NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – The game moved in fits and bursts, but BC High had enough bursts in them to hold off St. John's Prep, 4-3, in the opening round of the Pete Frates Winter Classic at Merrimack College.
BC High will play Springfield Cathedral tomorrow for the tournament title.
The story of the game was BC High staying just one step ahead of Prep. BC outshot Prep, 26-11, and never trailed. After a sluggish start to the game from both teams BC broke through nine minutes into the game when Pat Riley roofed one shorthanded over Zach Laramie.
“Pat Riley was all over the ice,” BC High coach John Flaherty said. “He set tempo and he was a guy who really responded when we were standing around.”
BC continued the pressure into the second period with Kayser Raei poking him his own rebound less than two minutes into the period. Four different Eagles scored for BC and 10 total players reached the score sheet.
“It was a good high school hockey game,” Flaherty said. “It was a Catholic Conference hockey game; they're all going to be tough. They outworked us in spurts, and we were fortunate enough to get one more goal than they did.”
Prep found its mojo later on as Kristian Hanson's squad mounted a spirited comeback. Billy Falter tipped in a shot from Seth Murray late in the second period. Teddy McNamara tied the game at two after the puck took an odd carom off the end glass and left him a layup at the top of the crease.
“I thought we had a good second half of the second period,” Hanson said. “I thought we played pretty well from that point on. We're a young team, an inexperienced team; this was our first big test of the year. We lost so we certainly didn't pass our test, but I thought the kids played well.”
BC stopped the Prep comeback in its tracks less than three minutes after McNamara tied it when Jack Nesbit snapped off a wrist shot that snuck under Laramie's arm. Ryan Shea extended the lead back to two when he buried a snapshot from the point on a power play two minutes later.
Prep's Anthony Quartieri scored an extra-attacker goal with 10 seconds left but it wasn't enough.
“As of right now we haven't played anyone that great except for Prep, and we have Springfield tomorrow which is going to be a huge game,” Shea said. “We haven't played heavy competition yet so it was questionable how we were going to come out. It surprised me that we came out that good.”
PLAYING FOR SOMETHING BIGGER: Pete Frates, the namesake of the tournament, was a standout athlete at St. John's Prep at the beginning of this century. Two years ago, Frates was diagnosed with ALS and became a vocal advocate in spreading awareness about the disease.
Now Hanson, and St. John's Prep, wanted to give back and the Christmas tournament was born which features four of the top teams in the state.
“Our kids are pretty familiar with Pete and the ALS battle he's fighting right now,” Hanson said. “The Ice Bucket Challenge brought a lot of attention to that fight and Pete. The kids were very aware of that coming in. that was our goal in the third: don't give up. Pete's not giving up. You try to look at the big picture, certainly the bigger picture than a high school hockey game. The kids knew what we were playing for.”
BC High and Prep have one of the deepest rivalries in Massachusetts hockey, but Flaherty said that when Hanson asked him if his squad was interested in participating it was a no-brainer.
“It's an amazing honor for us,” Flaherty said. “We've been fortunate enough that every game we play at their place has been in honor. The last couple of years it's been to honor the military alums, and they year when Christian called and said he wanted to do a special tournament we kind of kicked around the teams, and once he said these four teams I said we're in. Add to that that we get to honor Pete Frates, ALS research, and everything they've done this year it's simply amazing.”