MARLBOROUGH, Mass. – In the end, it wasn't so much a victory as it was total domination.
Whenever Shrewsbury and crosstown rival St. John's square off it goes without saying the Colonials always have this game circled on their calendars. The fact that both schools are separated by less than two miles only enhances the heated rivalry which has expanded 30 years, predominantly owned by the Pioneers.
Most will agree this annual meeting means more to Shrewsbury – a Division 3 program that rarely gets the opportunity to play up two divisions against a Division 1 opponent like St. John's.
Anytime the Colonials can come out victorious has become even rarer. But on Saturday night, they did just that. No. 24 Shrewsbury scored the first six goals before settling on a 6-3 triumph in front of a packed house at New England Sports Center.
The defending D3 state champions carried the play over the first 30 minutes and never looked back as they improve to 5-1-0.
As has been their M.O. this season, the Pioneers started slow, showed a lack of team unity and would never recover, dropping to 1-6-1.
Goals by Joe Buduo just 3:58 into the contest proceeded later by a Jack Quinlivan long-range laser had Shrewsbury in front by a pair going into the first intermission. During the first two frames, the Colonials were flying at both ends of the ice, often times catching St. John's out of position or just standing around watching the play develop.
"I was very happy with our emotion and how we played tonight," Colonials head coach Steve Turnblom said. "We were very aggressive on the forecheck and did a good job coming back on our backchecks. We also had a lot of blocked shots, which we were trying to do. We played three zones for the first two periods but we ran around a bit in the third.
“I wasn't happy with our third period because I felt we needed to mature better. To be a champion you have to tighten those sort of things up."
The last time Shrewsbury defeated St. John's came back in the 2009-10 season. The two teams battled to a 2-2 draw last season.
The Pioneers were out-manned and out-hustled from the get-go. In most cases, a two goal deficit after one period is still considered salvageable.
But not for St. John's, as it continues to struggle in search of an identity. The Pioneers inability to find the back of the net (22 goals for, 33 goals against) has become a painful topic of concern with the chances of them qualifying for the Division 1 North postseason tournament quickly diminishing.
"It concerns me that the kids are not ready to go before the start of a game," said St. John's head coach Mike Mead. "We did everything as a coaching staff to get them ready for tonight. We told them how ready and how good Shrewsbury would be. We told them that we needed to attack them and counter-punch them but we couldn't.”
Shrewsbury's assault within the Pioneer zone carried over into the second period. It took only 33 seconds before Trevor Shea was able to flip the puck over goalie Alex Franchi, after the junior was left sprawled out on the ice after making an initial stop. A few moments later, after the Colonials managed to kill off a St. John's 5-on-3 advantage, Buduo would take over. The senior center tallied Shrewsbury's next two goals to record the hat trick and pad the Colonials' margin to 5-0.
"I thank my line mates Matt (Ward) and Trevor (Shea)," said Buduo. "All of those goals are because of them. They both gave me nice feeds tonight. I couldn't have done it without them. Our chemistry on all of our lines is very good. Anytime you can beat St. John's it is a great feeling, especially in the way we dominated the game."
The Colonials added insult to injury late in the period, while playing shorthanded, after Matt Ward poked in a loose puck in front of the crease.
With only 42 seconds to go, the Pioneers finally had something to cheer about when Pat Storer scored an unassisted goal, making it 6-1, heading into the final period.
For whatever reason, Shrewsbury didn't come out with the same type of tenacity seen during the first two periods. That, in turn, allowed Kevin Quinlivan and Garrett Lahan to find the back of the net, cutting the deficit to three.
Despite putting up 13 of their 29 shots in the frame, the Pioneers found the margin to large to comeback from as Shrewsbury junior netminder Shane Gorrie came up huge with some big stops between the pipes in the period. The Colonials finished with 28 shots.
"Shane played a solid game," Turnblom said. "He played cool and made some great saves when we needed him to. Emotion was starting to go St. John's way in the third and Shane shut them down.
“We knew this was going to be war just like any other year. It's all about emotion. It's a big rivalry and all of the guys from both teams know one another. I think we've beaten them three times in the last 30 years. But we got them this year so I'm very happy.”