Boston High School: John Stillman

Recap: No. 2 BC High 4, No. 17 Xaverian 2

January, 24, 2013

BOSTON -- No. 2 BC High had plenty ahead of it entering Wednesday night’s Catholic Conference duel with No. 17 Xaverian. Aside from keeping pace in league play, the Eagles had the opportunity to wrap up an early tournament berth

The Eagles did all of the above while remaining unbeaten in the Catholic Conference with a 4-2 win over the Hawks at UMass-Boston.

“It was a qualifying game for us so we wanted to win it, plus it’s a big two points for us in the Conference,” BC High head coach John Flaherty said. “You have to take those opportunities when they come.”

The Eagles (9-1-2, 4-0-2) reestablished a two-point lead over St. John’s Prep atop the Conference standings, leading into Saturday’s duel at Ristuccia Arena.

But BC High had its hands full with the physical Hawks (4-5-3, 0-3-2), who jumped out to 1-0 first period lead on Brian Cahalane’s power-play goal at 12:06. Cahalane cut across the goal line to stuff in backhander to the short side of Eagles goaltender Peter Cronin.

However, BC High struck for the equalizer before the period was out. Seconds after an Eagles power play expired, Chris LaLiberte wristed home a shot with 29 seconds remaining in the period, with assists from Michael Brooks and John Stillman.

Neither team was able to generate much offense in the second period, despite sharing three power-play opportunities. The Eagles held a slim 14-9 lead in shots on goal through 30 minutes.

BC High claimed its first lead of the game at 7:11 of the third period with Brooks tallying his second point of the game, sneaking one past Matt Michals (19 saves) off a broken play.

Xaverian fired back less than a minute later with its second power play goal of the game. Eddie Pratt blasted a slap shot, working the blue line on the man-up unit, from the point off a feed from Jake Farrell.

The momentum shifted back to the Eagles moments later when Pat Kramer scored what would prove to be the game-winner at 9:34. Kramer’s wristshot from the right wing circle was set up by an expert drop pass from Eagles junior captain Tom Besinger.

“[Besinger] is able to draw attention to himself and when Pat [Kramer] saw that, he put himself in position to receive a pass,” Flaherty said.

BC High closed out the victory with Brooks tallying his second goal of the game and third point of the contest with an empty-netter.

Despite having nothing to show for it in the standings, the Hawks were effective on specialty teams, going 2-for-5 on the power play and shutting out BC High on four power play chances.

In addition to their keen defense on the man-down, Xaverian was consistently able to bottle up the Eagles coming through the neutral zone. It limited BC High’s scoring chances, particularly in the first two periods, and helped to bog down the Eagles’ fleet-footed forwards.

“We’ve been trying to clog the middle up a little bit more,” Hawks head coach Dave Spinale said. “You have [the first forward] take the pass away, then the [second and third forward] fill the middle and try to make them go cross-ice instead of up the middle. I thought we were pretty effective there and that’s a big part of their game.”

The Eagles could control their own destiny, in terms of claiming the Catholic Conference title, if they can sweep the season series from Prep on Saturday.

It’s one of the goals BC High’s leaders set at the start of the season.

“We set a goal to win the Catholic Conference,” said Brooks, a senior captain. “We haven’t won it, but it’s another step closer. This is the earliest we’ve ever qualified [for the tournament] and that’s a good feeling. I’ve been here four years, so it’s a good feeling.”

Recap: No. 2 BC High 5, No. 19 St. John's (S) 2

December, 18, 2012

BOSTON, Mass. -- A highly anticipated matchup of two of the state's top netminders ended up taking a backseat to a couple of periods of tremendous BC High pressure and balance across the scoresheet.

Five Eagles scored goals and Chris LaLiberte dished out a pair of assists as No. 2 BC High broke the game open with four scores in the second period and held on for a 5-2 victory over the 19th-ranked Pioneers at UMass-Boston's Clark Athletic Center Monday night.

