By Matt Williams
---- — WOBURN — The Arlington High hockey team views senior goalie Michael Schiller as its closer.
Last night, he played like Dennis Eckersley in his prime.
Schiller stopped 28 shots in 22 minutes of action, including 20 in the third period, to help No. 2 seeded Arlington take out St. John’s Prep, 1-0, in the Division 1 North tournament at Woburn’s O’Brien Rink.
“It’s hard to believe one of those chances didn’t go in,” said St. John’s Prep head coach Kristian Hanson. “This was our best game all year; if we played like this all season we would’ve been in the Super 8. That’s one of the funny things about hockey; one guy can really steal the show, and (Schiller) did just that.”
The Spy Ponders (13-3-5) had just two shots on goal in the final period but one of them was a goal off the stick of Matt Shea, who dove to poke Seth Coiley’s pass into the cage with 13:43 to play.
The Eagles, who end the season 9-10-2, threw everything they had at Schiller over those final 13:43. The Prep had a power play chance with 5:29 to go that resulted in two golden scoring chances that Schiller stuffed.
The first was a blast by Ean Mendeszoon from out high, and the second was a sliding stop of captain Jimmy Currier, who had the net to shoot at on the far side and couldn’t pull the trigger fast enough to avoid Schiller coming all the way across the crease.
The impossible saves didn’t stop there. Sophomore Seth Murray had a mini-breakaway stopped earlier in the period. Senior centerman Mark Etherington had a chance in tight with under a minute to go as well.
Coach Hanson had to play his top line, Currier, Etherington and Nick Latham, every other shift in the third trailing by a goal. The trio played immense hockey, but between Schiller and Arlington’s defense’s willingness to block shots and sell out to stop scoring chances, there were no goals to be scored.
The Prep pulled freshman goalie Zach Laramie (11 saves) with 45 seconds left, and also had offensive zone draws with 34 and 23 seconds on the clock, respectively. They didn’t win any of those draws cleanly, however, and couldn’t set up a set play for the tying goal.
The Spy Ponders blocked Dylan Lemieux’s bomb with about 10 seconds to go and pushed it out of the zone to seal the win, which could be considered a mild upset despite Arlington’s higher seed. Th Eagles came in as one of the favorites in Division 1 North after going 9-2-1 in non-league action this winter.
The teams battled through a scoreless first with each goaltender coming up with a breakaway save. Arlington’s Ryan Cote got his pad on Ted McNamara’s backhand bid in the second minute of action. Laramie answered him midway through the frame when he extended his glove hand to deny Seth Coiley’s shorthanded breakaway chance.
Arlington alternates goaltenders, so Cote came off with 8:00 to go in the second after stopped 12 of 12. Schiller was perfect the rest of the way with 28 saves as the Prep had a 40-12 edge in shots on goal.