Boston High School: Mike Mead

Recap: No. 5 Xaverian 9, No. 12 St. John’s (S) 2

February, 20, 2014
Feb 20

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Jon Beniers scored twice in the second period as Xaverian broke open a tie game on its way to a blowout over visiting St. John’s (Shrewsbury) in Wednesday’s meeting of teams with Super 8 aspirations at the Foxboro Sports Center.

“This was a critical game because both teams were on the board for a potential Super 8, whether it’s a play-in game or right in,” said Xaverian coach Dave Spinale. “I think it gives us a lot of momentum. Our offense has really been clicking lately and to see it against a real quality club like this was really impressive.”

The Hawks jumped all over the Pioneers early in the first period tallying the first nine shots of the game and establishing a two-goal lead on scores by Tim Sweeney and Trevor McQuade. Sweeney also had a shot cleared off the line and Antonio Marini and Beniers each saw shots ring off the post.

St. John’s managed to turn the game around with a pair of goals in the final 4:05 of the first. Michael Parente’s shot from the point went through a number of bodies in front before finding the top corner and then Chris Adams buried a rebound to tie the game at 2-2.

Xaverian took over the game in the second period. Andrew Durkin got it started with 10:55 remaining as he raced past the defense on a delayed penalty call to give the Hawks back the lead. Five minutes later it was Beniers’ turn.

The sophomore tapped in a goal after a great feed by Marini to make it 4-2 and then that combo worked its magic once again just a little more than a minute later to make it a three-goal cushion.

“After getting the two goal lead and then kind of giving that back, we needed to come back so it was big to get that three-goal lead going into the third,” said Beniers after the game.

He added, “It shows that we can persevere through adversity, you know. We kind of came in and calmed down. Everybody was intense after letting them back into it so just come ourselves down and get back out there and have that big second period.”

“He’s the kind of young man that plays so hard and plays so fast that it really just picks everybody else up. He can create offense because of the speed that he plays at.” said Spinale about Beniers, who started the year as the second line center, but was moved up to the top line early in the season.

In the third period, the Hawks continued to dominate and tacked on extra goals to pad the lead and ensure that there would be no late comeback that might steal the points. Connor McCarthy celebrated his senior night with a pair of goals in the third, Ryan Walsh blasted a rocket of a slap shot from the right face-off circle and senior Dean Adams finished the scoring with a late goal.

“We’ve given up a lot of goals at the end so we wanted win the third period and win the game,” said Spinale. “We didn’t change anything -- we wanted to just keep the pressure up. That’s the key is using our speed and I thought we did a good job of that.”

St. John’s head coach Mike Mead was blunt in his assessment of his team’s performance and took most of the responsibility for how the game went.

He said, “We weren’t ready -- that’s my fault. I needed to get them ready for a playoff game --today was our first playoff game -- and I didn’t have them ready.”

This was the third win in a row for Xaverian, which has high hopes of being included in the Super 8 when the field is announced on Saturday. According to Beniers, wins like this give the team a lot of confidence as it looks towards the tournament.

“The last three games have been really big [to go] into whatever tournament…rolling,” he explained. “You know, we want to get a lot of goals and get everybody going.”

Recap: No. 12 St. John's (S) 3, Xavier (Conn.) 3

February, 18, 2014
Feb 18
MARLBOROUGH, Mass. -- Inexplicably, Patrick Storer has put together quite a season for himself.

The St. John's (Shrewsbury) forward has quietly emerged as a force to be reckoned with anytime he has the puck on his collective stick. On Monday night, with his team still very-much in the hunt for a Super 8 tournament berth but trailing Xavier by a goal, the junior came through with a much-needed score midway through the third period to help the Pioneers salvage a 3-3 tie at New England Sports Center.

The Falcons, based out of Middletown, Conn., were doing everything imaginable to tighten things up inside their defensive zone in an effort to prevent St. John's from getting any quality looks on net. Early in the final frame, Xavier was successful in its task of thwarting St. John's once they moved the puck across the red line.

But on one occasion, the Falcons failed in their mission and it would prove costly. Storer took a pass from Kevin Butler in the neutral zone and out-muscled Xavier defender John Ford in his pursuit towards the Falcons net.

