St. John’s hockey cruises past Westford Academy

Ryan Webb helped create St. John's first goal during Thursday's game. (Item Photo by Owen O'Rourke)

WOBURN — The No. 8 seed St. John’s Prep hockey team got the job done Thursday night with a convincing 7-0 win over No. 9 Westford Academy in a Division 1 North first round game at O’Brien Rink.

Eagles coach Kristian Hanson had high praise for his defense, including junior defenseman Will Perry.

“Will has been great,” Hanson said. “He has great size and great reach as a stay-at-home defenseman. He did a great job tonight playing one-on-one and not getting beat. All of our defense played very well tonight.

“We saw some first career goals from Cole Lopilato and Tyler Raposa,” Hanson added. “A couple guys got on the board and that was nice to see. The important thing is we got the win. I told the kids in the room that all this does is allow us to play Sunday.”

The Eagles got off to a quick start, scoring less than 20 seconds into the game. Ryan Webb made a nice play on the boards to keep the puck in the Westford Academy zone and Patrick Moran ripped a wrist shot that found the back of the net to give St. John’s a 1-0 lead.

“It was a nice shot,” Hanson said of Moran’s early goal. “Webb made a nice play on the wall got the puck to Pat and he picked a corner. That’s the type of start you want to have. We were got the chance to build off that and the boys did.”

Back-to-back Eagles penalties put the Grey Ghosts on the offensive midway through the first period. But the penalty kill came through and Jackson Irving turned away several shots to keep St. John’s Prep ahead 1-0 after one.

“We still went another 14:39 in the first without scoring another goal,” Hanson said. “We had a lot of work to do still. You want to get off to a good start. Sometimes though that early goal can be the kiss of death where you maybe get a little bit over confident and think it’s going to be easy.”

The Eagles got off to a fast start again in the second period. A Westford Academy penalty put St. John’s on the offensive and seconds after the power play ended Evan Moore cleaned up a rebound to extend the Eagles lead to 2-0.

Just two and a half minutes later, Lopilato made a nice play to get a puck out of the Eagles zone and broke up ice for a two-on-one chance. The freshman ripped a shot that found the back of the net to put St. John’s ahead 3-0.

Midway through the second, the Eagles got on the power play again and controlled the puck well before adding another goal. Moran lit the lamp for the Eagles, pushing their lead to 4-0.

Westford Academy had a brief five-on-three chance in the final minutes of the period but Irving made five late saves to keep the Grey Ghosts scoreless.

“We regrouped between periods,” Hanson said. “We came out in that second period and realized what the task at hand was. Our power play was effective and the boys moved the puck North. It was a very good period for us and that was the game.”

St. John’s kept its foot on the gas in the third. Jack Gilligan had a wrist shot slip through for a goal less than four minutes into the period to extend the lead to 5-0.

The Grey Ghosts had a breakaway chance with 10 minutes to go but Irving made a pad save. The Eagles then turned around in transition and a few seconds later Nick Townshend ripped a shot to push the lead to 6-0.

Westford Academy only managed three shots in the third period and Raposa added a late goal to help the Eagles cruise to the 7-0 win.

Now the Eagles focus shifts to Sunday (5) when they take on No. 1 seed St. Mary’s at Chelmsford Forum.

“It’s going to be a real tough game,” Hanson said. “They’re rested so it will be a real challenge on Sunday and we will look to compete.”

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