WILMINGTON, Mass. – St. John’s Prep won a period, then Hingham won a period.
But in the end, everything was all even as two of the top 10 high school hockey teams in Massachusetts skated to a 4-4 tie at Ristuccia Arena on Wednesday.
No. 7 St. John’s ran out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, only to see the No. 2 Harbormen pick up their physical play in the second. The teams were tied 3-3 headed to the second intermission.
In the third, Sam Kurker tallied his second goal of the game for the Eagles, but Austin O’Connor netted the equalizer 1:30 later for Hingham and round out scoring.
“It shows what we have in the locker room,” Harbormen head coach Tony Messina said about his team’s effort in battling back. “Hopefully, it means good things to come and we’ll get better and better as the year goes on.”
The Prep (1-0-1) was the sharper team in the first stanza when defensemen Joe Currie and Kurker (on the power play) paced the Eagles to a 2-0 lead.
Hingham (2-0-1) took the ice in the second period a new team. The Harbormen were tenacious in their forecheck and finished their checks. Their efforts paid off when Dan Griffin scored on a goal assisted by James Gordon and C.J. Mulieri 1:57 into the second. The Prep pushed their lead to two goals again on John Farrow’s unassisted goal midway through the second.
The Harbormen drew even with two goals from a pair of blue-liners within 1:30 of each other. Freshman John Carlson ripped home a slap shot from the point to get Hingham within one. Then, senior Steven Bellew knotted it up, 3-3, with an assist from captain Alex Pompeo.
“We have a freshman and a sophomore in our starting four defensemen,” Messina said. “It’s going to take them a while to get adjusted to the speed. I thought we did a good job maintaining the very dynamic first line they have, they’re very dangerous.”
It looked as though the Eagles might have netted the game winner when Kurker, the junior right winger, scored his second of the game with 4:34 remaining. The snipe was set up on a tape-to-tape pass from Farrow and was a welcome sight to Prep head coach Kristian Hanson. Kurker, who plays with Farrow and center Colin Blackwell on the Eagles’ top line, had yet to light the lamp this season, so his outburst came at a welcome time against the defending Super 8 champions.
“It was good for him I think from a mental aspect to score a couple of goals,” Hanson said. “I think it kind of sets him in a good position for the season.”
However, 1:31 after Kurker’s strike, O’Connor tied the score once again on a back-hander assisted by Bellew and Jake Magner.
The teams even drew in shots on goal with 23 apiece with Hingham goaltender Derek McInnis and Prep’s Dave Letarte making 19 saves each.
“They scored those three goals in the third period and certainly they could’ve taken that momentum into the third period,” said Hanson whose team faces No. 3 Catholic Memorial in their Catholic Conference opener on Monday. “We talked at intermission about what we needed to do in the third period. It came down to a 15-minute game and who wanted it the most. We scored to take the lead, but this is Hingham and they’re the defending Super Eight champs, they’ve been there before.”
“We certainly would’ve liked to get two points out of it, as I’m sure Tony [Messina] would have, but we’ll take the point.”