Boston High School: Kristian Hanson

Recap: No. 8 St. John's Prep 3, No. 13 Winchester 1

February, 20, 2014
Feb 20
WILMINGTON, Mass. – With zero room for error, St. John's Prep played as perfect a game as possible.

The Eagles jumped out to a lead in the first two minutes against Winchester and controlled the Sachems for much of the game en route to a 3-1 win at Ristuccia Arena. The win means that Prep will qualify for the Division 1 tournament with a win over Wakefield on Friday.

“Our tournament started about a month ago,” Prep coach Kristian Hanson said. “Tonight was absolutely do-or-die. The kids responded, they played a pretty solid game.”

Much of Prep's offense this season has run through its top line, but last night it was second-liner Ted McNamara who stole the show. McNamara scored two goals for Prep in the first period.

“Balance for team success is so critical,” Hanson said. “I didn't think our first line played well tonight honestly. They looked slow; they looked like they were off their game. It was nice to see the second line step up. We need other guys to contribute if we're going to win games. [McNamara] can definitely score goals. It was a big two he got tonight.”

For Winchester, Wednesday was another valley in an up-and-down season. Brendan Andrews scored the Sachems' lone goal with just more than two minutes left in the first period only to have McNamara answer with his second 61 seconds later.

Winchester coach Matt Spang was unenthused about his team's performance.

“We thought we had to buy tickets to the game and we played like it in the first two periods, we were just watching,” Spang said. “We decided to skate in the third, carried the play in the third, but we decided to watch for two periods. You can't watch for two periods and expect to win a hockey game.”

Ean Mendeszoon had St. John's third goal when he boomed home a shot from the point late in the second period.

LARAMIE RISES: For a first-year varsity player St. John's Prep goalie sure looked like a mature veteran between the pipes for the Eagles. The freshman turned aside 18 shots for Prep and looked smooth doing so.

“It was the type of game, especially late, where they got a lot of opportunities, and we were just sitting back,” Hanson said. “Zach had to make some big saves and he responded. That's what you need a goalie to do.

“I think tonight was a huge performance. That's what it's going to take for us to win games: goaltending. He was very solid tonight.”

When Winchester brought the pressure, Laramie sharpened even more, turning aside all eight shots he faced in the third period.

DEFENSE WINS: Winchester's top line of Brendan Greene, Nolan Redler and David Troiano is one of the most formidable in the state. Aside from Redler's secondary assist on the Sachems' goal, the Eagles were able to shut them down completely.

“All week we were emphasizing that line,” Prep defenseman Ryan Byrne said. “We just tried to shut down anything they had and we did basically.

“We knew they were tough. We just had to get on top of them and keep pounding them into the ground.”

The Eagles defense was at its best late in the third, giving up the body, dirtying up passing lanes, and pressing out to the blue lines. Prep's size advantage in the back allowed them to clog more space and suffocate Winchester.

Recap: No. 6 Cathedral 10, No. 8 Prep 2

February, 15, 2014
Feb 15
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- This one was way too easy.

Following Springfield Cathedral's 10-2 dismantling of St. John's Prep Saturday at Ristuccia Memorial Arena, two things were learned. First and foremost, the sixth-ranked Panthers, a lock for Super 8 berth, have to be considered a legitimate threat for the state's most-esteemed high school hockey title. Secondly, whatever thread of hope the eight-rated Eagles had in securing an invite to the Super 8, are history. In fact, for a team on the verge of missing the postseason completely, this was hardly a performance to write home about.

Junior center Peter Crinella scored four goals and Devan Tongue, an eighth-grader, contributed three to lead Cathedral (13-2-4).

Leading by a goal after one period, the Panthers found the back of the net four times in the middle frame to run away with it.

"St. John's is obviously in desperation mode for a playoff," said Cathedral head coach Brian Foley. "They’re big and physical and came out hard. Coming out for the second period we hoped our speed and skill would take over as the game wore on. We've got some guys who can put some pucks into the net. The three lines we've settled in on just keep getting better and better. I think we are starting to gel at the right time."

The Panthers led 2-1 heading into the first intermission, as Crinella's power play redirect score at 12:58, as it turned out, put them ahead to stay.

Cathedral gained control during the middle period. Crinella bagged another at 6:27 with a short side wrist shot past freshman goaltender Zach Laramie. Two minutes later, Tongue got into the act after taking a clean pass from Johnny Leonard and finishing it off with a nifty back hand goal stick side, making it 4-1. Only 13 seconds later, D.J. Petruzzelli added to the Panthers' lead after sniping a 25-foot blast, thus extending the margin to four goals.

"St. John's is a very good team," Foley said. "As far as I'm concerned they're still a Super 8 caliber team. They can compete with anybody so coming into this game, this was big for us. Overall, I thought we got a complete team effort from everybody today."

At 10:12, freshman Dan Petrick managed to strip the puck away from new goaltender Brian Conry's catching glove and slip it into the net, giving the Panthers a commanding 6-1 advantage after 30 minutes.

Cathedral's offensive onslaught continued into the third period. An odd-man rush with Petrick and Tongue was finished with Tongue slipping a shot into the back of the net at 5:56. The Panthers weren't through. Petruzzelli, standing just outside the Prep goal crease, added his second tally, pushing the puck past Conry's reach. Less than a minute later, Crinella, conceivably the best player in the state, recorded his fourth marker on the afternoon after burying a hard wrist shot that Conry never saw. Tongue attained his first hat trick as a Panther moments later after stealing a pass inside the Eagles defensive zone and rifling a shot past Conry (3 saves), making it a 10-1 contest before Prep senior Zach Pearce managed a score in the game's final minute.

"We started moving the puck, especially in that second period and were getting some good shots on net," Tongue said. "For me, I just tried to get pucks on the net as best I could and fortunately some were able to bounce through. Our team chemistry is a lot better than at the start of the year. It is really showing and hopefully that will get us to the Super 8."

At the outset, Crinella (team-high 24 goals) wasted no time in getting the Panthers on the board. Just 2:02 in, the Holy Cross commit ripped a shot from just outside the left circle that sailed past Laramie.

