Recap: No. 4 St. Mary's 4, No. 7 Reading 3

READING, Mass. – In some way, it’s still way too early in the season to declare, but St. Mary’s of Lynn girls’ hockey’s win over Reading Monday night was of the character-building kind.

Despite tallying the game’s first goal, the No. 4 Spartans didn’t play their best hockey in the first period. The second period wasn’t any better, and the No. 7 Rockets took a one-goal lead to the second intermission while outshooting St. Mary’s by a wide margin.

But somehow, some way, the Spartans found a way to escape from Burbank Arena with a 4-3 win after scoring two power-play goals in the third.

“It’s early in the season,” St. Mary’s head coach Frank Pagliuca said. “It’s a nice win, but it’s two points. It pushes us forward, but hopefully, it builds confidence. After the [Christmas] break, we going to have to compete hard. We have some things to work on. There were some good things and not so good things, but we’re still a work in progress.”

The Spartans (2-0-1) stayed in the game during the early going simply because of the play of senior goaltender Lauren Skinnion, who made 17 of her 38 saves in the first period alone.

“She’s one of the best goalies around and that’s what she’s supposed to do,” Pagliuca said of Skinnion. “Especially in the first period, we got the first goal, but the first two periods, we were standing around watching. I was discouraged that we weren’t competing enough.”

Despite a lead-footed start, St. Mary’s claimed the first lead of the game just two minutes in. Samantha Callahan scored the first of her two goals (3 points) batting in a point shot from Vanessa Van Buskirk.

The Rockets (3-1-0) were unable to find their first goal until the 3:16 mark of the second, despite outshooting the Spartans 17-4 in the first. Gabby DeCologero stepped out from the right wing circle and cut across the top of the crease to slide one past Skinnion.

Reading took a 2-1 lead to the room after the second as Tori Grimmer (1 G, 2 A) put back a rebound off an Ali O’Leary shot.

After a good “talking to” from Pagliuca in the intermission, St. Mary’s found what it needed in the form of any early goal.

Callahan tallied her second of the game, picking up a loose puck in the neutral zone and charging her way down the center of the sheet, finishing with a wicked rising wrister at 1:39 of the third.

“When she’s on her game, she’s hard to stop,” Pagliuca said of Callahan. “She’s really come into her own this year and she’s going to continue to get better. It was a great lift for us to get the goal right at the beginning of the period.”

The Spartans then regained the lead with their first of two power-play goals in the period, with senior defenseman and preseason All-State selection Tatiana Doucette turning a failed clearing attempt into a goal with a fluttering shot from the right point at 4:58.

However, less than two minutes later, Reading knotted the game at 3-all with a power-play goal of its own. Grimmer picked up her third point of the game, lending a helper to Caroline Seibold’s wrist shot at 6:56.

St. Mary’s scored the eventual game-winner 6:51 to play, also coming on the power play. Callahan picked up her third point of the tilt, working down low and finding Katie Terban at the top of the crease.