St. Johnís Prep coach Kristian Hanson didnít change schemes or strategy. He didnít need to.
Hansonís Eagles (5-1) became the first in-state boysí hockey team to take down mighty Malden Catholic in two years, snapping the top-ranked and defending championís 24 game unbeaten streak with a 3-2 win Saturday afternoon in Wilmington. The Lancers posted a 21-0-3 mark during that streak en route to back-to-back state championships. They hadnít lost to an in-state team since Jan. 15, 2011 (a 2-1 loss to Hingham) and hadnít lost since Dec. 17, 2011 (a 2-1 loss to Delbarton, N.J.).
"The winning streak was a great accomplishment," Malden Catholic coach John McLean said. "But it's over and it's time to start a new streak."
To pull off the upset, St. John's Prep abandoned a box defense or trap game that other teams had tried.
"Our plan really was to go toe-to-toe with them and may the best team win," Hanson said. "And on this particular day, that was us. We didnít switch up anything we normally do. We just played our game because I felt we could skate with them."
Mark Azarian netted a goal on a rebound in front of the net and a minute later Ean Mendeszoon recorded a power-play tally on a shot from the point that found its way through traffic to give the Eagles a 3-1 lead with seven minutes remaining in the third.
"But MC is a better third period team and they always find a way to come back, so we certainly werenít too comfortable at that point," Hanson said.
The Lancers (3-1-2) cut the deficit to 3-2 with a minute to play after a centering pass knocked off an Eaglesí stick and snuck past senior goalie Billy Price (23 saves). But Price and St. Johnís Prep hung on in the last minute to deliver the upset.
"We're having a tough time finding out identity," McLean said after watching the game tape. "That's on me. I think we'll be OK though. We have people who can score and good defenders and a good goalie."
Pat Wrenn netted the gameís first goal in the first period before Andrew Brandanoís top-shelf wrist shot in the second period knotted the game at 1-1.
"Anytime you play MC, you know youíre playing the best team in the state," Hanson said. "So anytime you beat MC, itís a pretty good day. It doesnít happen often."
Added McLean: "We lost a hockey game. It's not the end of the world."
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