Despite recent victories over Austin Prep and Arlington Catholic, Prep still had its back firmly are against the wall in its quest for a postseason bid. Late in the first, the Eagles (7-9-2) stormed back. Nick Latham, as part of a 2-on-1 break with Mark Etherington, beat freshman goalie Keith Petruzzelli (20 saves) to tie things at 1-1.

However, just moments following the score, Prep was whistled for a questionable too many men on the ice infraction. As a result, it would lead to Crinella's go-ahead score late in the frame.

"(The officials) really had no explanation for that call," said puzzled Eagles head coach Kristian Hanson, whose club sits four points out of securing a Division 1 North playoff spot, and must now win its final two contests in order to qualify. "Our captain was out on the ice asking one of the referees regarding the circles and the other ref turns and calls us for too many men on the ice. I don't understand it.

"Was it the difference in this game? Probably not. But it certainly changed the complexion at that time because we had just scored to tie it. Obviously we got a little rattled after that and so did my goalie. We tried to compete today but we just weren't getting it. It was a bad match up for us. Now it is up to us to step up and play a better game on Wednesday (versus Winchester) and on Friday (versus Wakefield) to get into the playoffs. Hypothetically the tournament has already started for us starting this week."

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

February, 13, 2014
Feb 13
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.”

WILMINGTON, Mass. – It’s not about the finish, it’s about the start. Right?

No. 1 BC High took control of Saturday’s Catholic Conference clash with No. 9 St. John’s Prep from the get-go, scoring first little more than a minute in and running to a 2-0 advantage by the 5-minute mark.

Behind a pair of goals from senior captain Steve DeForge, BC High held on for a 4-2 win over Prep in the annual Derek Hines Memorial Game.

“It’s an honor to play in this game for Derek Hines and his family,” DeForge said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of it. When we come up here, we want to play for them as well, especially in my four years of coming up here, we’d never gotten a point.”

With the victory, BC High (8-0-2, 3-0-1 Catholic) has now earned a point in each of its first 10 games on the season.

Junior center Tim Larocque had BC High running out of the gate with a rebound putback of a Connor Noonan shot at 1:28. DeForge then followed with his first at 3:15, a power-play goal with assists from Ryan Shea and Sam Topham.

“It was a good win off the faceoff and the puck went back to Sam [Topham],” DeForge said, “he dished it back to me down low, passed it back to him and he gave a good D-to-D to [Ryan Shea]. He had a good line to me and I just put it home.”

However, St. John’s Prep (4-5-1, 0-4-1) got on the board just about a half-minute later with Jimmy Currier being the beneficiary of some slick transition play from Evan Leclerc and Nick Latham.

It remained a 1-goal game at the intermission, but BC High started the second period with fury as well. DeForge tallied his second, from Chris LaLiberte, just 40 seconds into the second.

“We just put ourselves in a hole all day by giving up, I think in the second period, another goal within the first minute,” Prep head coach Kristian Hanson said. “In the third period, [there was] a goal in the first minute. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t put a full game together – a lot of that credit goes to BC High.”

Yet, Prep was able to counter quickly again. Less than two minutes elapsed following DeForge’s second tally before Prep again cut the difference to a single goal. Latham earned his second point of the game with a power-play goal at 2:04, with Mark Etherington providing the assist.

But, according to script, BC High held serve, scoring for the third straight period in the first minute with Jake Lemanski potting his sixth goal of the season 59 seconds in.

Prep had a golden opportunity to claw closer once again, with 1:27 of 5-on-3 power-play around the 5-minute mark of the third. BC High’s defense tightened around goaltender Brandon Payzant (16 saves), allowing one shot-on-goal in the duration of the 2-man advantage.

“Now, you get out of there and you still have a two-goal lead,” BC High head coach John Flaherty said, “there was still a lot of time left on the clock, but you could have been tied or down at the end of a 5-on-3 like that.”

Honoring a hero: The true driving force behind Saturday’s matchup was the Lt. Derek Hines Soldiers Assistance Fund. The game marked the sixth year Prep has honored its fallen graduate, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2005, while deployed with the Army’s 173rd Airborne Division.

Hines, who was a standout in his time with Prep hockey, graduated to the U.S. Military Academy, where he served as a graduate assistant with the hockey team while completing Ranger and Airborne school.

In his memory, the Assistance Fund was presented with a $6,500 donation, a $2,500 increase over last year’s gift.

Saturday marked the first time in BC High’s seniors’ time playing in the game that they emerged victorious, having lost in the three previous years.

St. John's Prep is 4-2-0 in the six years of the Hines game.

Midway point: With its 10th game in the books, BC High reached the halfway marker of its season.

The Eagles hold the No. 1 ranking in our statewide Top 25 poll and they’ve only dropped points to conference rival Xaverian and Rhode Island power Bishop Hendricken in a pair of ties.

Even with its resume to date, BC High is an essential shoo-in for the Super 8 tournament, but Flaherty isn’t about to look any further down the line.

“With our schedule, we can’t look at what we’ve accomplished, we have to look at what’s ahead of us.”

Recap: No. 8 CM 2, No. 9 St. John's Prep 1

January, 12, 2014
Jan 12
WILMINGTON, Mass. – Catholic Memorial and St. John's Prep were both in search of their first marquee win yesterday at Ristuccia Arena.

The Knights got it.

After an entertaining, back-and-forth affair, No. 8 CM escaped with a 2-1 win in the Knights’ Catholic Conference opener.

“We started off pretty slow,” CM's Mike Stathopolous said. “We kind of settled down between the first and second periods and then came into the second doing stuff with the system and kind of got after it.”

Stathopolous had a solid game that culminated when he fed sophomore Paul Hardiman, who buried it in the top corner above the should of Prep goalie Brian Conroy, early in the third to put CM ahead for good.

Before CM (6-1-0, 1-0-0) was able to score the go-ahead goal, it had to stave off the Prep attack that ambushed them in the first period. Prep outshot CM 12-2 in the first period and was able to solve Brandon Collett when Mark Etherington slid behind the CM defense and scored on a pass from Jim Currier with 10 seconds remaining in the period.

“They just jumped all over us, took the play away from us,” CM coach Bill Hanson said. “They won the battles along the wall and we just said settled down. Our goaltender kept us in the game, he was terrific.”

The Knights' offense shook off the bus legs in the second period and flipped the script on Prep. CM outshot the Eagles 10-5 in the second and every offensive line had quality scoring chances. None was better than Bill Czar tipping a shot into the top corner midway through the period to tie the game.

