WILMINGTON – Add another milestone to the Catholic Memorial hockey legacy as Hall of Fame coach Bill Hanson collected his 600th career win Saturday in the No. 5 Knights’ 2-1 Catholic Conference win against No. 13 St. John’s Prep at Ristuccia Arena.
“It’s good, it’s nice. I knew it was close but I wasn’t tracking it. But, it couldn’t have happened with a nicer group of kids,” Hanson said after CM ran its record to 6-1-0 by winning its first league game of the season. St. John’s slipped to 3-4-1 (0-3-1). Though fiercely contested, this was a rare penalty-free contest.
Sophomore Paul Hardiman netted the game-winner 59 seconds into the third period. Senior Mike Stathopolous fought through a check, carried deep along the right wall and found Hardiman with position on a St. John’s defender in the low slot. Hardiman went high from a tight angle, popping the water bottle behind St. John’s senior goalie Brian Conry (22 saves), who was making his first varsity start.
St. John’s controlled the first period and exited with a 1-0 lead on Mark Etherington’s goal at 14:10 on which CM’s sophomore goalie Brandon Collett (25 saves) had no chance.
CM tilted the ice in its favor in the second period and pulled even at 6:53 when sophomore defenseman Tim Weinstein blocked down a shot in his own end, initiating a 3-on-2 break. Weinstein swung wide to the left, then sent a backhand pass to sophomore Billy Czar for a chip-in at the right post.
“St. John’s played extremely well and jumped us in the first period. They won a lot of battles but we settled down. Our goalie (Collett) kept us in the game in the first period, then made some key saves at the end,” Hanson said.
Collett kicked aside Seth Murray’s close-range bid with 7:10 to play, then denied Zach Pearce’s doorstep rebound attempt with 3:10 left. St. John’s called timeout and pulled Conry in the final minute but did not get a shot on net.
While the CM roster is stacked with sophomores (nine) and juniors (seven), the Knights are well seasoned.
“Seven (sophomores) played as freshmen and six (juniors) played as sophomores. We’re still young. The key was whether they were going to make the transition,” Hanson said.
So far so good. CM squares off with Xaverian Wednesday night (Foxoboro, 5 p.m.) while St. John’s meets in-town public rival Danvers in The Onion Town Classic Monday (Ristuccia, 8 p.m.). It is an exclusionary game for the Div. 2 Falcons.