LOWELL — The St. John’s Prep hockey team gave up an early goal and never got the momentum on its side Monday night, falling to Catholic Conference rival BC High, 1-0, in the winners bracket quarterfinal of the Division 1A (Super 8) tournament at the Tsongas Center.
The Prep competed hard and threw a lot of shots on net, but BC High goalie Luke Garrity turned everything away.
“I thought we came out strong in the first couple minutes of the game, then they scored and controlled the middle part of that period,” said St. John’s Prep coach Kristian Hanson. “That was a good high school hockey game, I thought our overall effort was good, but we just couldn’t find the back of the net.”
Despite giving up the early goal, Prep goalie Cam Ludwig played well and had 23 saves in the loss.
“Cam played well tonight, even though the goal is probably one he would’ve like to have back,” Hanson said. “But he made big saves and kept us in the game the whole time.”
The game didn’t get off to the best start for St. John’s, as the Eagles gave up a goal just over three minutes into the first period. BC High’s Danny O’Connell took a pass from Owen Callow and sent a quick pass to a wide open Joe Dragon, who buried the shot to take a 1-0 lead.
The Prep struggled to get shots on net in the first period but there were a few scattered opportunities, none of which resulted in goals.
The second period was much of the same, although St. John’s started getting some more pressure on the net. The Prep squandered a powerplay opportunity early on, but played good enough defense to keep BC High off the scoreboard to go into the second intermission only down one goal.
But St. John’s simply couldn’t get enough momentum in its direction, missing passes and making turnovers that killed any rhythm that may have been building. The Prep defense was up to the task and kept BC High out of the net once again, but the offense couldn’t get past Garrity. After Prep pulled its goalie and BC High hit the post on an empty-net shot, St. John’s got once more run at the net. But the Prep couldn’t convert, and the game went to BC High.
“I’ve been saying all year that BC High is the best team in the state, in my opinion,” Hanson said. “They’re strong, they’re deep, they don’t have many weaknesses and they can do this to any team in the state. That’s probably why we couldn’t score any goals tonight.”
The loss doesn’t end the Prep’s season, but it does put it on the brink. St. John’s will have to beat a familiar foe in St. John’s of Shrewsbury to keep its season alive.
“I expect our guys to put this one behind them and come out and play their best game of the season,” Hanson said. “We lost earlier this year to BC High and then went on to win 11 in a row until tonight, so we hope to go on a similar run from here.”
The rivals will meet at Chelmsford Arena on Wednesday at a time to be determined.