WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The darkest hours are just before dawn.
That was the hope for St. John’s Prep, which entered Tuesday’s match against Xaverian looking to recover from a 6-0 shutout loss to BC High. Prep also sought revenge for a Jan. 2 loss to Xaverian when the Hawks came back from a 1-0 deficit in the third period to beat Prep 2-1.
The Eagles struck the Hawks with force and soared to a 4-2 victory over Xaverian.
Prep had control for most of the first period, winning six of nine faceoffs and outshooting Xaverian 13-5. Yet, Prep’s offense could not get the puck past Xaverian goalie Aidan Murphy.
Xaverian drew a Prep penalty with just under two minutes left in the first period. In less than 30 seconds, Xaverian took advantage of the power play as Tim Sweeney scored from the middle of the slot.
Prep’s players were noticeably frustrated by the one-point deficit when they entered the locker room in the first intermission.
“Aidan Murphy is an excellent goalie and we couldn’t find the back of the net. When they do on one of their five shots, it can be frustrating” said Prep coach Kristian Hanson. “It motivates the team to try and go out to get that goal back.”
When they got back on the ice, the Eagles played like a team, rather than just a collection of players. Less than a minute into the second period, Prep evened the score at 1-1 as Teddy McNamara set Nick Latham up for a quick slapshot from the low slot.
Prep goalie Kyle Martin made a slew of great second-period saves to keep Xaverian from regaining the lead. Martin’s most impressive save occurred with two and a half minutes left. Xaverian’s Jake Farrell flew towards the net undefended and fired a shot, which Martin narrowly saved.
Four minutes into the third period, Prep took their first lead of the game when Kyle Lynch tipped one in from an assist by Kyle Hentosh. Prep increased their lead to 3-1 when Tyler Scearbo shot a rebounder between Murphy’s legs.
Xaverian’s Mike Hardman returned the favor just 47 seconds later from just outside the net. Despite a valiant Xaverian effort which involved pulling Murphy, Lynch broke out and took advantage of the open net, sealing Prep’s second Catholic Conference victory.
“I put this on [the team] that this is a must win game,” Hanson said. “We came out really hard tonight.”
“This was a huge win for us” said Lynch.
Team Kyle: Prep’s ‘Kyle trio’ has been a consistently strong force for the team this season, and Tuesday’s game was no exception.
The three Kyles -- Hentosh, Lynch and Martin -- all factored prominently in the victory.
Martin saved 23 of 25 shots on goal. Lynch scored two of Prep’s four goals. Hentosh, a long-time teammate of Lynch, consistently pressured Xaverian’s defense and assisted Lynch with both goals.
“Our yellow line [Lynch, Hentosh, and center Billy Falter] brought a lot of energy out there tonight,” Hanson said. “They were our best line… Lynch being back on that line completed them again and they played really well together”
The trio had been stunned for the past couple of weeks as Lynch was forced to watch from the bench due to a crippling illness. On Tuesday, Lynch returned and played a phenomenal game.
“I needed to be there for the team. This was a huge game and we needed to win… I’m definitely a little tired,” Lynch chuckled. “I had to get out there--I was missing it way too much.