Boston High School: Matt Michals

D1 South: Xaverian 2, Duxbury 1 (SO)

March, 3, 2013
BOURNE, Mass. -- Xaverian certainly felt that justice was done when the dust settled at Gallo Ice Arena on Saturday afternoon as the 13th-seeded Hawks (9-7-5) scored a first-round MIAA state tournament win over fourth-seeded Duxbury (14-4-5).

Twice during the contest it appeared that Xaverian had scored a goal, only to have it disallowed. The Hawks thought they had scored an insurance marker at the end of the second period, only to have the officials rule that time had expired nanoseconds before the puck crossed the goal line. In overtime, Antonio Marini’s poke at his own rebound evaded Duxbury’s Chris Johnson and looked to be covered up in the net by a defenseman’s hand, and taken out.

Again the call didn’t go their way, and the game remained knotted at 1-1 and headed to a shootout after 57 minutes of hockey.

Hawks head coach Dave Spinale said that his team didn’t get down when the bounces did not go their way and that enduring that adversity paid off in the end. He implored the Hawks to remain focused, and work.

“We felt we had a couple of goals, but the referee explained to me that we didn’t, so we just kept going,” the coach said.

The shootout, like the game, was low-scoring and close. Of the nine skaters to take aim, only Eddie Pratt, of Xaverian, was able to sneak one by. Pratt, the first shooter for his team, temporarily lost the handle on his way to the net, but regained the handle and sniped one by Johnson to the stick side to put his team ahead.

Hawks goalie Matt Michals did the rest. After denying 27 of the 28 shots that Duxbury fired at him during the game, Michals stopped all five Duxbury penalty shooters. Each Dragon made bids to the stick side, low, but Michals flashed the right leg pad and kept all of them from getting past to move his team into the Division I south quarterfinals, where they will meet fifth-seeded Marshfield on Monday night at 7:30 in Bourne.

“Matty’s a junior, a two-year starter, he’s so focused,” Spinale said of his netminder. “He’s been great for us all year, he’s just a true competitor. They could have sent all 20 guys, but he was so dialed in. He wanted this win for these guys.

“His angles were good, he was attacking the puck and playing big.”

The lone mistake that Michals made in the game came in the third period. Xaverian scored early, and clung to that lead most of the way, but Duxbury’s Mike Doyle was able to collect the equalizer at 4:51 of the third as he camped on the far post and tipped home a shot from the right side by Nick Marrocco.

Duxbury, which owned the second period and parts of the third, was lifted by the Doyle score and thought that they were on their way at that point.

“It gave us a second life, we tried to keep things simple,” Duxbury head coach John Blake said. “We knew that the goalie was outstanding, so we thought our best chance was a rebound goal, or deflection, something like that to try to win it. They blocked a lot of shots, they kept us on the outside. I thought they did a nice job with their game plan.”

Xaverian’s lone goal during regulation proved that the difference between scoring and not scoring is often in the details, and it was a little thing that allowed the Hawks to grab the lead. Senior forward John Greeley came up with a failed clearing attempt by the Dragons on the left wing, collected it and spun to the net through the faceoff circle.

As Greeley’s skates split the faceoff dot, he gave a little cross-over deke, more a shrug than a move, but it was just enough to get Johnson to lean to his right a bit.

That move opened up the far post for Greeley, and he used it. The winger rifled one to the top, far corner, beating Johnson to the glove side at 6:41 of the first.

Johnson, and the entire Duxbury team, gave an effort that worthy of advancing into the quarters according to their coach. But, Blake said, at tournament time, it might come down to penalty shots, and that’s just the way that it goes.

“It is [a tough way to lose], but we know the rules and that’s what you sign up for,” Blake said. “I thought our guys left everything on the ice…I think they deserved a better fate, but the puck didn’t bounce our way.”

Going forward, things don’t get any easier for Xaverian. Next up for them is Atlantic Coast League champion Marshfield (17-6-0). The teams met way back in December, in a game where defense was hard to find. Xaverian won that night, 9-7. The Hawks hope for a similar outcome, but expect a much tighter hockey game this time around.

“I think Marshfield’s going to be a real good test. Both teams are playing well. I think it’s going to be a battle,” Spinale said.

Recap: No. 7 CM 4, No. 13 Xaverian 2

February, 22, 2013

CANTON, Mass. -- A third-place finish in one of the toughest conferences in hockey today may see Catholic Memorial with a bye in the Super 8 next week.

The No. 7 Knights helped boost their post season stock and solidified the third-seed in the Catholic Conference with a season-ending 4-2 afternoon victory over No. 13 Xaverian at Canton SportsPlex.

“We are getting much more shot production from the defensemen, which is allowing the dirty goals,” Catholic Memorial head coach Bill Hanson said. “The last four games we needed to play well against real good teams to be considered for the Super 8. According to the criteria (of) who is playing well at the end, of strength of schedule, and other factors, we have more than met that.”

Two goals in the second period helped the Knights pull ahead for good on way to their fourth consecutive victory.

Catholic Memorial's Jack O'Hear used a 3-on-2 break to set up fellow senior Liam Coughlin at 6:03 in the second period for a 2-1 Knights' lead. Coughlin caught the back-pass above the face-off circle then finished with a low bullet to the right post for the tally at 6:03 of the second period.

Eight minutes later, O'Hear picked up his second helper of the game, slipping a shot under the keeper. Kevin Hock was there to bang the puck home for a two-goal CM advantage.

“I took it wide and Liam [Coughlin] did a nice job of [moving] into the slot,” O'Hear said of his first assist. “The second assist was a loose puck and I threw it towards the net. Getting pucks to the net and having guys drive wide.”

Xaverian (8-7-5, 1-5-2) threatened late when Tim Sweeney (1 G, 1 A) threw the puck across the crease for Jake Farrell at the 12-minute mark of the third to cut the deficit to one.

“Two to three guys on the puck,” Xaverian head coach David Spinale said. “[You to make] them have to fish one out then take it to the net.”

“I knew Jake [Farrell] is always out front, so I just spun a little and got it out front,” Sweeney added.

Knights senior John Maher grabbed a neutral-zone steal and tapped in an open-net tally to seal the game with 1:09 remaining.

“We play with a lot of energy,” Hanson said. “We had five or six kids who scored in double figures for us [this season]."

Xaverian came out strong by forcing six of their first seven shots-on-target, but allowed the initial score at 4:09 in the first period. CM senior Dennis Medeiros ripped a screened slap shot into the four-hole for a 1-0 lead.

Sweeney caught the goalie offset on the equalizer, when a shot by freshman teammate Jon Beniers rolled over the keeper's shoulder and onto Sweeney's stick at 1:56 in the first.

“Timmy [Sweeney], Jon [Beniers] and Jake [Farrell] that was our best line today," Spinale added.

CM (12-6-2,3-5) controlled possession in the second period with a 15-7 shots-on-goal advantage. Knights freshman goalie Brandon Collett made 26 saves, while his opponent, junior Matt Michals, knocked away 25 shots.

“The difference between this year and last year, Number One is the goaltending,” Hanson commented on Collett. “A goal gets scored on him [and] he does not let it bother him. He learns from his mistakes.”

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.”