Collett buckled down in net for the Knights and finished the game with 27 saves.

“We had to grind it out and get the win,” Collett said. “That's how it's going to be all year.”

Prep (3-4-1, 0-3-1) had plenty of chances in the third period, the Eagles put 11 shots on goal, but they were unable to tie the game.

St. John's head coach Kristian Hanson gave credit to Collett in goal but also said that his team had to be more direct offensively.

“The guys just have to crash the net more, get some garbage goals, and play dirty,” Hanson said. “When I say dirty I mean go to the net, get in the dirty areas that no one wants to stand in. That's how you score goals. A lot of the stuff we're trying to do is too cute out there. It just doesn't work.”

MR. 600: Saturday's win was a historic one for Bill Hanson as it was his 600th win at the helm of the Knights. After all the years and all the wins, Hanson said he'd lost track.

“I had no idea,” Hanson said. “I knew it would be sometime this year, but I didn't know when.”

Hanson's teams have won 17 Super 8 titles and he's coached more than two dozen NHL draft picks. Even with the victories and accolades, Hanson said he was proud to achieve the goal with this year's Knights.

“The fact that I don't keep track of it tells you a lot,” Hanson said. “It couldn't have been with a greater group of kids too. You saw that game, they're a fun group to watch.”

EMPTY BOX: Catholic Conference rivalries run deep so it was quite a surprise that not a single penalty was called during yesterday's game. Apart from one or two moments in the third period there wasn't even a non-call that angered the fans.

Both coaches gave credit to their teams playing hockey within the rules.

“They let us play, but the kids to their credit, [at] the whistle stopped,” Bill Hanson said. “No one yaps. No high sticks … just real good disciplined teams.”

“I'd rather play every game without penalties,” Kristian Hanson said. “The refs did a good job today. It was a clean game anyways. I think we made their job easy.”

Stathopolous said that it was a pleasant difference to having a flowing game on the ice.

“The refs did a great job letting us play,” Stathopolous said. “There were some things that could have been called, but if you want to play a team you want to play them five-on-five. It was a good game.”
For the third straight year, St. John’s Prep hockey produced an NHL Draft pick.

Following in the footsteps of former ESPN Boston Mr. Hockey Colin Blackwell (Harvard) and current BU Terrier Sam Kurker before him, recent Prep grad Brian Pinho became the most recent of head coach Kristian Hanson's players to hear his name on Draft day, selected by the Washington Captials in the sixth round (174th overall) on Sunday.

We caught up with the North Andover resident and Providence College commit on Monday to get his Draft night experience:

On whether he thought Washington would be destination: “I had a feeling. They were one of the teams that I had an interview and a meeting with them. I had a hunch that it might be Vancouver, Anaheim or Boston though. So I kept watching those teams as their picks came up through the rounds. But I really didn’t have a good sense where I’d go.”

On the Draft process: “There were a lot of different types of meeting. With Washington, we actually just met up at a Dunkin’ Donuts. In the meetings, you just go over your strengths and weaknesses, but the key is to be honest with them. They want you to be honest. You don’t want to say you’re the strongest skater in the world when you’re not because they already know. When I went to meet with the Bruins, it was at the Garden. I worked out, had lunch with them. Looking back on Washington, it was pretty basic. They asked me questions about my game, how I saw myself as a player and it was a background check on family, my parents, siblings, what they do. Basic stuff like that.”

On how he watched the Draft: “We stayed at home. My brother had a couple of his friends over, had a couple of my buddies over, hanging out by pool. We had a TV set up by the shed. When it got later and the bugs were out, we moved inside and watched the TV.”

On how he might fit into Washington’s system: “I think I can fit in there, being a two-way player, playing my game. Obviously, they have a lot of big scorers like [Alex] Ovechkin, [Mike] Ribeiro, but I think it would be more a two-way, defensive forward, being able to move the puck and see the ice well.”

On his offseason regimen: “Actually, I just got back in Boyle’s [gym]. I’m there at 7 a.m. with a group that has Chris Kreider in it, the Rangers forward. It’s good motivation having a guy like that around. It pushes you. Then, from 2-4, I’ll head to Ristuccia and work on my skating with Paul Vincent. I’ve been doing that for the past several years. We do a lot of edge work there, and before I started there, I’d never really don that. I was horrible at it initially, but then you get really strong on your edges and that’s really what you need at the next level. You have to be able to skate, it’s the most important part of hockey. I love Mr. Vincent, I think that I owe a lot to him.”

Super 8: Austin Prep 2, St. John's Prep 1

March, 14, 2013

LOWELL, Mass. -- Entering the season, everyone knew that Austin Prep a serious collection of talent. The knock against the Cougars was that they were very young, and that their defense might not be up to par with its offense.

As the winter progressed, those blueliners have vastly improved and grown into their roles, and because of how that unit performed in the postseason, the statement "AP is maybe a year or two away" no longer applies.

Led by senior Zach Fuller and junior Andrew Cross, the Cougars defense turned in perhaps its finest performance of the season and were a key factor in Austin's 2-1 victory over St. John's Prep in the second Div. 1A semifinal at Tsongas Center Tuesday night.

"Our defense the second half of the season has really turned it up,' praised AP head coach Louis Finocchiaro. "Andrew Cross has been playing phenomenally all year. Zach Fuller over the second half of the season has really come up big for us a senior defenseman. J.J. Layton, Matty Morgan, Leachy [Brendan Leach] and Kevin Kiley... they're playing well on that back end and no one gave them any credit in the beginning of the season. They said we couldn't win hockey games because we weren't good defensively but you know what? They're proving some people wrong and doing a fabulous job."

Throughout the Super 8, most of the focus in Austin's victories has been on goalie Elijah Harris, and rightly so. Harris was nothing short of spectacular in the two victories over Reading, and it was assumed that for Austin to have a chance against the top-seeded Eagles, Harris would have to steal it.

Instead, the defense made his life easier. Harris made 27 saves in the game but he didn't have to be spectacular like he was against Reading thanks to his defense. They did a terrific job of limiting the Prep from home run chances, they cleared the puck out of the zone often and kept the shooting lanes free and clear for Harris to do his job behind them.