Storer, standing 6-foot-1, 165-pounds, had enough juice to stay with the puck and push it past goaltender Ben Guidobono at 7:56 to deadlock this hard-hitting affair.

"I've been kind of feeling it this year," said Storer, who leads the team with 11 goals. "The puck has sort of found me off of breaks and I've been getting a lot of rebound goals and catching the puck in stride. I was happy to get that goal and bring things back to even. Our team really fought back well tonight."

Despite putting 12 shots on Guidobono in the period, the Pioneers could not break the tie as Guidobono, a junior, held his ground, finishing with 32 saves.

"Ben was fantastic for us tonight," said Xavier first-year coach Dan DeConti. "He's been our go-to guy and certainly came up big for us tonight."

St. John's currently stands at 10-4-7. The odds of them earning an invite to the Super 8 still remain strong. Certainly a victory over Xaverian (on Wednesday) will increase those chances even further.

Xavier (5-8-3) has now earned ties in its last three games.

Despite being below .500 for the season, the Falcons have already clinched a playoff spot in the newly-formed Southern Connecticut Conference/South-West Conference Ice Hockey League, according to DeConti. They still have four games remaining on its schedule. Back on Jan. 11, when these two teams first met in Connecticut, St. John's won handily 5-1.

Early in the contest, the Pioneers proved more the aggressor. Creating solid passing lanes and bumping the defense off-stride, St. John's jumped ahead 1-0 at 5:03 of the opening period on a hard slap shot from senior defenseman Bryan Nelson (9 goals).

Xavier began to pick up stride soon after the score. Doing a nice job at working the puck around the Pioneer zone, several times the Falcons managed to sneak behind the defense and snap shots on senior goaltender Mario Pizzeri (20 saves). But, as per usual, Pizzeri stood tall, keeping Xavier off the board.

But at 13:24 of the period, that would change. Falcon senior forward Andrew Meoli stole the puck inside the Pioneers zone and ripped a shot into the net to tie matters at 1-1. The momentum of that score seemed to propel the Falcons at the start of the middle frame. Within a span of just over two minutes, Xavier's offense tallied a twice on goals by sophomore Cam Pollock (4:00) and senior Sean Johnson (6:34) to go up 3-1. In dire need of something positive, St. John's got it when sophomore Chris Stalmok rocketed a shot just under the crossbar at 7:39, bringing the Pioneers back to within goal. Things stayed that way until Storer's marker midway through the final period that gave St. John's a hard-earned tie.

"We weren't ready to start this game," Pioneers coach Mike Mead said. "To come back and tie it and not lose showed me something. Xavier did a great job slipping past our forwards, getting behind us and setting up a lot of odd-man rushes. Our defense seemed to be a little to eager trying to pinch and we got burned a couple of times.

“That was a big goal by Patrick. He has been a big contributor to this team and only a few know that. They all know about Bryan and Mario but Patrick does well for us and stands out. When he uses his size and speed he becomes a valuable asset for us."

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

February, 15, 2014
Feb 15
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. 11 Cathedral 6, No. 7 St. John's (S) 1

January, 10, 2014
Jan 10
WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- These kids really are alright.

Before the start of the season, there were some who wondered aloud if Springfield Cathedral would be able to cut it with so many underclassmen on its roster. Carrying just one senior and dressing nine freshman and a pair of eighth-graders, there was concern as to whether or not the Panthers could handle the rigors of a extremely-difficult Division 1 schedule.

Just a couple games shy of the season's halfway point, Cathedral is answering those critics with ferocity. Following Thursday night's 6-1 trouncing of Catholic West Hockey Conference foe St. John's (Shrewsbury) at the Olympia Ice Center, the Panthers seemed poised for a third straight appearance in the Super 8 tournament.

After sluggish start against the Pioneers, Cathedral took control of things over the final 30 minutes. The Panthers scored a pair of second period goals and added three more in the third to put this one to rest. With the victory, No. 11 Cathedral improves to 7-1-1 and wins the conference title with a mark of 3-0-1.