Both Peter Cronin (BC High) and Mario Pizzeri (St. John's) were tabbed as ESPN Boston preseason All-State goalies and are expected to be key contributors as each club vies to return to the Super Eight in March. Pizzeri got off to a strong start, stopping 12 shots in the first period as the Eagles applied relentless pressure and outshot the Pioneers by a 13-2 margin.

The one that got through belonged to sophomore forward Connor Noonan, who stole the puck off the stick of a Pioneers defenseman, continued his momentum around the net and fired home a wrist shot to give BC High a 1-0 lead at 7:05 of the first.

Knowing that solving Pizzeri was no easy task, the Eagles looked to create chances by sending waves of bodies toward the Pioneers crease, hoping to create enough havoc to slip a couple through. They did exactly that in the second as freshman Billy Roche, junior All-Stater Tom Besinger and sophomores Tim Larocque and Jake Lemanski all knocked home pucks to help BC High extend its lead to 5-0 after two.

"He’s a very good goalie, he’s a big goalie, and he does a very good job of controlling the puck so we’ve been doing our best to try and get as many as we could to the net and get as many bodies to the net as we could," said Flaherty, explaining his team's gameplan against Pizzeri. "With a big kid like that, if you let him see the puck, he’s going to make the saves. Our hope was that we were going to get a lot of shots on him and we would get to the net with our sticks down and try to bang something home."

Roche's goal came courtesy of a beautiful pass from LaLiberte, who sent a perfect cross-ice pass to the freshman who was hustling from behind the play for the easy one-timer. Just under four minutes later, LaLiberte sent Besinger on a long rush, and the junior flashed across from the left wing to the middle to beat his man and catch Pizzeri down on the ice.

In the waning minutes of the second, the Eagles got another odd-man rush with Sam Topham flicking a pass across to Noonan in the middle for a tap over to Larocque for another open one-timer. 32 seconds later, Lemanski got into the act with assists from John Stillman and Aidan Foley.

"If you saw the goals, they were pretty much all right around the net," Flaherty continued. "That's what we knew we had to do because he’s a good goalie. We knew if we were going to have a chance to beat him it was going to be that way."

The Pioneers got one back early in the third as Chris Coveney and Danny Barlock executed a pretty, give-and-go with Coveney providing the finishing touch at 2:58. St. John's would another late as Connor Maloney tipped in a Bryan Nelson blast for the final margin.

The Eagles shorthanded unit had a particularly strong night, killing off all five power play chances for St. John's. With the extra man, BC High was 1-for-4 but created numerous scoring chances with only the strong play of Pizzeri keeping them from burying any more.

"We were moving the puck pretty well on the power play and guys were moving around, I think we got five or six shots on one power play alone," Flaherty said. "We felt comfortable and confident moving the puck around and getting pucks through. Man down, we have some guys who have been doing it for a couple of years with Ryan McDonough and Michael Brooks, Chris LaLiberte, Tom Besinger and Stevie DeForge. Those guys are up front, they work hard and they can fly so our hope that we were going to pressure them and make sure they didn't have clean shots and didn't have clean opportunities and I think we did that man down."

The Pioneers never let down for a second despite the 5-0 deficit and managed to control the tempo in the final frame while scoring a pair of goals. It was the kind of effort that coach Brian Murphy could smile about and gives his charges something on the plus side to take with them.

"It was a good test for us and I thought that we responded well, especially in the third period," Murphy said. "We've got some work to do and we're willing to put the time in and see if we can't improve as the year goes on. We've got these guys again at home at the last game of the season so if we can continue to progress and work hard and get a little bit better every day, we'll see where we are the end of the season.

Saturday afternoon at Clark Athletic Center, BC High hosts Rhode Island power Mount St. Charles in special contest designated as the Eagles 150th anniversary celebration game. The school has been in existence for 150 years and each team picks one game to serve as its special tribute.

Alumni, family and friends of the program are invited to come to a pregame skate from 3-4 p.m., followed by a special reception before the puck drops against the Mounties at 4:30 p.m.