LYNN — A strong second period was the difference Saturday night as the St. Mary’s boys hockey team earned a 3-1 victory over Winchester at William P. Connery Rink.
With the win, St. Mary’s improved to 2-0 and is playing solid hockey in the early going of the season.
“A quick start is always good,” Spartans assistant coach Jason Bullock said of St. Mary’s 2-0 start to the season. “The type of competition we play, to get two quick wins we are headed in the right direction right now. Going forward we are just taking it one game at a time and try to improve. It doesn’t mean anything.”
Saturday’s win had extra incentive for St. Mary’s in that Winchester bounced the Spartans in the first round of the Division 1 North state tournament last season.
“It was nice to beat Winchester,” Bullock added. “They ended our season last year. We know that last year was last year but I think the kids had a little extra motivation tonight from that.”
It was an all around team effort from the Spartans with Nick Napolitano, Christian Moran and Colin Reddy each scoring one goal, all coming in the second period. Joe Purtell (16 saves) was solid in net all night for the Spartans, keeping the Sachems offense at bay for the majority of the game.
“Joe was great tonight,” Bullock said. “I just feel bad that last one got by him, but it was kind of a screen. He made some big saves tonight and that is what you need from him as a team.”
In a game filled with penalties on both sides, Winchester saw the first man advantage midway through the first. The Spartans held strong however, killing off the penalty and even creating some shorthanded opportunities for themselves.
“We work hard on the penalty kill unit in practice,” Bullock said. “We work on blocking shots and keeping everything to the outside. You need those units to be work hard to be successful throughout the season. You have to work through penalties and kill them off and two minute penalties in high school now is huge. That has made a difference, but we have a couple different sets we can roll out there and they did the job well tonight.”
Two Winchester penalties at the end of the first gave the Spartans a two-man advantage heading into the second period. However, St. Mary’s couldn’t take advantage of the power play, keeping the game scoreless midway through the second.
“The five-on-three was disappointing,” Bullock said. “It was a little sloppy. I think they took their foot off the gas a little bit and you can never do that you have to attack. Just a little slow and a lack of urgency, it’s something for us to work on going forward.”
The Spartans got a break when the Sachems were caught with too many men on the ice after their second penalty expired. This time the St. Mary’s power play capitalized. Kyle Ouellette ripped a shot from the point that was saved, but Napolitano finished on the rebound to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead with 11:49 remaining in the second.
Just over two minutes later Damon Maribito dished a perfect pass to Moran out front to extend the St. Mary’s lead to 2-0. Reddy capped off the period with a nice wrist shot that beat the Winchester goalkeeper to the far side and put the Spartans ahead 3-0, giving St. Mary’s full command.
St. Mary’s failed to capitalize on two power play chances in the third and Winchester added its lone goal on a shot by Michael Martignetti that Purtell lost in traffic. But that was the junior goalie’s only mistake of the night as the Spartans held on for the win.
The Spartans are back at Connery Wednesday night (8) when they host Catholic Central League rival Bishop Fenwick. The Crusaders (1-1) earned their first win of the season Saturday night.
“Both teams are going to come in working hard,” Bullock said of Fenwick. “We are going to have to be on our toes and be ready at the top of our game for everything with them.”