No. 7 St. John's, which came into the tilt riding a four-game win streak, fell to 5-2-1 (1-1-1).

Junior forward Peter Crinella's pirouette goal, coming at 5:20 of the middle frame, proved to be the difference.

The Pioneers struggled mightily all night lone inside the offensive zone. The Panther forwards and defensemen tag-teamed to knock St. John's off-course when it had the puck on its collective sticks, constantly being tied up. The Pioneers could only muster just 13 shots on Cathedral senior goaltender John Liquori.

Meanwhile, the Panthers riddled goalie Mario Pizzeri for 31 shots, including 23 over the final two periods.

"Coming into this game we were treating it like a playoff game," Cathedral head coach Brian Foley said. "It's still early in the season but it was two ranked teams going at one another. This was a very important game for us and we treated it as such. Our kids have been working very hard. Tonight I think we played more of a complete game, especially in the second and third periods."

With the Panthers clinging to their one-goal lead, sophomore Johnny Leonard gave them a little breathing space at 13:38 of the middle frame after coming down the right half board before cutting in front and ripping a hard wrist shot by Pizzeri to make it 3-1 going into the second intermission. Just prior to Leonard's tally, St. John's senior Mike McGillicuddy broke in free on Liquori with a chance to tie the game but the solid netminder stoned him.

The way Pioneers were being bottled up by Cathedral after the first two periods, you had the feeling a two-goal advantage appeared safe. But for good measure, the Panthers never took their foot off the gas pedal. Just 21 seconds into the final period, Crinella bagged his second goal with a one-timer off a feed from D.J. Petruzzelli.

"We knew St. John's was a great team and they were older than us," said Crinella, who leads the team with 15 goals. "They play very physical. We've got a lot of young guys and day-by-day we continue to get better. We have great chemistry. We can always get better but I think we're doing pretty good right now. Everyone is contributing which is so important."

Seven minutes later, freshman Kyle Kazeroid scored his first career goal, taking a Tim Zmuda pass from behind the net and rifling a shot past Pizzeri to make it a 5-1 contest. Petruzzelli would close the book on this one at 9:42, putting back a shot that caromed off the crossbar.

Last month, when the two powers met in Worcester, Cathedral took a two-goal lead into the closing period only to watch the Pioneers storm back with a pair of goals to tie them 3-3. For the Panthers, that game felt more like a loss than a tie. This time around, they were determined not to let up no matter the score.

"We had a tough game tonight," St. John's head coach Mike Mead said. "When your basically outshot by a 2-to-1 ratio on the road against a very good team it's tough to win like that. Our kids never quit and battled to the end but unfortunately this wasn't our night. I thought Cathedral was better-prepared for this time than last time. They didn't under estimate us this time. They were more aggressive. We didn't match their aggressiveness and we didn't match their intensity. They were better-prepared than we were and I've got to do a better job preparing our kids for games like this."

Panther freshman Riley Prattson staked his team out to a 1-0 lead at 8:07 of the first period with a quick shot in front that eluded Pizzeri. But just over a minute later, Patrick Storer knotted things for the Pioneers. Catching Liquori down in a butterfly position, the junior was able to slip the puck past Liquori's out-stretched left leg.

"I thought defensively, as a team, we did a much-better job protecting our goalie tonight," Foley said. "Only allowing 13 shots, our forwards and defensemen really did a good job. When John was tested, he came up with some pretty big saves. You begin to sense now that our whole team is starting to mature, and tonight was kind of a barometer for us. There is some fulfillment that maybe we are getting better."

Recap: St. John's (S) 5, Archbishop Williams 2

January, 5, 2014
Jan 5
CANTON, Mass. -- Prior to the start of Saturday night's non-conference tilt versus Archbishop Williams, Mike Mead, the first-year coach of St. John's (Shrewsbury), voiced his concern regarding the fact that his Pioneers had not played in a week and were about to square up against a highly-formidable opponent on the road.

Obviously his team felt differently. St. John's converted three first-period turnovers into goals and added two more scores in the middle frame to come away with a 5-2 triumph over the Bishops at the SportsPlex.

