St. John’s closes regular season with win over Danvers

St. John's Ryan Hart scored the game-tying goal in Sunday's win. (Item File Photo)

MIDDLETON — The St. John’s Prep boys hockey team climbed out of an early two-goal deficit and defeated Danvers 4-2 on the Eagles’ senior day at Essex Sports Complex.

Ryan Hart led the Eagles with two goals while Matt Taylor and Nick Townshend each score one.

“Their line performed well,” Eagles coach Kristian Hanson said. “It’s great leadership from them. They pushed the puck forward and had 110 percent effort every shift. They push the puck North and they produce. They stay out of the penalty box and are all unselfish. They set a good example for the rest of the team.”

Overall Hanson was disappointed with the effort from the Eagles after a tough stretch to close out the season.

“It was frustrating,” Hanson said. “It’s our third game in five days. We’re coming off a couple really emotional games with Catholic Memorial and Needham. I knew today an early game was going to be a challenge for us, but excuses are for the preseason. It’s too late in the year right now to not bring the compete level where it needs to be.”

For Danvers, Calvin Mansfield capitalized on two early chances in the first period but the Falcons struggled to produce from there with no shots on net in the third period. Robert Prentiss (18 saves) and Adam Bridgeo (15) split time in net, each allowing two goals.

“We were playing a good team,” Danvers coach Steve Baldassare said. “That’s why we do this to pick up our level of play. We had a couple chances there late but we couldn’t really sustain a forecheck in the offensive zone. But we’re playing a good team that’s quick and plays a Catholic Conference schedule. That’s why we schedule this game.

“Calvin had some great chances, hit a few posts,” Baldassare added. “That second goal, that’s a goal scorers’ goal right there. Both our goaltenders played great today. They both got a lot of work so we’re excited for next week.”

Mansfield got things started fast for Danvers. The junior forward found the back of the net 46 seconds in to give the Falcons an early 1-0 lead.

Both teams played solid defense the rest of the way in the first period until Mansfield played a puck that was chipped out of his own zone and skated to a breakaway. Mansfield made a nice move and placed a shot in the top right corner to give Danvers a 2-0 lead with just 19 seconds remaining in the first.

“Danvers had a game plan and they stuck to it,” Hanson said. “They were disciplined. They did a great job of clogging things up out front of the net. They made things really difficult for us. They allowed us to have zone time but didn’t allow us to get quality opportunities to put pucks in the net. I give complete credit to Danvers for their game plan, execution and coaching.”

St. John’s got on the board quickly in the second period. A trio of Eagles forwards crashed the net and Townshend finished the play to cut the Falcons’ lead to 2-1.

Less than two minutes later the Eagles added another goal. This time Evan Moore ripped a shot that Hart deflected through the legs of Prentiss to tie the game at 2-2.

The trend of early goals to start each period continued in the third. Taylor slid a pass to Hart on a two-on-one break and Hart made a nice move to beat Bridgeo and give the Eagles a 3-2 lead with 13:33 to go.

Taylor added a goal of his own with 4:55 remaining, finding the back of the net with a nice wrist shot to pad St. John’s lead to 4-2.

Cooper Adrien had a good scoring chance with a few minutes to go for the Falcons but his shot hit the post. With less than a minute to go a Danvers penalty prevented the Falcons from any chance at a comeback.

“We had our chances and that is the speed we are going to need to play with in the tournament,” Baldassare said. “We need to pick our speed up. I thought our effort was fine. The guys played tough and nobody backed down so at the end of the day I’m happy with that.”

The Eagles closed the regular season at 10-7-3. Danvers finished its regular season at 10-8-2. Both teams await the state tournament pairings, which will be announced Saturday.

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