WILMINGTON — Following a scoreless first period Saturday afternoon against Arlington Catholic, St. John's Prep head coach Kristian Hanson decided to move Colin Prior back up to his old spot at right wing on the team's first line.
It was just what the Eagles needed.
Prior worked his magic with linemates Christian Cowles and Danny Haugh, scoring a goal and setting up another as the red-hot Eagles qualified for the state tournament with a 3-1 non-league victory over the Cougars.
Cowles, the team's leading scorer with 17 goals and 27 points, figured in all three scores with two goals and an assist. Thanks to its first line, St. John's Prep (9-5-3) struck three times in the middle period, when all the scoring occurred.
"We're on a roll now," said Cowles, whose team has won three straight and four of its last five contests.
"It was great to be back with Prior again. He has lived on my street (in Georgetown) since I was four years old, and we've been playing hockey together for a long, long time. Haugh is also a good friend. We all communicate well."
That line clicked to put St. John's on the board with a power play goal at 3:51 of the second period when Cowles beat AC goalie Stephen Needham (25 saves) with a wicked slap shot.
But the lead was short lived, as a Prep defenseman turned the puck over in front of his own net while on the penalty kill, and AC's Artem Zemelyev beat Eagles keeper Kyle Pettoruto (17 sves) with a nifty move.
"We didn't play our best game today," said Hanson, whose team finished tied for second place in the Catholic Conference with B.C. High this season with eight points (3-4-1). "We just beat B.C. High and Malden Catholic, and I think the mentality was we could just show up today and beat Arlington Catholic. But this game could have gone either way. They played hard all game.