"The kids played very well tonight," said Mead, his club improving to 4-1-1. "All four lines played well together, [goaltender] Mario Pizzeri and all of our defense played well also. We were aggressive. We had our legs underneath us and we jumped on the puck well. We hadn't played since last Saturday so we were fresh."

The Pioneers stuck to an up-tempo style for the first two periods before converting back to a slow-down, defensive-minded final 15 minutes in an effort to maintain their lead. St. John's dictated the action from the opening face off, displaying an aggressive, in-your-face style that seemed to catch Archbishop Williams a little off-guard.

With the forwards causing all kinds of chaos inside the Bishops' defensive zone, that would eventually lead to turnovers – something uncharacteristic from the Bishops. At 6:14 of the opening period, the first of many turnovers, led to the Pioneers' first score. Junior forward Pat Storer stole the puck and broke in on Archbishop Williams netminder Matt McCaughey, beating the junior with a shot over his left shoulder.

But a little more than a minute later, forward Eric Keefe tied matters, pushing in a rebound past Pizzeri (30 saves).

The pace remained fast and furious throughout the period. With St. John's playing a man down, once again Archbishop Williams got careless with the puck resulting in Pioneer junior Kevin Quinlivan taking it just outside the right circle and beating McCaughey to go up 2-1 at 7:46.

"St. John's came out and played hard," Bishops coach Derackk Curtis said. "They back-checked and there were times when we got the puck to their blue line and they'd have all five guys back. They worked hard, blocked a lot of shots and were physical. The first period we kind of shot ourselves in the foot by not executing."

Once again, Archbishop Williams was able to answer the St. John's score with one of its own after Pizzeri couldn't snag a rebound that ended up on the stick of Nick Menzel, who pushed it into the back of the net at 13:58 knotting this contest at 2-2. But any momentum gained was gone in an instant. With just 40 seconds remaining in the period, Danny Barlok, another junior, stole an errant pass deep in the Bishops zone and slipped a shot past a shell shocked McCaughey to send St. John's into the first break ahead 3-2.

The Pioneers refused to take their foot off the gas pedal during the second. At times, Archbishop Williams (3-2-1) was seen standing around and watching St. John's make crisp passes around them without putting much pressure on the forwards. That was clearly evident midway through the frame when Chris Stalmok, a sophomore forward, was allowed two attempts just in front of the crease without being pushed out. Stalmok's second try found its way underneath McCaughey's pads giving the Pioneers a two goal advantage.

"We felt we let (Archbishop Williams) hang around in the first period so we wanted to come out and make sure we were ready for the second period," Mead said. "The boys responded and played very well in that second period. One of the things we focus on the fore-check and focus on cycling the puck down low and it seemed to work tonight."

With Archbishop Williams still playing back on its heels, another St. John's rush up the ice proved costly. A shot by Storer was stopped by McCaughey (30 saves) but the puck rolled off to his right to forward Mike McGillicuddy, who promptly backhanded it top-shelf to extend the Pioneers margin to three goals at 1:58.

"This is a huge win against a team like that," said McGillicuddy, a senior. "They are a Super 8 contender every couple of years and it was good to have that kind of lead on them going into the third period. It's nice to have a gap like that. In the third period we were focused on playing defense and not let them come back. A lot of goals do come off mistakes and if we can keep getting turnovers like we did tonight hopefully it will lead to a few more goals for us."

For the remainder of the game, as McGillicuddy stated, St. John's game plan was to blanket the defensive zone and force Archbishop Williams to shoot from the outside for the most part. The Bishops did send 12 shots Pizzeri's way in the period, but the senior stopped all to preserve the victory.

"We never really got going," said Curtis, his club having now lost two straight. "Sometimes when you are in those types of games one or two mistakes can really cost you. Tonight we made more mistakes then they did."

Recap: No. 1 Austin Prep 4, No. 8 St. John's (S) 0

December, 24, 2013
WORCESTER, Mass. -- For No. 1 Austin Prep, everything begins and ends inside the defensive zone. The Cougars take homage knowing they have superior strength in goal along with six top-notch defenders that are all capable of shutting down an opponent at anytime.

