WORCESTER - Its record and goal differential (129-24) gaudy, the talented Reading hockey team blazed through its 18-game Middlesex League schedule with a mission.
Critics weren't buying it.
The critics multiplied after the Rockets' one blemish - a 3-1 nonleague loss Jan. 21 to BC High, their opponent in the first round of the Super 8 tournament yesterday at the DCU Center.
The Rockets silenced quite a few voices with a 2-1 win.
Reading (21-1), which went 0-3 in the Super 8 last year en route to a quick and disappointing elimination, also found a way to avenge the loss that haunted the Rockets as the season wore on.
"Personally, I don't think we got the respect we deserved," said Rocket forward Pat Kiley, who scored the winner. "Most people didn't think our league was strong. Now we proved that we can play with top-notch teams and can get our minds set for Catholic Memorial and Waltham."
Kiley snuck the puck through the legs of an Eagle defenseman and fired a wrist shot past BC High netminder Sam Marrotta with 11:45 to go in the third period.
"He can shoot," Reading coach Peter Doherty said. "We told our kids in the third period to just shoot it more -- they were trying to make perfect plays and they couldn't do it. They were overhandling the puck and you can't do that."
Despite being outshot in each period, the Rockets saved up enough energy and took care of the Eagles.
BC High's P.J. Martina broke a scoreless tie 3:50 into the second period, flicking home a one-timer from Brian Talbot in front of the net.
Reading tied it just more than a minute later when senior defenseman Garrett Collins fired a slap shot from the blue line toward the Eagle net. Reading's leading scorer Michael Lozzi (20-40 -60), was waiting at the corner of the net, and forced in the puck.
"I thought Reading deserved the game and wanted it more," BC High coach Joe McCabe said. "When you don't have that same drive, you get beat."
The Rockets failed to take advantage of a 36-second five-on-three advantage early in the second period, as BC High (11-5-5) didn't allow the Rockets to set up.
Jeff Wyer finished with 26 saves and was a force in net for the Rockets in the first period, ensuring the Eagles' dominant offensive presence didn't lead to any goals. BC High outshot Reading in the first, 10-6.
The Eagles attacked the Reading slot with abandon, including a perfectly executed one-time pass from senior forward Kevin Karalas to Merrimack-bound John Heffernan with 1:32 remaining in the first. Wyer stood tall, positioning himself for the block.
Reading freshman Devin Albert nearly backhanded home a rebound of a Kiley attempt with 6:17 left in the first.
"We played very good with them the first time," Doherty said. "I think we played better the first time than today honestly. But [today] was great."