A key cog in the maturation of the Cougars defense has been Cross. The junior spent two years at Malden Catholic, who will be AP's opponent in the championship game, before transferring over to Austin. His steady presence on the ice and guiding voice in the locker room has been invaluable to the rest of the young Cougars and that group is playing its best at the right time.

"I know we're very young," Cross admitted after Wednesday's game. "They've learned a lot from Coach [Finocchiaro] and I've taught them a couple of things myself about the high school game. Coming from playing select hockey and coming up to high school, thats a huge difference. We've grown as the year's gone on and playing against better competition makes you better every day. The forwards we have coming down at us in practice one on one, it's tough so we have very talented guys to up against."

Speaking of those talented forwards, they had to come through as well and the Cougars top line really shined on this stage. After a scoreless first period, the two teams looked to be headed toward another goose egg n the scoreboard in the second until, with just under six minutes remaining. Eric MacAdams delivered a perfect feed to Nolan Vesey (2 goals) for an open look that AP on the board first.

St. John's Prep answered in the third as Tyler Bird stuffed home a rebound at 6:46 and finally began to show signs of reminding everyone why they were the state's top-ranked squad for most of the season. With just 2:40 remaining, MacAdams was hauled down on a breakaway that gave the Cougars a power play, and they cashed in on a flukey bounce.

Bob Carpenter fired a shot from the right wing circle that was tipped by Cam Russo and the puck went up into the air toward the far post where Vesey was camped with St. John's senior captain Brent Murray. Vesey's stick went up at the same time as Murray's glove, and the puck went off the blue-liners hands and dropped down into the net to give Austin a 2-1 lead with 2:11 remaining.

"It was a power play and I ended up on my off side," explained Vesey. "The puck went back to Bobo Carpenter and he let a rip go. My linemate, Cam Russo, tipped it, kind of went up in the air and their defenseman's glove and my stick went up and I couldn't even tell you. I closed my eyes then I saw the puck go over the line. Thats all that matters."

The Eagles pulled goalie Billy Price (18 saves) with just over a minute remaining for the extra skater, but Harris came through with a pair of big saves in the closing seconds to finish it off.

"I thought we played a pretty good game," Eagles head coach Kristian Hanson said. "Did we play a great game? No, but I thought we played well enough to win. We've had difficulty all year capitalizing and tonight it came back to bite us. You can blame it on a number of different things but bottom line is we didn't finish and they scored one more goal than we did. It doesn't matter how it goes in, they all count the same."

For Austin Prep, there is no waiting for next year. Their time has come now.

"Obviously its great experience and for them it took a while to believe in themselves and to know how to win big games," Finocchiaro said. "It was a learning process for us and halfway through the season, we were like, 'We don't know if its going to come.' We thought it might not come this year and we may have to wait until next year because we were up and down, we were like a rollercoaster. But then our last four games of the season, we've played really well right through tonight. They got some confidence going, they believe in themselves.

"St. John's Prep is a tremendous hockey team. They've been the number one hockey team all year long and for us to beat them tonight is a huge accomplishment."

Sunday will hold extra special meaning to several Cougars, including Finocchiaro, who was a disciple of the late Chris Serino. Cross was a regular in the rotation during Malden Catholic's run to a second straight title a season ago. Now he stands as the top defenseman for Austin Prep and he knows a lot of eyes will be on him from now until Sunday.

"I'm looking forward to this game," Cross said with a smile. "I didn't think it was going to happen this way. It's going to be a dramatic game playing against my old teammates. I've known a bunch of them since I was probably about seven years old, I've been playing against them my whole life. We've just got to work hard at practice and go over the systems. We played them once already and we gave them a game. We didn't like the outcome (MC won, 4-3 in OT during the Chris Serino Holiday Tournament) the first time so we're going to be looking for some revenge."

And while MC has overcome its midseason struggles and once again looks like the team to beat, don;t think for a second that Austin Prep plans to lay down for them on the TD Garden ice.

"They won it the last two years," Vesey said almost defiantly. "There's not going to be a third time."

Super 8: St. John's Prep 4, Central Catholic 2

March, 10, 2013

STONEHAM, Mass. -- Central Catholic didn’t make its Super 8 series easy against No. 1 seed St. John’s Prep. But as the Eagles faced elimination for the second game in a row, Prep star forward Brian Pinho finally beat Colin Soucy sending his squad past the Raiders, 4-2, in Sunday’s deciding Game 3 of their quarterfinal series at Stoneham Arena.

St. John’s Prep will play Austin Prep next in the semi-finals. The Eagles won a previous game earlier this season against the Cougars, but that was along time ago.

“You can forget about the fact that we beat them in January because it’s March now,” Eagles head coach Kristian Hanson said. “What we did during a game in January means nothing. Elijah Harris is playing very well for them. He is one of the best goalies in the state, and we anticipate that he will be tough to beat.”

Pinho struggled to finish throughout the series against the Central Catholic goalie, but he rose to the occasion when his team needed him. Late in the third period, seconds after Central Catholic had tied the game; the Providence College commit finally beat Soucy.

“Brian’s a great player, but he was starting to get a little frustrated because Soucy has had his number,” Hanson said. “We talked to Brian about it, but you can’t tell a kid how to score a goal. They have to just seize the opportunity and do what they do. He had that opportunity, and he buried it.”

St. John’s (19-3-1) loses 15 seniors after this season, so losing was simply not the way the leaders of the Eagles wanted to go out. Although the group helped get the win, there is still a lot of work to do.

“None of [the seniors] wanted this to be their last game especially [since it is only] the first round. It is satisfying that we won, but we still have a lot of work to do,” Hanson said.

Billy Price locked down the Eagles’ net, as the St. John’s goalie stopped 23-of-25 Central shots.

“Billy [Price] was great today, he looked very calm and poised out there,” Hanson said. “Even when they got that goal to tie the game [in the third] he stood tall.”

Soucy (20 saves) had an incredible run in the series, and the Raiders net-minder gave his squad a legitimate shot at knocking off the top seed.

“Colin [Soucy] stepped up his play, and everyone started to believe because of his play,” Central Catholic head coach Mike Jankowski said.

After a scoreless first period, Eagles forward James Currier made a nifty spin-o-rama move before firing the puck into the twine.

