kristian Hanson said. “What we did during a game in January means nothing. Elijah Harris is playing very well for them. He is one of the best goalies in the state, and we anticipate that he will be tough to beat.”
Pinho struggled to finish throughout the series against the Central Catholic goalie, but he rose to the occasion when his team needed him. Late in the third period, seconds after Central Catholic had tied the game; the Providence College commit finally beat Soucy.
“Brian’s a great player, but he was starting to get a little frustrated because Soucy has had his number,” Hanson said. “We talked to Brian about it, but you can’t tell a kid how to score a goal. They have to just seize the opportunity and do what they do. He had that opportunity, and he buried it.”
St. John’s (19-3-1) loses 15 seniors after this season, so losing was simply not the way the leaders of the Eagles wanted to go out. Although the group helped get the win, there is still a lot of work to do.
“None of [the seniors] wanted this to be their last game especially [since it is only] the first round. It is satisfying that we won, but we still have a lot of work to do,” Hanson said.
Billy Price locked down the Eagles’ net, as the St. John’s goalie stopped 23-of-25 Central shots.
“Billy [Price] was great today, he looked very calm and poised out there,” Hanson said. “Even when they got that goal to tie the game [in the third] he stood tall.”
Soucy (20 saves) had an incredible run in the series, and the Raiders net-minder gave his squad a legitimate shot at knocking off the top seed.
“Colin [Soucy] stepped up his play, and everyone started to believe because of his play,” Central Catholic head coach Mike Jankowski said.
After a scoreless first period, Eagles forward James Currier made a nifty spin-o-rama move before firing the puck into the twine.
The Raiders (15-7-3) came right back though as Lloyd Hayes scored the Raiders first goal for the third game in a row to even things, 1-1.
“It’s just the character of Hayes because he just goes out there and competes for us,” Jankowski said.
Before the period could end, Paul Crehan picked up a rebound that came out to him in the slot. The forward rifled a wrist shot off the crossbar and into the goal.
“We hate to put a number on it because technically that is our [fourth line], but they certainly don’t play like a [fourth line],” Hanson said. “They are very comfortable playing together, they are very effective playing together, and that was evident by the goal that Paul [Crehan] had.”
Halfway through the third period, Christian Thompson tied things up by beating Price through the five-hole, but the deadlock only lasted only 26 seconds.
Pinho finally beat Soucy as a deflected shot went straight to him. Pinho was waiting on the backdoor, and he fired the puck into the goal as Soucy could not get over in time.
“It’s the best goal I have scored in my life,” Pinho said. “Soucy probably robbed me about five times this tournament, so it felt so good to get that goal. I can’t even describe it.”
Later in the third, Tyler Bird scored on the power play to extend the Eagles. Bird picked up a rebound and he made no mistakes firing the puck past Soucy.
“At that point we were just playing regular because we were trying to [prevent] a shorthanded goal, so we just had our first line out there,” Hanson said. “They had the man advantage, so it was just a benefit to us.”
Central Catholic pulled Soucy late, but the Raiders failed to put much pressure on Price as the St. John’s defense locked down.