The post-season ride started with the pressure of being the top-seed in the MIAA Boys Division 1 state tournament. It ended with bedlam on the ice at TD Garden, a wild celebration following a 6-2 win over Catholic Conference rival Xaverian that clinched the D1 state title for St. John’s Prep.
Down 2-1 early in the second period, the Eagles (22-3-0) scored three goals to assume command, and then bottled up the Hawks the rest of the way, allowing then few scoring chances the rest of the way.
“What did we end up, 22-3” said a jubilant St. John’s Prep coach Kris Hanson following the game. “I’ve been here 15 years and never had a year like this. I couldn’t be more proud of the boys. They were phenomenal tonight.”
Leading the way for the Eagles was senior first-liner Tommy Sarni. The Providence lacrosse commit scored four goals, including the final two into an empty net, and assisted on the other two SJP goals.
“I am not suprised at all,” Hanson said. “He has got to be Top 5 I’ve had here all time. He is an athlete. He is a competitor. He has that ‘refuse to lose’ attitude and is a tremendous leader in the room as well.”
Hear what Tommy Sarni had to say following the game:
Sarni would get the night rolling just 3:13 into the first period. Taking a pass from defenseman Aidan Holland on the right wing side, Sarni moved in from the right circle and fired a wrister past Xaverian goalie Brendan Flanagan. Will Van Sicklin also assisted on the power play strike.
Xaverian (20-4-1) responded just 39 seconds later when Braden O’Hara finished off a nifty cross-ice feed from Jack Silva.
Later in the opening frame, the Hawks were awarded a five-minute power play after a major was called on St. John’s. The Eagles were able to kill it off.
“I think not scoring on that major stung for sure,” said Xaverian coach Dave Spinale. “Hats off to Prep. They were the better team tonight. They really had us off our game. They had our number tonight.”
Shortly after the Eagles killed off the major, the Hawks went ahead 2-1 at the 1:53 mark of the second period. Jake Curley got the goal, snapping the puck home from the left post off the back of SJ goalie Payton Palladino.
Eagles junior Cole Blaeser would tie it up at 8:31, crashing the net to flip home the rebound of an initial shot from brother Pierce Blaser from the left side.
Later, during a Prep power play, Ben McGilvray found Holland with a pass from behind the cage. Holland whistled home a wrister through some traffic in front and the Eagles forged ahead, 3-2. The referees huddled following the goal to discuss the possibility of goalie interference, but eventually ruled a good goal.
A key goal in the game came at 13:51 off the stick of Sarni, who took a pass from Cole Blaeser, deftly slid his stick out of the way of a Hawks defender to the left of Flanagan and fired a wrist shot home to make it a 4-2 game.
Scoring chances for Xaverian were few and far between in the third period, and Sarni put the exclamation points on the night with empty-net goals at 13:45 and 14:09.
“Even when we pulled the goalie, we still couldn’t get the puck in deep,” said Spinale. “It seemed like we were all thumbs tonight. That’s the way it goes, unfortunately.”
“I thought we set the tone early with physical play,” Hanson said. “And we continued it throughout the game. We knew Xaverian would be heavy and we prepared for that. BC High got us prepared for that style of play (in semifinal matchup). It is how you draw in up in the beginning. Ninety-nine percent of the time it doesn’t come to fruition, but it did tonight. It is pretty special.”