|It’s celebration time for Sam Kurker after his overtime goal lifted St. John’s Prep over Springfield Cathedral. (Winslow Townson for the Globe)|
St. John’s Prep works overtime for win
NORTH ANDOVER - Sam Kurker’s overtime goal capped another thriller on Day 1 of the Super 8 tournament Sunday at Lawler Arena as St. John’s Prep escaped with a 4-3 victory over Springfield Cathedral.
“Everybody knows how important that first game is in the tournament,’’ said Prep coach Kristian Hanson. “We wanted to come out today and get a win. In the end we were fortunate to get a bounce.’’
The last time these teams met, just two weeks ago, the Prep made a miraculous comeback, scoring four goals in the final five minutes to walk away with a 5-5 tie.
The Prep wanted to avoid being behind the eight ball in this one and Andrew Brandano ensured that they wouldn’t be playing from behind at all when he stuffed home a puck just 1:28 into the game.
The second period started with another quick St. John’s goal as Brian Pinho won a draw forward, picked up the puck, swept in on the left side before stuffing it past John Liquori for a 2-0 lead just 53 seconds in.
“We were just trying to get the puck deep and on net,’’ said Pinho. “I just skated hard to the middle and put one on. Our game plan was to crash the net and it went in for me.’’
Frank Crinella got the Panthers on the board midway through the second period after picking the puck from the stick of Kurker, then sweeping in from the left to backhand it past David Letarte on a shorthanded bid, making it a 2-1 game.
Crinella would pull Springfield Cathedral even when he followed up on a rebound off a shot from Peter Crinella, popping it past Letarte to make it 2-2 before the second intermission.
A power-play opportunity allowed the Prep to start the third period like the other two, by scoring first, this time on a missile by Pinho just past the blue line to make it 3-2 at the 3:28 mark.
“I thought Brian was our best player out there,’’ said Hanson. “He had two big goals and he played well defensively. He was our player of the game.’’
Two minutes later, Peter Crinella knocked in a rebound for the Panthers second shorthanded goal of the game, evening the score at 3. Just like two weeks ago, regulation was not enough time to determine a winner, so a 12-minute sudden-death overtime was tacked on to the proceedings.
As the extra frame wound down, a bouncing puck fell in front of Liquori, who was unable to snag it in the air and Kurker swooped in on the doorstep to deposit the rebound, giving the Eagles the victory.
“Who better than Kurker to be the guy standing there,’’ said Hanson. “I saw that far, top-side open and Sam did a great job of putting it up there.’’