The Raiders (15-7-3) came right back though as Lloyd Hayes scored the Raiders first goal for the third game in a row to even things, 1-1.

“It’s just the character of Hayes because he just goes out there and competes for us,” Jankowski said.

Before the period could end, Paul Crehan picked up a rebound that came out to him in the slot. The forward rifled a wrist shot off the crossbar and into the goal.

“We hate to put a number on it because technically that is our [fourth line], but they certainly don’t play like a [fourth line],” Hanson said. “They are very comfortable playing together, they are very effective playing together, and that was evident by the goal that Paul [Crehan] had.”

Halfway through the third period, Christian Thompson tied things up by beating Price through the five-hole, but the deadlock only lasted only 26 seconds.

Pinho finally beat Soucy as a deflected shot went straight to him. Pinho was waiting on the backdoor, and he fired the puck into the goal as Soucy could not get over in time.

“It’s the best goal I have scored in my life,” Pinho said. “Soucy probably robbed me about five times this tournament, so it felt so good to get that goal. I can’t even describe it.”

Later in the third, Tyler Bird scored on the power play to extend the Eagles. Bird picked up a rebound and he made no mistakes firing the puck past Soucy.

“At that point we were just playing regular because we were trying to [prevent] a shorthanded goal, so we just had our first line out there,” Hanson said. “They had the man advantage, so it was just a benefit to us.”

Central Catholic pulled Soucy late, but the Raiders failed to put much pressure on Price as the St. John’s defense locked down.

Recap: No. 1 Cathedral 1, No. 2 St. John's Prep 1

February, 16, 2013
WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The contrasting styles in demeanor following Saturday's 1-1 tie between No. 1 Springfield Cathedral and No. 2 St. John's Prep was not hard to witness.

On one side, you had the Eagles visibly dumbfounded and discouraged. On the other side, the Panthers presented a look of sheer relief.

For all but the final two-and-a-half minutes of this battle played at the Olympia Ice Center, St. John's Prep owned Cathedral. The Eagles suffocated the Panthers offense, giving them no time or space to generate the kind of offensive they are use to.

The one time the Eagles did give the Panthers a bit of room, it ended up biting them.

[+] EnlargeDominic Blad
Courtesy of Alfredo DiLasciaSpringfield Cathedral escaped with a 1-1 tie against No. 2 St. John's Prep Saturday, thanks to a third-period goal from winger Dominic Blad.
At 12:33 of the third period, Cathedral senior forward Dominic Blad was left all alone inside the right circle. His hard wrist shot through traffic beat Eagles' goaltender Billy Price keeping the Panthers unbeaten as they improved to 15-0-4.

The Eagles (15-2-1) will come away from this one literally kicking themselves, knowing they let a golden opportunity at victory slip through their fingers.

St. John's Prep proved the aggressor throughout, putting up 35 shots, while its defense blanketed the Panthers, holding them to a mere five over 45 minutes.

"We had a bit of a defensive breakdown with two-and-a-half minutes to go and it was the wrong time to have that," Eagles head coach Kristian Hanson said. "Then we have Billy [Price] sitting there all day not facing many shots and he's cold and it put him in a tough situation. We play strong team defense with our forwards coming back and our defense closing gaps. I thought we did a nice job with that. We didn't want to give them room to move and fortunately for the most part we were able to do that but we just couldn't get the win."

Had it not been for the spectacular play of Cathedral goaltender John Liquori, who knows how many goals the Eagles might have scored. The junior, perhaps, played his best game as a Panther, finishing with 34 saves despite the consistent onslaught put forth by the Eagles.

"It kept me on my toes because I like a lot of shots," Liquori said. "I was able to put the team on my back and ran with it. When you are getting that amount of shots you sort of get into a rhythm. Today the puck looked like a beach ball to me."

Following a scoreless first period in which St. John's Prep put up nine shots to Cathedral's two, St. John's Prep finally solved the Liquori puzzle in the middle frame.

At 7:30, senior forward Cam Sheheen, taking a centering pass from Paul Crehan, slipped a shot past Liquori to give the Eagles the lead.

Despite the many other chances St. John's Prep had in the period, it settled for the one goal lead heading into the second intermission.

Realizing their quest to remain unbeaten was in serious trouble, the Panthers took their level of play up a few notches in the third. Even though it still had problems breaking free from the Eagles' defense, Cathedral appeared to be doing a better job moving the puck away from its own zone. As a result it would pay off thanks to Blad's goal to salvage the tie.

"St. John's played real well and from a skating standpoint I thought this was the fastest tempo game we played this year," Panthers coach Brian Foley said. "For whatever reason, we weren't up for it during the first two periods, but the kids came back Liquori kept us in it. I thought we played with little more emotion in the third period and Dom [Blad] had a nice goal for us."

Recap: No. 2 St. John's Prep 4, No. 8 CM 1

January, 31, 2013
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Andrew Brandano scored twice for St. John’s Prep as the Eagles shut down Liam Coughlin and Catholic Memorial’s lethal offensive weapons, 4-1, Wednesday night, in a Catholic Conference clash.

St. John’s Prep (12-2-0, 6-1-0 Catholic Conference) goalie Billy Price continued his stellar play turning away 18-of-19 shots. Price made several big saves, including robbing Coughlin from point blank on several scoring chances.

“A lot of his saves were quality stops,” St. John’s Prep coach Kristian Hanson said. “Billy has been solid for us all season, and that was no different tonight.”

Although Coughlin was held off the score sheet that didn’t mean he played poorly because he was still a force in the offensive zone.

“He is one of the best players in high school hockey, and I think he stood out there tonight because he did a terrific job,” Catholic Memorial head coach Bill Hanson said. “It takes more than one player to win hockey games.”

Catholic Memorial (8-5-2, 2-4-0) has run into a bit of a rut going 0-4-2, but there is one thing it must do differently next game:

“Score more goals,” Bill Hanson said.

In the first period, both teams came out like a house of fire throwing bodies around on occasion. St. John’s Prep challenged Catholic Memorial goalie, Brandon Collett early and often. Collett turned away several one-time attempts from point blank, which included a sliding pad save on Justin Longo. Collett had 26 saves on the night.

“They have a young goalie [freshman], so we knew that we needed to get a lot of shots on goal (30),” St. John’s defenseman Ean Mendeszoon said.

