Boston High School: Garrett Lehan

Recap: No. 2 BC High 4, No. 12 St. John's (S) 4

February, 15, 2014
2/15/14
12:52
AM ET
MARLBOROUGH, Mass. – It’s no secret that these are desperate times for the St. John's Pioneers.

With the regular season down to a few precious days, St. John's is pulling out all the stops in an effort of convincing the powers that be within the Super 8 tournament selection committee that they should be one of the 10 teams represented later this month.

On Friday night, the 12th ranked Pioneers made a strong case for themselves after grinding out a 4-4 tie against No. 2 BC High at New England Sports Center.

"I'm very pleased with the effort tonight," said St. John's head coach Mike Mead, whose club has now recorded ties in its last four contests "This was a playoff-like game. It gets you tournament-ready and that is what this last week of the season does for us. I think this result will definitely open some eyes. We are a team that is playing very well at the right time of the season. We can control only what we can control. If we are meant to be in the Super 8 then great. But if we're not then we're not."

The Pioneers travel to Coyle-Cassidy Saturday night before hosting Xavier (Conn.) on Monday before wrapping up the regular season Wednesday at Xaverian.

St. John's (9-4-6), which is still postseason bound (Division 1 North tournament) even if the Super 8 does not come calling, knows it probably should have came away victorious on Friday.

Kevin Quinlivan's rebound score coming at 13:08 of the third period pushed the Pioneers in front, 4-3. With a little more than a minute to go, the Eagles pulled goaltender Brandon Payzant for the extra attacker. It paid off. With only 58 seconds remaining, junior Pat Kramer blasted a shot from just inside the blue line. The puck appeared to tip off the stick of teammate Tim Larocque and sneak through the leg pads of Pioneer goalie Mario Pizzeri for the equalizer.

Officials credited Kramer with the goal but Larocque had positioned perfectly in front of Pizzeri to redirect the shot.

Throughout the course of this contest, BC High (12-1-4) held a distinctive edge offensively, out-shooting St. John's 38-21. But due to Pizzeri's performance, the Eagles were not able to pull away.

"They did a better job taking care of the puck then we did," BC High head coach John Flaherty said. "We had more chances but we didn't capitalize. Mario is a very good goalie and we knew that coming in. We knew that team would come ready to work because they need to. They know what is at stake for them. We knew that and shame on us for not responding. I'm happy that we pulled the tie out but what led up to that needs to be fixed."

Every time BC High took the lead, St. John's always seemed to have an answer. The Eagles went up first at 7:33 of the opening frame after Larocque sent a saucer pass over to Aidan Foley in front of the St. John's crease. The senior flipped a shot over Pizzeri's left shoulder giving his club a 1-0 lead.

At times, the Pioneers appeared to be puck watching instead of attacking the Eagles once they moved inside the offensive zone. However, Pizzeri (34 saves) was there to bail his club out on numerous occasions.

With just over two minutes remaining in the opening period, St. John's finally started getting its offense to click. Garrett Lehan, skating inside the Eagle zone, let go of a shot that caromed off of Payzant's pads. Alertly, junior forward Dan Barlok was positioned perfectly to pick up the rebound and send it into the net, knotting the game at 1-1 heading into the first intermission.

BC High, a 5-2 winner over St. John's back on Jan. 29, continued its offensive prowess for much of the middle period. The objective was simple enough – shoot as many pucks towards Pizzeri as possible and try to create traffic in front. The Eagles did just that but could not get anything past the senior.

"That was one of the most enjoyable games that I've ever played in," Pizzeri said. "I think we are a different team than the first time we played them. Our goal coming into this game was to make a statement and show the rest of the state that we deserve to be in the Super 8 tournament. I think tonight we did just that."

At the 9:39 mark, and with St. John's short a man after a too many men on the ice penalty, BC High regained the lead following a blast by Kramer's from the perimeter. However, the Pioneers late period magic would arise once again.

Off an errant shot that landed behind the Eagles net, Payzant went back to retrieve it, unknowing to him, that a pair of St. John's forwards were closing in on him fast. After losing control of the puck, the sophomore tried in vain to retreat back inside his crease. But he was a little late in doing so as Mike McGillicuddy was able to lift a backhand an open left side of the net at 12:14 to even things at 2-2.

For as much offensive output that BC High was demonstrating throughout, the only thing that mattered was the scoreboard. The Pioneers knew they were being out-played, particularly inside the defensive zone. But heading into the locker room deadlocked after 30 minutes certainly had to be a confidence booster.

That feeling didn't last long though. Just 37 seconds into the third, forward Steve DeForge muscled his way between two St. John's defenders and, with bouncing puck dancing on his stick, he managed to tuck a shot underneath Pizzeri's right arm and give the lead back to the Eagles 3-2. Things remained that way until Quinlivan's rebound tally midway through the period. A few moments later, St. John's let a golden opportunity to pad the lead slip through its fingers after Barlok broke in alone on Payzant (17 saves).

