WILMINGTON, Mass. – It’s not about the finish, it’s about the start. Right?
No. 1 BC High took control of Saturday’s Catholic Conference clash with No. 9 St. John’s Prep from the get-go, scoring first little more than a minute in and running to a 2-0 advantage by the 5-minute mark.
Behind a pair of goals from senior captain Steve DeForge, BC High held on for a 4-2 win over Prep in the annual Derek Hines Memorial Game.
“It’s an honor to play in this game for Derek Hines and his family,” DeForge said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of it. When we come up here, we want to play for them as well, especially in my four years of coming up here, we’d never gotten a point.”
With the victory, BC High (8-0-2, 3-0-1 Catholic) has now earned a point in each of its first 10 games on the season.
Junior center Tim Larocque had BC High running out of the gate with a rebound putback of a Connor Noonan shot at 1:28. DeForge then followed with his first at 3:15, a power-play goal with assists from Ryan Shea and Sam Topham.
“It was a good win off the faceoff and the puck went back to Sam [Topham],” DeForge said, “he dished it back to me down low, passed it back to him and he gave a good D-to-D to [Ryan Shea]. He had a good line to me and I just put it home.”
However, St. John’s Prep (4-5-1, 0-4-1) got on the board just about a half-minute later with Jimmy Currier being the beneficiary of some slick transition play from Evan Leclerc and Nick Latham.
It remained a 1-goal game at the intermission, but BC High started the second period with fury as well. DeForge tallied his second, from Chris LaLiberte, just 40 seconds into the second.
“We just put ourselves in a hole all day by giving up, I think in the second period, another goal within the first minute,” Prep head coach Kristian Hanson said. “In the third period, [there was] a goal in the first minute. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t put a full game together – a lot of that credit goes to BC High.”
Yet, Prep was able to counter quickly again. Less than two minutes elapsed following DeForge’s second tally before Prep again cut the difference to a single goal. Latham earned his second point of the game with a power-play goal at 2:04, with Mark Etherington providing the assist.
But, according to script, BC High held serve, scoring for the third straight period in the first minute with Jake Lemanski potting his sixth goal of the season 59 seconds in.
Prep had a golden opportunity to claw closer once again, with 1:27 of 5-on-3 power-play around the 5-minute mark of the third. BC High’s defense tightened around goaltender Brandon Payzant (16 saves), allowing one shot-on-goal in the duration of the 2-man advantage.
“Now, you get out of there and you still have a two-goal lead,” BC High head coach John Flaherty said, “there was still a lot of time left on the clock, but you could have been tied or down at the end of a 5-on-3 like that.”
Honoring a hero: The true driving force behind Saturday’s matchup was the Lt. Derek Hines Soldiers Assistance Fund. The game marked the sixth year Prep has honored its fallen graduate, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2005, while deployed with the Army’s 173rd Airborne Division.
Hines, who was a standout in his time with Prep hockey, graduated to the U.S. Military Academy, where he served as a graduate assistant with the hockey team while completing Ranger and Airborne school.
In his memory, the Assistance Fund was presented with a $6,500 donation, a $2,500 increase over last year’s gift.
Saturday marked the first time in BC High’s seniors’ time playing in the game that they emerged victorious, having lost in the three previous years.
St. John's Prep is 4-2-0 in the six years of the Hines game.
Midway point: With its 10th game in the books, BC High reached the halfway marker of its season.
The Eagles hold the No. 1 ranking in our statewide Top 25 poll and they’ve only dropped points to conference rival Xaverian and Rhode Island power Bishop Hendricken in a pair of ties.
Even with its resume to date, BC High is an essential shoo-in for the Super 8 tournament, but Flaherty isn’t about to look any further down the line.
“With our schedule, we can’t look at what we’ve accomplished, we have to look at what’s ahead of us.”