In the second period, St. John’s Prep scored two early goals inside of the first three minutes. Brian Pinho started the scoring sliding the puck through Collett’s five-hole on a breakaway.

“[That goal] absolutely got us going because we had a poor first period,” Kristian Hanson said. “We needed something to get us going, so what was a big goal for us.”

Only 1:13 later, Cam Shaheen flung a perfect pass to Paul Crehan, who was waiting by the back post. Crehan buried the puck on a bang-bang play.

Catholic Memorial would answer on the power play though as Beau Starrett buried a rebound past Price, cutting the Eagles lead to only, 2-1.

“After they scored that power play goal it kind of put us in a little bit of a funk,” Kristian Hanson said.

Catholic Memorial’s Kevin Hock came right back on a breakaway following the Starrett goal. Hock fired a shot and followed his own rebound, but Price was able to turn away both shots.

In the final seconds of the third, Brandano tallied his first goal of the night on a play set up by Jimmy Currier. Brandano looked as if he was going to shoot as he charged the goal, but he went to the backhand.

“I thought about just shooting, but I went backhand because I saw the goalie sliding over,” Brandano said.

Brandano put the game out of reach midway through the third period, as he followed his down rebound and beat Collett.

“It was a really nice team play,” Kristian Hanson said. “We got the puck up to Currier, and he found Andrew [Brandano]. He was calm and patient with the puck because he didn’t just shoot out, and he buried it on his own rebound.

Hines' legacy preserved at St. John's Prep

January, 27, 2013

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Prior to Saturday afternoon's game against BC High, the St. John's Prep hockey team listened to a pregame talk from Steve and Sue Hines.

The Hines' are the parents of Derek Hines, a former St. John's Prep student and hockey and lacrosse player, in whose honor the game was played. After graduating from the Prep, Derek Hines went on to West Point where he continued his hockey career and graduated in 2003.

He went on to complete Ranger and Airborne school while serving as a graduate assistant with Army's hockey program before joining up with the 173rd Airborne Division. Initially stationed in Italy, Hines was ultimately deployed to his unit in Afghanistan.

On Sept. 1, 2005, in Baylough, Afghanistan, his unit came under attack while conducting security operations. Hines was shot and killed at the age of 25.

[+] EnlargeDerek HInes
Bruce Lerch for ESPNBoston.comMembers of the St. John's Prep hockey team make a presentation to the family of former Eagles standout Derek Hines. Hines, who also starred at Army, was killed in action in Afghanistan in Sept. 2005.
After completing his first season as the head hockey coach at St. John's Prep, Kristian Hanson created the Derek Hines Memorial Game, which is now in its fifth year. Inspired by Hines' tale of bravery and courage, the Eagles are 4-1 in these games after Saturday's 3-2 victory over BC High.

"For us a hockey program, to give a little bit back to the family, to give something to the foundation, it's special for us, it's special for me as a coach," Hanson described. "It's something that we started five years ago and its grown into something pretty special. Each year we look forward to it and I thought today was a wonderful day overall for the foundation."

Sue and Steve Hines talked to the Eagles about Derek's life, the can-do attitude with which he took to everything, and what it meant to them to be part of the St. John's Prep family.

Steve Hines told the team an emotional story about something his son once told a friend of his named Eddie Hill, a Newburyport native who spent 13 years playing minor league hockey and was a second round pick of the Nashville Predators in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.

"When Derek was in Afghanistan he had a chance to to talk to Eddie and he explained to Eddie about when he's in a helicopter, getting ready to jump out of a helicopter on a mission, he had the same feeling as in a locker room," Hines said after the game. "He got that same feeling in the helicopter he got in the locker room before a game and that's what I talked to them about. I said, 'You're part of something special and this feeling, not everyone gets to experience that.'"

The speech was so inspiring that Hanson didn't say a word to his team when Mr. Hines was finished speaking. He didn't need to.

"It's such a good cause and when Mr. Hines came in and talked to us, Coach Hanson didn't have to say anything afterward," said Eagles junior forward Jimmy Currier, who was the star of the game with two spectacular goals. "Everything he said ... he gave us his whole story ... his work ethic ... never give up and do it for your team and for everyone around you."

The team had a surprise in store for the Hines family as well. Through fundraising efforts, the players earned enough money to not only make a sizable donation to the 1st Lt. Derek Hines Soldiers Assistance Fund, but also to purchase new uniforms emblazoned with the Stars & Stripes in Derek's honor. The most important jersey of all was one bearing the number 23 and the Hines name, which hung behind the Eagles bench during the game.

Sue and Steve went on the ice before the game where St. John's Prep Athletic Director Jim O'Leary and the team presented them with a check for $4,000 for the foundation.

"He means a lot to our community," O'Leary said. "The parents, there's a scholarship they have at school plus they have this foundation. His brothers played here afterwards also so they are part of our community. As long as Kristian is here and I'm here, we're going to continue to do this kind of thing for them. They're outstanding people."

BC High coach John Flaherty and his team were looking forward to this game as well. Flaherty spoke earlier in the week about what an honor it is for BC High to chosen to participate in the Hines Game for the third straight year and opened his postgame remarks Saturday with thoughts of the Hines family.

"It was a great game for a great person," Flaherty said. "To honor Derek Hines like they're doing, it's quite a tribute and its well deserved. BC High is honored and privileged to be a part of this game. To see Mr. and Mrs. Hines out there accepting a check to help their foundation, it's great."

For the Hines family, the incredible outpouring of support they have received since Derek's tragic passing has been invaluable. While nothing will ever erase the grief of the tragedy they've endured, like so many other military families across the nation, the efforts of the St. John's Prep community have been as helpful as it gets in coping.

"All of this is about people helping people," Mrs. Hines explained. "People helping us deal with the grief that we've had. We can't change what happened but we can use the donations that they give us to make a difference in a soldier's life. It's amazing how the love from these people helps us to help other people."

Recap: No. 3 St. John's Prep 3, No. 2 BC High 2

January, 27, 2013

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Jimmy Currier had scored but one goal all season for St. John's Prep entering Saturday's Catholic Conference showdown with league-leading BC High.

It's safe to say Currier is officially "off the schneide."

