BRISTOL—Holy Ghost Prep and The Hun School left everything they had on the ice Friday night. There was little to separate the two teams, save for Josh Ouelette’s goal 21 seconds into the third period that gave the Raiders a 2-1 win in the Atlantic Prep Athletic Conference’s regular-season finale at Grundy Arena.
The two teams will do it all over again Monday afternoon at 4:00 at Ice Land in the play-in game that will kick off the postseason. The Raiders (8-8, 3-4-1-0 in conference) tied St. Joseph’s Prep for third place in the regular-season standings but lost a tiebreaker for the third slot on goal differential and are seeded fourth for the APAC playoffs. The Firebirds (9-10, 1-5-1-1 in the APAC) are seeded fifth.
The winning goal came off a faceoff in the Raiders’ offensive right wing circle.
“I was surprised that I even scored right off the faceoff,” Ouelette said. “I just put it in.”
Ouelette embraced the atmosphere in the building in what was the Firebirds’ Senior Night. “The whole crowd was electric,” he said.
Prior to Hun School joining the APAC this season, Head Coach Ian McDonald regularly brought the Raiders to Grundy Arena for non-league games.
“We’ve been coming here for eight or nine years, playing Holy Ghost in this rink,” he said. “The game is always awesome, close, up and down the ice, scoring chances each way.”
Holy Ghost Prep, which was trying to end an eight-game losing streak, had much the better of a scoreless first period, but was unable to solve Stephen Chen in the Raider net; the junior made 14 saves in the opening 17 minutes.
Kieran Mulholland gave the Firebirds a 1-0 lead 2:53 into the second session when scored a shorthanded goal on a scramble in front of the Raider net.
Hun School drew even at 7:10 when Brendan Marino hit Ryan Croddick in full stride, allowing the latter to move in on Firebird goaltender Jason Soule. Soule made a quality save but Crodddick put in the rebound.
Four-and-a-half minutes later Croddick was excused for the evening after a disagreement with Holy Ghost Prep’s Brendan Schultz. Schultz drew a roughing minor but Croddick was accessed a five-minute major for head butting plus an automatic game misconduct, meaning he’ll be suspended for Monday’s playoff game.
That was the end of the fireworks until the winning goal.
Holy Ghost Prep captain Sean Marshall praised the efforts of his teammates, despite the loss. “Just from the way we’ve been playing the last couple months, we knew we had to have a great game here,” he said. “I thought we played great. I thought we won pretty much every 50-50 battle in the corners. “We had tons of chances, we just, I don’t know, ran into a hot goalie.”
Firebird coach Gump Whiteside thought his team deserved a better fate. “I thought the boys deserved better,” he said, “But that’s why you play three periods. I thought we played really well today.”
Hun School 0 1 1—2
Holy Ghost Prep 0 1 0—1
Second-period goals: Kieran Mulholland (HGP) unassisted, 2:53 (sh); Ryan Croddick (HS) from Brendan Marino, 7:10
Third-period goal: Josh Ouellette (HS) from Simon Gregoire, :21
Shots: Hun School 26, Holy Ghost Prep 33; Saves: Stephen Chen (HS) 32, Jason Soule (HGP) 24
The Founders Cup playoff schedule is as follows
Monday, February 14 Play In
(5) Holy Ghost Prep at (4) Hun School 4 p.m. at Ice Land
Wednesday, February 16
Monday’s winner vs (1) Malvern Prep 6:45 ay Ice Line
(3) St. Joseph’s Prep vs (2) La Salle 8:45 at Ice Line
Founders Cup final will be played February 23 or 24 and hosted by the highest-seeded finalist.