BRISTOL—A new and improved version of St. Joseph’s Prep showed up at Grundy Arena on Friday night. The Hawks built a 3-0 lead and went on to a 5-3 win over Holy Ghost Prep in front a boisterous audience.
Jack Yerger scored what proved to be the winning goal with 5:21 remaining in regulation to give the Hawks their first win in four Atlantic Prep Athletic Conference starts (3-3 overall).
The goal came just four seconds after the Firebirds’ Brady Baehser was sent to the box for tripping; Yerger scored off the ensuing faceoff.
“We’ve been sticking to the script, trying to do the same thing every game,” he said. “We were getting balance tonight. Some of the calls didn’t go our way but we persevered and we found a way to get it done.”
Yerger a senior, noted that the Hawks were moving the puck well and getting contributions from all three lines. “We’re always moving in the neutral zone,” he said, “and breaking out of the zone. We’re trying to get free and trying to get available for our defensemen. It was all working our way tonight. We were getting open, getting passes, and taking advantage of our opportunities too, which is the biggest part.”
The Hawks were outshot 36-26 but Rocco Bruno was in top form in goal. Yerger said that type of effort in goal energizes he and his teammates.
“It’s a great feeling,” he said, “and we almost feel that every time we play with both of our goalies. (Bruno and Andrew Custer). They’re both rocks for us.”
Quinn Egan and Christian Short scored goals 49 seconds apart to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead 6:03 into the first period. The goals came on similar plays that originated from the Hawks’ deep right-wing corner. Joseph Samango extended his team’s lead just 16 seconds into the second frame.
Carolos Rodriguez got the Firebirds (4-3, 3-1-0-2 in conference) at the 8:39 mark of the period. E.J. Pohl made it a one-goal game when he scored during a power play at 12:34. It was one of six power plays the Firebirds enjoyed over the course of the evening. Baehser drew the Firebirds even just 45 seconds into the final session.
After Yerger’s game winner, an empty-net goal with 51 seconds remaining assured the Hawks of their first conference win.
“We were chasing the game,” said Holy Ghost Prep coach Gump Whiteside. “I liked our response; we came back and were able to tie it up. We had every opportunity to win the game.”
St. Joseph’s Prep coach David Giacomin senses his team is rounding into form. “I told you If we had our three lines we were going to be a good team down the road,” he said. “And this is just one step, we’ve been playing pretty good hockey.”
St. Joseph’s Prep 2 1 2—5
Holy Ghost Prep 0 2 1—3
First-period goals: Quinn Egan (SJP) from Connor Burman and Michael Ahearn, 5:14; Christian Short (SJP) from Nicholas Storti
Second-period goals: Joseph Samango (SJP) from Liam Mooney and Short, :18; Carlos Rodriguez (HGP) from Luke Panepresso, 8:39; E,J. Pohl (HGP) from Panepreesso and Evan Mudrick, 12:34 (pp)
Third-period goals: Brady Baehser (HGP) from Mudrick, :45; Jack Yerger (SJP) from Charlie Maratee, 10:39 (sh); Samango (SJP) unassisted, 15:09 (en)
Shots: St. Joseph’s Prep 26. Holy Ghost Prep 36; Saves; Rocco Bruno (SJP) 33. Bobby Baesher (HGP) 31.