Prep will battle familiar foe in hopes of keeping season alive

DANVERS — The St. John’s Prep hockey season is now on the brink of ending after a 1-0 loss to BC High in the Division 1A “Super 8” quarterfinals on Monday night. Now, to keep themselves alive in the double-elimination tournament, the Eagles will have to beat another rival: St. John’s of Shrewsbury.

The Eagles and Pioneers are more than familiar with one another, as they play every regular season. In fact, the teams faced off just two weeks ago on the Prep’s Senior Night. The Eagles got the better of the matchup, winning 5-2.

“I think the fact that we just played two weeks ago evens things out a little bit, to be honest,” Eagles coach Kristian Hanson said. “Any elimination game is difficult, so we’re just going to try to go out there and play our best game.”

The two teams have taken different paths in this year’s Super 8, but nonetheless they’ve found their way back to each other. The Prep entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed after posting a 13-3-4 record in the regular season, including a stretch that saw it go 9-0-2 in its final 11 games. They drew No. 6 Burlington in the opening round, winning 5-3 to set up a meeting with BC High. After not being able to get any offense going, the Prep fell to BC High and dropped into the losers bracket.

The Pioneers just squeezed into the Super 8, beating St. Mary’s in a play-in game to earn the No. 8 seed. The lowest seed meant they had to go up against No. 1 Central Catholic in the first round, a game the Pioneers lost 5-0. But they bounced back in that first losers bracket game, beating No. 5 Andover 3-2 in overtime to set up Wednesday’s meeting with the Prep.

If the Eagles want to come out on top and keep their season going, it will take big games from a cast of characters that includes seniors Matty Tighe (five goals, six assists), Tim Usalis (four goals, 17 assists), Evan Beers (two goals, 15 assists), Ryan Farrow (four goals, 11 assists), David Sacco (11 goals, 12 assists) and Shamus Lombard (three goals, six assists) as well as a trio of talented young players in Brian Carrabes (18 goals, 11 assists), Joe Bevere (12 goals, two assists) and Pat Moran (two goals, 20 assists).

“We’ve really been able to spread the puck around and get a lot of scoring because we have so many guys who can contribute,” Hanson said. “It’s a good luxury to have.”

Most of the scoring from the Pioneers has come from seniors Nick Palermo and Will Horrigan as well as sophomore Dhillon Wilde, who’ve combined for 91 points this season.

Hanson knows that it’ll be a tough fight to keep the season going, but his guys are up to the task.

“Our guys know what needs to be done, they know that this is the season right here,” Hanson said. “Hopefully when we go out there our guys aren’t gripping the sticks too hard and they play the best game of the season, and I think they can do that.”

The Eagles and the Pioneers will drop the puck at 7:20 p.m. Wednesday at Chelmsford Forum.

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