Regular-season meetings between Central Catholic and St. John’s have evolved into barometers of where each program stands at a given point in any season. Saturday’s clash of the 2013 1A quarterfinalists was no different as the unbeaten Raiders (5-0-1) overcame SJP leads of 2-0 and 3-2 to pull out a 5-3 win at Ristuccia Arena.
Central pulled even on junior defenseman Sean Holly’s odd-angle goal from along the wall above the left circle to make it 3-3 with 9:57 left in regulation. Senior forward Alex Lester won it with 1:07 to play, seconds after a Central timeout, then added an empty-netter with two second left. Lester now has a team-high eight goals on the season.
“This game means everything. It’s always one of the opponents that you can measure yourself against moving forward,” said Central coach Mike Jankowski. “It sets a tone and is a good barometer.”
Hemmed in by Prep’s conservative,defense-first approach for the first half of the game, Central eventually shook free and amassed a 32-15 edge in shots, including 16-5 in the final period. St. John’s freshman goalie Zach Laramie finished with 27 saves, including outright robberies of Lloyd Hayes (glove) from the low slot and Corey Webber (right skate) at the post.
St. John’s grabbed a 2-0 lead on goals 27 seconds apart in the first period as defenseman Ean Mendeszoon struck on the power play at 10:31 and forward Mark Etherington deposited Jim Currier’s delivery past Central’s Colin Soucy (12 saves) at 10:48. Eric Robbins countered for Central on the power play with 1:15 left in the period, then Central’s Webber (at 2:29) and Prep’s Tyler Scearbo (at 5:57) matched second-period scores.
Prep, now 3-3-0, remains a work in progress. Coach Kris Hanson lamented the missed opportunity to bank a point.
“This is a difficult one to take. We had the opportunity to get a point and, because of some mental mistakes, lost that chance. We’re young, we’re inexperienced and we’re still learning. I think Zach would say he let in a bad goal but he also made some tremendous saves late in the third period to keep us in it and give us a chance,” Hanson said.
Central resumes MVC/DCL One play Monday against Waltham (The Icenter, 6 p.m.) while Prep faces Xaverian in Catholic Conference play Wednesday (Ristucccia, 8 p.m.).