Tonight, versus No. 8 St. John's (Shrewsbury), Austin Prep's defense rose mightily to that challenge after posting a 4-0 shutout at the Holy Cross Hart Center. The Cougars improve to 3-0-0, while the Pioneers even their record at 1-1-1.

"This is a tough place to come into in terms of a long bus trip (from Reading) and against a very good team," said Austin Prep head coach Louis Finocchiaro. "St. John's is big and physical and I thought we did a pretty good job keeping ourselves under control. We have six really good defenseman that I wouldn't worry about putting on the ice at anytime. I have confidence in all of them and our goalie Elijah Harris has been excellent.

“When you build a team, you want to build it from your goaltender to your defensemen and then to your forwards. Having six defensemen, it allows us to stay fresh. At the high school level it's tough to find six good defensemen and fortunately for us we have that."

The Cougars defense, made up of seniors Brendan Leach, Andrew Cross, juniors Kevin Kiley, Mike Disciullo, Matt Morgan and sophomore J.J. Layton, kept St. John's in check throughout. The Pioneers were limited to just 16 chances on net, with only a handful of quality attempts.

That, in turn, opened up a solid transitional attack by their talented forwards. With the game scoreless for much of the opening period, sophomore Jake McKenelley changed that after ripping a hard wrist shot past Pioneer netminder Mario Pizzeri (31 saves) at 8:26. Just a minute and change later, while on the power play, junior forward Cam Russo took a cross-ice feed from Eric MacAdams and slipped a shot past Pizzeri to send the Cougars into the first intermission on top 2-0.

The Pioneers offense had their fair share of difficulty moving the puck up ice. Austin Prep took away the neutral zone and continuously tied up St. John's anytime it had the puck on its collective sticks.

The Cougars' offense continued to shine in the second period, putting up ample shots on net. However, they could not add to their margin due to the play of Pizzeri, who was doing everything possible to keep his club in this game. But at 12:50 of the frame, Cougar forward Ryan McDonough got behind the defense, and after taking a clean pass from Bobo Carpenter, the junior skated in alone on Pizzeri, beating the senior with a quick back hand to increase Austin Prep's advantage to three goals. Moments later, with the Pioneers again playing a man short, Russo notched his second marker of the evening, blasting a shot through traffic which sailed just under the crossbar to make it 4-0.

Both teams were whistled for seven infractions apiece. The difference being the Cougars were able to convert a couple of their man-advantage opportunities while the Pioneers could not.

"Our chemistry in our lines is really clicking right now," Russo said. "The power play contributed big-time tonight as well. We have great defense and they just move the puck up to our forwards and we get down in the offensive zone and do our dirty work and get as many chances as we can. We feel we are the team everyone wants to beat so we come into buildings and just continue to play hard like we did tonight."

Although there was no scoring during the final 15 minutes, Austin Prep knew a four-goal cushion at this juncture appeared safe. The defense, along with Harris, continued their mastery over the Pioneers, limiting them to only a few chances before finally closing the door on this one.

"Mario played great for us," St. John's head coach Mike Mead said. "They had two power play goals and one other goal went off his skate. Overall I thought he played very well. We matched up with (Austin Prep) at times. The difference was they capitalized on our mistakes and we didn't capitalize on theirs. We are learning together and need to stay together as group while moving forward."

Recap: No. 3 Cathedral 3, No. 8 St. John's (S) 3

December, 15, 2013
WORCESTER, Mass. -- St. John's (Shrewsbury) was able to weather the storm on two fronts this evening.

First, the Pioneers had to trudge their way through the winter conditions to make it to the Holy Cross Hart Center. Secondly, they managed to withstand offensive-laden Springfield Cathedral by rallying from a two-goal third period deficit to secure a 3-3 tie in a Catholic West Conference showdown.

For St. John's (0-0-1) the deadlock felt more like a victory. The same, however, could not be said for the Panthers (1-0-1) whose mental breakdowns over the final frame allowed the Pioneers to crawl back.

"You go into the third period with a two-goal lead you expect to hold on to it," said Cathedral coach Brian Foley. "St. John's played hard and played with a lot of energy. I know it was their first game and for them it was going to be an exciting night."

