BRISTOL—The prize was there for the taking and Holy Ghost Prep stepped up and took it Wednesday afternoon. The Firebirds jumped out to a 3-0 lead early in the second period and went on to a 5-2 win over St. Joseph’s Prep in an Atlantic Prep Athletic Conference game at Grundy Arena.
Byron Hartley delivered three goals for the Firebirds, who wrapped up the APAC regular-season title with the win. The senior, who also picked up an assist, leads all APAC players in scoring with 20 goals and 12 assists for 32 points in 16 games.
“We were ready to battle for first place today,” Hartley said, “and we really wanted to come out and make a statement that this was a bounce-back year.”
St. Joseph’s Prep’s Andrew Centrella (in red) battles for the puck with Holy Ghost Prep’s Michael Connelly (in white). Holy Ghost Prep prevailed 5-2 to clinch the APC regular season title. Photo by Liz Diretto.
Hartley helped get the Firebirds (12-4-1-0 overall, 5-3-1-0 in the APAC) get started when he set up Evan Mudrick for the game’s first goal. Mudrick launched a shot from the high slot that beat Hawk netminder Rocco Bruno at 10:36 of the first period. Carlos Rodriquez made it 2-0 on a breakaway at 12:19 before Hartley made it a 3-0 just 29 seconds into the second frame.
St. Joseph’s Prep coach David Giacomin lamented his team’s ability to take advantage of some early opportunities. “The first five minutes we were awesome,” he said. “We were all over them. We made two mistakes and they put the puck in the net. and we’re down 2-0 and we’re chasing the game.”
The Hawks (11-11 overall, 3-1-0-4 in conference) got on the board thanks to Dominic Fantozzi with 1:14 left in the period.
The Firebirds reasserted themselves however when Hartley scored a shorthanded goal at 7:44 of the third period. Mudrick was serving an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at the time, the only penalty whistled by referee Eric MIchaels. Jimmy Craig scored for the Hawks with 3:37 remaining before Hartley completed his hat trick by scoring into an empty net with 29 seconds left.
“I know we had a really strong (first) period,” said Holy Ghost Prep coach Gump Whiteside. “I know we struggled a bit in the second, a little bit of the third but we found a way to win.
“I wasn’t happy that we gave up that many shots. We haven’t given up that many shots in a long time.”
St. Joseph’s Prep’s Paulo Colavita (in red) charges the net as Holy Ghost Prep goaltender Sean Joyce makes the save. Number 88 in white is Holy Ghost Prep’s Brian Butler. Photo by Liz Diretto.
For more photos of this game, contact Liz Diretto HERE
Notes: It was the first APAC game of the season in which St. Joseph’s Prep failed to come away with at least one point. The Hawks will host La Salle to conclude the conference schedule on February 21, two days before the seedings for the Class AAA Flyers Cup tournament are announced. The APAC playoffs will take place on February 24 and 26.
St. Joseph’s Prep 0 1 1—2
Holy Ghost Prep 2 1 2—5
First-period goals: Evan Mudrick (HGP) from Byron Hartley, 10:36; Carlos Rodriguez (HGP) unassisted, 12:19.
Second-period goals: Hartley (HGP) from Anthony Spark and James Littley, :29; Dominic Fantozzi (SJP) from Connor Burman, 14:46.
Third-period goals: Hartley (HGP) from Dan Behr, 7:44 (sh); Jimmy Craig (HGP) from Burman and Andrew Centrella, 12:23; Hartley (HGP) unassisted, 15:31.
Shots: St. Joseph’s Prep 32, Holy Ghost Prep 25; Saves: Rocco Bruno (SJP) 20, Sean Joyce (HGP) 30.