Sullivan’s strike propels Eagles in OT
NORTH ANDOVER - With uncertainty hanging in the air, Matt Sullivan’s overtime goal gave BC High a big boost as it skated off with a 3-2 victory over St. John’s of Shrewsbury in a Super 8 game at Lawler Arena Sunday.
The victory provided the Eagles with the hopes of moving to the crossover round on Wednesday. The hopes became reality when Malden Catholic followed with a 7-2 win over Hingham, securing BC High’s crossover berth.
“We could’ve quit, we could’ve have packed it away, but we didn’t,’’ said BC High coach John Flaherty. “I’m proud of the resilience. We dug our heels in, fought back, and I’m proud of them for that.’’
The Eagles jumped to a first-period lead when, 30 seconds into a power play, Sam Topham wound up from the point with a blast that Mario Pizzeri (37 saves) kicked out to his right. Sullivan was in the left circle and pushed forward, pounced on the rebound, and deposited it into the open left side to break the ice at the 6:45 mark.
The Pioneers got on the board in the second when Topham misfired as he tried to clear the puck out from behind his net. The puck drifted into the slot and Kevin Emmerling came in and popped it over Peter Cronin’s left shoulder to tie the game at 6:18.
After a strong push in front of the Eagles’ net, Emmerling worked the puck behind the net. He found Jay Duquette coming into the slot, where he wristed his shot glove side to beat Cronin (17 saves) high at 10:59 for a 2-1 lead, which held up heading into the third period.
A boarding call on the Pioneers gave the Eagles the man advantage with just 3:33 left in regulation and BC High worked its power play to perfection, cycling through the zone and firing point-blank shots on goal.
Tom Besinger launched a shot from the left side that Pizzeri saved, but the puck stopped at the base of his right pad and, after whacking at it three more times, Besinger finally tied the game.
Knowing they needed a two-goal win to even think about advancement, the Pioneers pulled Pizzeri in a tie game, but they could not muster enough of an attack in the final minute and the game went to overtime.
“I was telling them, ‘See if we can get it down [in their zone] and call a timeout,’ ’’ said St. John’s coach Brian Murphy. “It was kind of strange in a 2-2 game to pull the goalie, but that’s what we had to do.’’
Things got physical in the extra frame and both teams traded matching minors, leaving the penalty boxes congested with time ticking away.
Pioneers forward Chris Coveney started to take the puck out of his zone, but was halted by Sullivan, who ripped the puck from Coveney’s stick, turned in the slot, and fired a shot that beat Pizzeri glove side at 6:02.
“We made a quick change,’’ said Sullivan. “The defenseman got caught with the puck between his skates, I shot the puck low, and it went in.’’