Aiming for the left side the net, the junior's hard wrist shot, instead, rang off the left post. As fate would have it. That missed chance would come back to haunt the Pioneers once BC High came back to tie the game in the waning seconds to no fault of Pizzeri.

"As I've said before, Mario does everything he can for us," said Mead. "He's a great leader. We aren't going to win many games 8-0. We're going to win games 3-2, 4-3, et cetera. It all starts on how Mario plays for us.”

Recap: No. 8 Prep 4, No. 12 St. John's (S) 4

February, 13, 2014
2/13/14
1:21
AM ET
WILMINGTON, Mass. – After 45 minutes of sizzling hockey, St. John's Prep and St. John's of Shrewsbury skated off the Ristuccia Arena ice nonplussed about a 4-4 tie.

Prep showed chutzpah, battling back against four one-goal deficits to escape with a much-needed point in its quest to make the state tournament.

“I thought for the most part we controlled the time of possession,” Prep coach Kristian Hanson said. “I think we outshot them by a pretty wide margin, but none of that matters. The scoreboard is what matters. In a way in the end you feel fortunate to get a point out of it because I felt we were constantly trailing tonight and the puck wasn't bouncing our way. It's an important point for us; it keeps us in the running.”

The Pioneers broke the ice early when Garrett Lehan scooped up his own rebound and scored 48 seconds into the game. The Pioneers played consistently strong hockey across the board. Despite being outshot 37-19, nine different players reached the score sheet for the Pioneers.

“You hope you can play three lines, you have depth,” SJS coach Michael Mead said. “As long as every line contributes that's a good thing.”

While the Pioneers rolled deep offensively, the Eagles rolled as their first line rolled and the line of Mark Etherington, Jim Currier, and Nick Latham steamrolled. The trio combined for 10 of Prep's 11 points.

Latham shined brightest, scoring a pair of goals and assisting on the other two. His exuberance showed bright after his second, Prep's third, goal when we skated to the Prep student section and climbed the glass to cheer with them.

“I can't make anything happen without my linemates to back me up,” Latham said. “They're awesome. They see the ice so well. You don't even know if they're going to get it to you and it winds up on your stick. We just have pretty good chemistry out there.”

Currier also had a four-point night, with a goal and three assists. Etherington had a pair of assists.

SJS suffered a massive blow in the third period when senior captain Bryan Nelson received a game misconduct penalty for a hit-to-the-head penalty. Prep's Ryan Byrne scored on the ensuing four-minute power play.

“Brian's our captain, he's our leader,” Mead said. “To lose him for the rest of the game it effects you, but the guys bent but didn't break. That's a life lesson for Brian; that's a lesson we learn going towards playoffs. Hopefully it won't happen again.”

PICTURE PERFECT PIZZERI: It's rare for a goalie to give up four goals and still be one of the game's biggest stars, but St. John's (S) goaltender Mario Pizzeri kept the Pioneers' heads above water.

Pizzeri looked spectacular several times, but it was his expert positioning that kept those situations few and far between. The best example of that came in the third period when a Prep defenseman fired a shot from the point that Pizzeri never saw but still went right into his glove.

“Mario kept us in the game,” Mead said. “Mario's been our rock all season long. He keeps us in every game. If he sees the puck he's going to stop it.”

For the bulk of the game Pizzeri kept the puck and did not give up bad rebounds.

“He makes all the first saves,” Latham said. “We capitalized on our rebound goals; that's how we got them in. He's a real good goaltender. He stood on his head.”

THE DASH BEGINS: While neither team picked up two points both picked up a massive point in their run to March. Now sitting 7-8-2 (16 points) the Eagles need four points over their last three games to qualify for the state tournament. That helps lessen the pressure a bit for Prep as it means the Eagles could go pointless for a game and still qualify.

With a new cast of characters leading the way, Hanson said it's a new era with a new team and they'll write their own legacy.

“It's an entirely new group of kids this year from what we've had the past three years so it's their team and their year,” Hanson said. “They've certainly felt the stress frequently, at one point being three games below .500. It's stressful. You don't want to be the team that doesn't make the tournament.

“I feel like our tournament started last week with Austin [Prep] and since then we're 2-0-1. Keep that type of play up.”

For the Pioneers, the tie puts them at 9-4-5 (23 points) with four games to go and keeps them in the running for a spot in the Super 8 tournament. Either way, the Pioneers will play hockey in March, it's just a matter of if its’ in Division 1 or 1A.

“It's important to play well,” Mead said. “Our goal this season was to have more points than last year and we've accomplished that goal. Control what we can control. Super 8, if we can get in is great. If we can't we can't.”

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