STONEHAM — The venue may have changed, but the themes between Austin Prep and Reading from Game 1 to Game 2 did not.
Just like the first game at Tsongas Center, Austin Prep grabbed an early lead in the first period and never looked back, defeating Reading, 1-0, Wednesday at Stoneham Arena.
Reading fired 36 shots on Austin Prep’s Elijah Harris, but was unable to beat the sophomore. Austin Prep won the first-round series and will play the winner of the St. John’s Prep-Central Catholic series.
Both teams came out flying in the first period, with Reading leading the shots-on-goal battle, 14-6, in the first 15 minutes. The Rockets did not win the scoring battle, however, as Austin Prep sophomore forward Cam Russo scored the only goal with less than two minutes to play in the period.
The Rockets had scoring opportunities but Harris was “in the zone,” as he said after the game. The 5-feet-5-inch goaltender stood tall despite multiple attackers in his face.
“With my size, I can kind of look between their legs,” Harris said jokingly.
“They have 17 seniors, it was tough seeing them in the line,’’ but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” Harris said of Reading.
“I’m proud of our boys and hats off to Reading, they gave us two tremendous hockey games. Both games were like heavyweight fights,” Austin Prep coach Louis Finocchiaro said.
“Eli [Harris] played sensational,’’ Finocchiaro said. “People are saying he won the game for us. He held them off and made the big saves.”
One of Harris’s big saves came in the final minute of the contest with Reading on the power play.
“The shot was put on net, it got tipped up and I looked up and just saw it on the net. I guess it was just lucky,” Harris said.
Finocchiaro said “both games ended in the same situation with a six-on-four after we got a penalty late.” It was no problem for Harris though, who helped his team reach the Super 8 semifinals for the first time in his career.
“I wish we were playing this weekend, I don’t want the week layoff, but we’re here,’’ Finocchiaro said. “We’re in the semis.”