FALMOUTH, Mass. – If there was a need for any further proof that this year’s Buddy Ferreria Classic at Falmouth Ice Arena could be a preview of Super 8 action to come, Monday’s matinee tilt between No. 2 BC High and No. 4 Austin Prep would satisfy.
The Eagles and Cougars came out of the starting blocks fast, pacing each other up and down the ice sheet.
But it was in the second period when BC High emerged, scoring three goals in a span of less than five minutes, while taking a 6-2 victory and advancing to Thursday’s championship game against Duxbury.
"The first period was a little bit more of a track meet,” Eagles head coach John Flaherty said. “The second period was a little bit more indicative of what we're capable of doing as a hockey team, with speed, passing, finding the guy that's open. When we did that, we were able to put three by them."
BC High (14-1-4) opened scoring at 6:26 of the first, as Tim Larocque snuck a wrister under the crossbar.
The Cougars (12-4-4) drew even on a power play from defenseman Andrew Cross, who was pinching up in the offensive zone and threw one in from the wing off the skate of an Eagles defenseman at 10:29.
"It was a heavyweight bout, there was a little bit of feeling out and it was a 1-1 hockey game,” AP head coach Louis Finocchiaro said. “Then, the second period, for whatever reason all season, the second period's been when we've fallen apart."
The Eagles’ onslaught began at 7:37, when Sam Topham skated up the point to the right wing circle and got Cougars netminder Elijah Harris sliding one way. The puck didn’t come off Topham’s stick cleanly after the dish from Chris LaLiberte (1 G, 1A) and the misdirection fooled Harris, who was playing the percentages.
Then, at 9:39, the Eagles put on a passing clinic. Defenseman Alec Flynn made a nice touch pass at the red line to set up BC High’s transition through the neutral zone. Jake Lemanski then skated the wing and skittered a pass over to Patrick Kramer (1 G, 1 A), who buried it on the back-hand after a single deke.
Just a minute and 41 seconds later, Kramer was in on the act again, this time providing a highlight reel assist. From below AP’s goal line, the Merrimack commit sent a saucer pass back into the slot, skipping over the outstretched stick of a Cougars defenseman and onto the tape of Kayser Raei for the goal.
"Not many kids can make that play, and having the ability to see that and make that pass,” Flaherty said.
It was an example of the Eagles’ concerted effort to set up shop deep in AP’s zone.
"We tried to use our speed and get past their defensemen,” Kramer said. “We had to get Elijah [Harris] moving side to side because he's a good goalie and that's the only way we were going to beat him."
The Cougars attempted to lodge yet another third-period comeback, behind an early Mike Egan goal, but the Eagles distanced themselves.
Larocque added his second point of the game with an assist on a goal from LaLiberte, before Trevor Davis closed out the victory with an empty-netter.
"When we're on and are playing good hockey, we're tough to beat,” Finocchiaro said. “We've talked about it, our coaching staff, we've talked about it, we've tried to drill it into their heads, but we just haven't been able to play 45 minutes of hockey."