The junior delivered a pair of highlight reel goals in the second period, one to tie the game, the other serving as the eventual game-winner as the third-ranked Prep claimed a 3-2 victory over No. 2 BC High at in the Fifth Annual 1st Lt. Derek Hines Memorial Game at Ristuccia Arena.

"Jimmy's capable of that and we've felt that way all year," praised Prep coach Kristian Hanson. "He's a really talented offensive player. I see it in practice and sometimes it takes one out there to give a kid confidence to go out and do it again. After he got that first one today, you could see it in him - he was confident handling the puck. It was a beautiful shot on that third goal. Jimmy had a great offensive day today."

The victory pulls the Prep (11-2-0 overall; 5-1-0 CC) into a tie with BC High (9-2-2; 4-1-2) atop the league standings with ten points apiece with a game in hand. Thanks to Malden Catholic's 4-3 victory over Catholic Memorial Saturday evening, St. John's can clinch its first league title since 1994 outright with wins over the Knights and Xaverian next week.

Currier's work on both tallies was a thing of beauty. Just one minute after BC High took a 2-1 lead on a goal by Tom Besinger, Currier went end-to-end, weaving around a pair of defenders like pylons before switching back to his forehand just in time to stuff the puck inside the far post at 6:12.

"When I was coming down, I had my feet moving a lot and after I cut to the middle I saw [linemate Andrew] Brandano and I was like, 'I should have gave it to him' and I just ended up going around him and putting it in," Currier described.

Just under five minutes later, Currier found himself with the puck in the right wing corner deep in the BC High zone. He floated out high and left, all the way over the top of the circle and fired a wrist shot through traffic back to the right side to give his club a 3-2 lead it would not relinquish.

"When I come out of the corner there it brings up so many options," the junior recalled. "I was coming across, moving left to right and the goalie was moving left to right. I just shot it far side and he didn't see the shot because there was a screen in front."

The Prep scored the game's first goal in equally spectacular fashion. Sprung loose up the right wing by one of his defensemen, Cam Shaheen worked his through the BC High zone, pushed the puck between the skates of his defender, then whirled around him and fired a wrist shot while dropping to one knee at 6:49 of the first.

BC High responded just over two minutes later as freshman defenseman Ryan Shea unleashed a rocket from the point for a power-play marker. BC High grabbed its first lead at 5:12 of the second when Besinger swooped in and buried the rebound of a shot by Sam Topham.

"They are a very good team and we knew that coming in and we skated with them," BC High head coach John Flaherty said. "They're a junior-senior team and they are very good. Brian Pinho, Jack McCarthy, Tyler Bird - those kids are as good as any kid around."

"You know they're coming at you and you know you've got to hang in there for the ride," he continued. "The fact that we skated with them for three periods and we were able to hang around and almost have a chance to tie the game at the end, that's a positive. It's an emotional game for them. A tribute to one of their all-time good players at St. John's Prep so its an emotional game for them. We knew that coming in and I'm proud of my guys for hanging in there for three periods and giving ourselves a chance at the end."

Recap: No. 3 St. John's Prep 5, No. 9 MC 2

January, 23, 2013

MALDEN, Mass. – When hockey coaches talk about rolling four lines, there’s usually an assigned order that comes with such a statement. The top six forwards are called upon to score, and the third and fourth lines are supposed to bring the grit and, at times, shoulder the responsibilities of shutting down the other team’s top offensive threats.

Yet, St. John’s Prep head coach Kristian Hanson views his four lines not as ranked No. 1 through No. 4. Instead, they bear colors. The Eagles’ “Green Line” of Paul Crehan, Justin Longo and Cam Shaheen might not be viewed as Prep’s top offensive line by opposing teams, but they were the difference in Tuesday’s 5-2 win over Catholic Conference rival Malden Catholic.

“The Green Line played really well for us tonight, that’s the line of [Justin] Longo, [Paul] Crehan and [Cam] Shaheen, they were possibly our best offensive line through the first couple of periods. Obviously, Paul getting that goal in the third period was really big for us.”

Crehan scored what proved to the game-winning goal, igniting a three-goal outburst in the third period.

The teams skated 2-2 after two periods, but the Eagles (10-2-0, 4-1-0) ran out to an early 2-0 lead, scoring on two of their first three shots on goal.

Despite the early deficit, MC (4-5-3, 0-4-2) controlled the possession game in the first period, outshooting Prep, 12-5. Eagles goaltender Billy Price stood tall in face of the Lancers’ first period onslaught, highlighted by a string of three straight point-blank chances on the power play.

Derek Osbahr had Prep to a 1-0 lead at 1:53 of the first, scoring on a partial breakaway. It was the Eagles’ first shot on goal. Shaheen increased the lead to two goals at the 12-minute mark of the first, breaking in off the left wing and going stickside with the wrist shot.

The Lancers rallied to draw even, scoring their first in the final minute of the first on Ara Nazarian’s power play goal and then on Matt Filipe’s equalizer at 11:12 of the second.

“It’s always a big game when we play MC,” Shaheen said. “We’ve had such a big rivalry with them the last three years we’ve played them. We know they’re a third-period team, so we said in the locker room, before we came out … We needed to be the team that stepped up and made plays in the third period. That’s what we did. We made big plays and that’s why we won the game.”

Crehan gave Prep the lead for good, knocking in a rebound while driving the net, scoring on the backhand while going tumbling into the end wall.

Tyler Bird closed out the victory two goals later in the third, his first coming on a tip attempt on the power play.

The Lancers earned two misconduct penalties in the game’s final minutes, including a game misconduct.

With Tuesday’s victory, Prep tied BC High atop the Catholic Conference standings with their eighth point. BC High is in action again Wednesday night against Xaverian and Saturday’s featured bout is the second round of Eagles vs. Eagles.

“Every point is important,” Hanson said. “Whether it’s Malden Catholic, or Xaverian, whatever team it is you have to bring your best effort.”

The Eagles know what’s ahead of them, and they’ll need to bring their best effort to erase a 2-0 loss to BC High on Jan. 9. But Prep also has the goal of winning its first Catholic Conference title since 1994 on the horizon.

“We have a lot of seniors on this team, we all have the same goals,” Shaheen said. “We want to make it far as we can in the playoffs and we’re on the road right now. We just want to make it to our best potential.”