The Pioneers comeback began early in the third. Just 1:12 in, junior forward Garrett Lehane let go of a shot from the right circle which sailed past the catching glove of Panthers goaltender John Liquori (22 saves). Four minutes later, with Cathedral's Bryce Peritz in the penalty box for a tripping violation, senior Kevin Connelly snuck a shot past Liquori to knot this tilt. For the remainder of the period, the Panthers played back on their heels. A game misconduct penalty to Zac Prattson certainly didn't help matters, gaving the Pioneers a five-minute power play to work with. To Cathedral's credit, it succeeded on the penalty kill which, in turn, also negated its offensive punch in a quest for the go-ahead score.

For a team that finished 7-11-4 a year ago, St. John's, under the direction of first-year head coach Mike Mead, sustained a belief that things will be much different this season.

"The kids really played well and were able to bounce back," said Mead, who took over for longtime coach Brian Murphy. "It was certainly a good start to the season. We needed to be physical with them and I think our senior defensemen really stepped up and played well for us. It was a good comeback. The kids didn't quit so you take that and move forward. For us it's one shift and one period at a time. We want to build confidence with each period."

The Panthers held a 1-0 lead after the first 15 minutes thanks to Prattson's hard wrist shot past Pioneers netminder Mario Pizzeri (29 saves). Cathedral probably could have scored a couple more times in the frame, out-shooting St. John's 14-6, but Pizzeri, who was sidelined for part of last season due to a groin injury, stood tall.

St. John's physicality was notice immediately, as they were bumping any Panther with the puck on his stick. Midway through the middle period, Cathedral went up by a pair. On the strength of the power play, junior forward Peter Crinella poked in a Riley Prattson pass just in front of Pizzeri. But less than 30 seconds later, Pioneers' top defenseman Bryan Nelson blasted a shot that Liquori initially stopped but somehow the puck trickled through the senior pads across the goal line to make it 2-1.

"We wanted to come out and send a message that we want to be respected this year," said Nelson. "Last year was a letdown season. We knew we were a bigger team compared to them and we knew they were young. Our plan was to bang them around as much as we could tonight and I felt we did that."

With St. John's slowly seizing momentum, Crinella, temporarily, put a halt to it during the final minute of the period by tallying his second score of the night. The Holy Cross commit gained control of puck from behind the Pioneer goal and cycled out front before launching a hard wrist shot through traffic that Pizzeri never saw, giving the Panthers a 3-1 edge.

A team with a flurry of offense, it appeared as though Cathedral was in total control. But the ever-presence of the St. John's fore check forced the Panthers into losing their composure as well as the puck. Both of which allowed the Pioneers to earn the tie.

"Cathedral is a great team," Mead said. "They're a Super 8 team, so to come back and tie a Super 8 team in your own building in our first game and as a new coach is a good sign. I'm glad it's over.

“Now it gets easier from here, you hope."

Mead to head St. John's (S) hockey

September, 10, 2013
St. John's (Shrewsbury) announced it has hired former Pioneers hockey assistant Mike Mead as head coach, taking over for Brian Murphy who retired from coaching earlier this year.

Mead served as an assistant under Murphy with Pioneers for 16 seasons, from 1991-2007, but recently had stepped away from the position to spend more time devoted to coaching his kids. He's also a math instructor at the school in his 24th year and is a graduate of Assumption College.

A native of Arlington, Mass., Mead's younger brother, Jeff, is the girls' varsity hockey head coach at Arlington High.

“Brian [Murphy] was an execellent coach, and a good friend," Mead said. "He broke me in, taught me the ropes, how to deal with players and parents. He was great leader: calm collective, always thought things through. He was a coach you could look up to.”

While the Pioneers failed to qualify for the Division 1 tournament last season, Mead inherits a strong nucleus in the defensive zone, including senior goaltender Mario Pizzeri and ESPN Boston All-State defenseman Bryan Nelson.

"I'm going to rely on them a lot this year," Mead said. "They're strong players and great leaders, who've helped bring me up to speed with this group that we have coming back."