March 3, 2014

Super 8: BC High beats rival Xaverian in series opener

By Joshua Kummins

BC High is now a win away from the Super 8 semifinals. (Photo by Joshua Kummins/New England Hockey Journal)

BOSTON -- There is an old adage that says familiarity breeds contempt.

That saying rung true in the nightcap of Sunday's Super 8 contests at TD Garden, as Catholic Conference rivals BC High and Xaverian opened their best-of-three series with an exciting game that came down to the final minutes.

Thanks to a pair of goals from junior Tim Larocque, it was the Eagles that avoided the upset with a 2-1 victory against the Hawks.

"I'm very happy," BC High coach John Flaherty said. "At this time of the year, everyone's a good team fighting for their life (and) the toughest game to get in most tournaments is the first one."

The Hawks needed two overtime periods in a play-in against Archbishop Williams to advance into the main field and made things very difficult for the tournament's top-seeded squad by scoring the opening goal of the game just 69 seconds into the first.

Captain Antonio Marini continued his torrid senior season by coasting in alone for the score, thanks to a great head pass from sophomore Jon Beniers. Marini went high on BC High sophomore Brendan Payzant and went all out on the celebration afterward. The goal was his 14th of the season as well as his team-best 51st point.

"It was huge, obviously," Marini said. "Anywhere you play, getting the first goal is huge. It was a swing in momentum, but we definitely thought we should have capitalized more (in the first period) and that's what we're going to do next game."

BC High clawed its way back even at the outset of the second stanza as Tim Larocque made a hard cut to the net and tucked his seventh goal of the season by a downed Hawk freshman goaltender Aidan Murphy.

Larocque kept his excellent play going, putting the Eagles ahead at 11:18. The Hawk defense broke down in front of Murphy, leaving the third-year alone in front to cash in on the easy loose change.

"He stepped up tonight," Flaherty said. "You talk about seniors and juniors at this part of the season and this phase of the tournament. You need guys to step up and Timmy did that tonight."

Larocque and senior teammate Sam Topham each took penalties in the final 4:30 of the contest, allowing the Hawks two chances at the power play but they were unable to capitalize and fell short of the victory in the opener of their fourth all-time Super 8 tournament.

"The penalty kill got too much work," Flaherty said. "We can't be giving (Xaverian's top players) those chances with three minutes left, never mind two. I'm proud of the way my guys played, but we have to eliminate that for the rest of the tournament."

Flaherty's Eagles, who won the Catholic Conference title for the first time since 2003, will look to advance to the semifinal round with a victory on Wednesday night at 6 p.m.

Despite falling to the top-ranked team, the Hawks were in it from start to finish because of the solid play of Murphy in his first tournament action at the Garden.

"He was so mature tonight," Xaverian coach Dave Spinale commented about the play of his confident freshman netminder who made 20 saves. "It was one of his better games all year. When you get your goaltender to play a game like that, you've got to give him more than one. He gives you a chance to win every night and he certainly did that tonight for us."

Twitter: @JoshuaKummins