Recap: No. 3 SJP 5, No. 6 Austin Prep 1

January, 20, 2013

STONEHAM, Mass. -- Reading a 5-1 box score on paper looks as though the winning team had its way offensively. But, in hockey, as in many team sports, numbers can belie how important a sound defense is to influencing offensive prowess.

That was certainly the case Saturday night in No. 3 St. John’s Prep’s 5-1 non-league win over No. 6 Austin Prep, dealing the Cougars their first loss of the season. The Eagles’ victory was enabled by a stifling defensive display by their blue-liners. St. John’s held the Cougars in the single digits in shots on goal for the game, outshooting the Cougars 31-9 and controlling the flow of the game.

The Eagles were so effective in their own end, at times, it was easy to overlook them.

“We just played solid D and kept it simple, getting the puck up to the forwards, grinding, getting the puck out,” junior defenseman Evan Leclerc said. “We were just playing simple, true hockey.”

The Eagles (9-2-0) also played with the lead nearly from the get-go, as Tyler Bird opened scoring at 2:43 of the first on a partial break, sprung by an outlet pass from Ryan Byrne. St. John’s went to the room after the first with a 2-0 advantage after Cam Shaheen’s third goal of the season, with assists from Justin Longo and Paul Crehan.

They kept the pedal to the medal, starting the second period with a goal just 58 seconds in. Leclerc tallied his first of the season after some nice work down low by forwards Brian Pinho and Andrew Brandano.

The Cougars (6-1-3) broke up the shutout bid at 8:22 of the second with Brent Hill setting up a snipe from George Sennott.

The Eagles rounded out the second with Longo tallying his second point of the game, tallying an unassisted goal on a broken play.

Jack McCarthy increased St. John’s lead to four at 1:53 of the third.

“Coming in, Austin Prep was undefeated, so we knew it was going to be a tough game,” Eagles head coach Kristian Hanson said. “I think the kids really rose to the challenge tonight. I think from the first shift that our energy was pretty good. We have good team speed, but when we want to be physical, I think we can be a dominating physical team. I think we did that well tonight.”

Even with a goal in two, the most impressive part of Leclerc’s game came in the Eagles’ defensive zone. Leclerc thwarted a couple of Cougars rushes with bone-rattling hits.

“He was very physical,” Hanson said. “Yeah, he had the goal, but we thought he did a lot of little things. He was quick, he was physical, he made good decisions with the puck. He was one of our best guys out there tonight.”

Along with the all-around solid effort of its defenseman, including Brent Murray and Ean Mendeszoon, St. John’s also saw its depth in play.

Longo, a fourth-liner, chipped in with a two-point game (1G, 1 A).

“He’s an unsung hero type, but he’s had some huge goals for us this year,” Hanson said of Longo. “He’s a fourth-line guy, but he has the skill level of a first or second line guy. That fourth line has really played well this year. They play well in any kind of situation.”

Recap: No. 3 Prep 5, No. 16 Xaverian 0

January, 17, 2013
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- With only three seconds remaining in the second period, St. John’s Prep senior forward Brian Pinho pounced on a Xaverian turnover and wristed a shot under the crossbar that broke open a game that, at least on the scoreboard, was still close.

That goal gave Prep a 3-0 lead heading into the final period and clearly deflated the Hawks, which had hoped to go into the third still within a couple of goals.

“To give that one up with three seconds was a real poor mistake that we made,” Xaverian head coach Dave Spinale said. “That gave them that life and it deflated us a little. That’s something we have to correct down the road.”

He added, “We come out and make it 2-1 and it’s a whole new ballgame. We hurt ourselves tonight.”

The goal was the first of two for Pinho, who had a hand in each of the Eagles’ tallies in a 5-0 rout of their Catholic Conference rival on Wednesday night at the Foxborough Sports Center. Pinho finished the game with two goals and three assists.

Xaverian (4-4-2, 0-2-2 Catholic Conference) just could not contain Prep’s captain.

“Brian, in my opinion, you could argue is the best player in the state,” said Eagles coach Kristian Hanson. “It’s not all about goal-scoring. He creates opportunities for other guys, he draws a lot of attention to himself, he can dish the puck, he can play defense…we utilize him in every aspect of the game.”

No. 3 Prep (8-2-0, 3-1-0) dominated the action from the opening whistle. Junior forward Jack McCarthy scored a power play goal just 2:30 into the game to give the Eagles an early lead and Xaverian spent much of the opening 15 minutes defending deep in their own zone. The Hawks were back on their heels and made a number of blocks and deflections to protect goalie Matt Michaels (19 saves).

Hanson felt his team was fully prepared for the game and, despite a long bus ride to Foxboro, was the team with the most energy to start the game.

“We definitely looked like we were prepared to play tonight,” Hanson said. “We talked about the game a lot the past couple of days. We know that Xaverian is the type of team that can beat anyone. It’s always tough to get on the bus and come down to Foxborough, so we’re pleased with the final result.”

The second period was more even with both teams struggling to create clear-cut scoring opportunities. The best chance for Xaverian was created by junior forward Brian Cahalane. He slid the puck through the crease while falling towards the boards and it caromed off the skate of a Prep defender and agonizingly wide of the far post.

With 3:11 remaining in the second period, Pinho fired a defense splitting pass across two lines and hit Nic Gianelli in stride. The senior drove at Michaels and finished with a backhand that slipped through the 5-hole to make it 2-0.

Spinale was not impressed with his team’s effort in an important conference game and was blunt about what he thought of the performance.

“I thought we were unfortunately flat all night,” he remarked. “That’s probably our worst effort of the year and it came at a bad time. They were better in all three zones. They were faster, more skilled, they were just better all the way around.”

The Hawks had an opportunity on the power play early in the third period, which might have gotten them back in the game. Instead, Prep turned it into a goal of its own when Gianelli returned the favor with a quick outlet pass to Pinho, who held off the defender and dragged the puck across goal to score.

Gianelli and Pinho combined to set up linemate Andrew Brandano with little more than four minutes remaining in the game to complete the scoring. Prep goalie Billy Price (20 saves) kept out a late Hawks flurry for the shutout.

Prep will face No. 6 Austin Prep in Stoneham on Saturday night, while Xaverian travels to face No. 18 Chelmsford on Monday.