By Phil Stacey
---- — BOSTON — It hit St. John’s Prep hockey captain Jimmy Currier when the team’s vintage 1947 jerseys were unveiled and distributed to he and his teammates.
Freshman goaltender Zach Laramie just told himself to stay even keeled as the National Anthem played and he stood behind the pipes. Winger Teddy McNamara couldn’t believe how big the Green Monster was and said he spent a lot of time looking up at the Jumbotron. Six-foot-4 senior defenseman Ean Mendeszoon said it hit him right before the opening faceoff, when he realized he’d be playing where fellow hulking blueliner Zdeno Chara and the Boston Bruins played against the Philadelphia Flyers, one day short of exactly four years ago.
And for St. John’s Prep hockey coach Kristian Hanson, the thought that he could be standing outside of a hockey rink in the middle of Fenway Park, with his 6-year-old son Owen next to him, getting his team ready to play an actual game there was “mind boggling.”
Those, and many, many more stories like them, will be the memories that will be forever remembered by the St. John’s Prep hockey family. The Eagles had a chance to play at America’s oldest ballpark yesterday after as part of the ‘Frozen Fenway’ series, and while they fell to their Catholic Conference rivals from Malden Catholic, 3-1, they took away something far greater.
“Just to always be able to say we played a hockey game here is amazing, something none of us will ever forget,” said Currier, who likened skating on the Fenway ice surface to skating on the pond behind his Middleton home. “It was a surreal feeling. And to play against a great team like MC that are our rivals, it just made the whole day that much better.”
McNamara, a junior right wing from Marblehead who scored the Prep goal, likened the experience to a child anticipating the coming of Christmas Day.
“Walking from the (visitors’ batting cage, which served as the Eagles’ makeshift locker room) up the ramp and through the (visitors) dugout was unbelievable. Then you walk up to the ice, you can hear all your friends yelling and screaming in the stands ... it was just amazing.”
It was no less so for Hanson and his coaching staff. That included John Zimini, a 30-year member of the Eagles’ hockey program who coaches the freshman team, came up to join the varsity for yesterday’s contest and was so excited to be part of it that he couldn’t sleep Monday night.
“I think this entire day was awesome,” Hanson said in a quiet moment under the Fenway stands about 20 minutes after the game had ended.
“Sure, we would have loved the two points (with a win), but this is something that we’ll all have with us forever. Seeing parts of Fenway we’d never get to see otherwise, walking through the tunnels out to the field, getting to take photos all around, being here with my son ... it was all part of a very, very special day for St. John’s Prep hockey.”
The Eagles wore classic cream colored uniforms with a large navy blue eagle on the front, harkening back to their 1947 threads. Malden Catholic went with a similar late 1940s retro look, donning predominantly blue uniforms with gold stripes.
There was still a game to be played, and the Eagles (3-2) wanted to try and slow down the pace against the unbeaten Lancers, the state’s undisputed No. 1 team. For one period they were able to do so, outshooting MC 6-4 over the first 15 minutes as both teams felt not only each other out, but also adjusted to their surroundings.
But Malden Catholic (5-0) dominated the second period, outshooting the Eagles 9-2 and were rewarded with a pair of goals. Junior Austin Goldstein snapped the scoreless tie at 10:58 of the middle stanza when, after whiffing on his first attempt out front, got his stick on the puck on his second try and knocked it between Laramie’s pads.
Then, with just 5.9 seconds remaining until the Zamboni came out, some pretty tic-tac-toe passing allowed MC to double its lead. Third line wing Brian Cameron slammed home a terrific pass in the crease from Boxford’s Jack Adams over Laramie’s glove hand for a 2-0 lead. Like Goldstein did before him, Cameron swung his stick like a baseball bat in celebration of his Fenway tally.
“We knew at that point we had to come out in the third period and get the next goal,” said Laramie (20 saves), whom the Prep coaches praised afterwards for his poise against an aggressive MC attack. “Having it be 2-1 as opposed to 3-0 in the third would’ve been huge.”
That’s where McNamara came in. Skating through the neutral zone, he cut towards the slot as Currier, stationed behind the net, feathered a pass out front that McNamara knocked past MC goalie Alex Reissis, making it 2-1 with 11:52 remaining.
The Lancers restored their two-goal lead just two-and-a-half minutes later, though, and that’s where it would stand.
“I think this game showed us a lot,” said Currier, “that we can play with the best teams in the state when we stick to our systems. We’ve got some things to clean up, certainly, but this was definitely encouraging.”
“I think a lot of people may have underestimated us coming in,” added Mendeszoon, “but we showed how we’re capable of playing. A lot of the young guys really played great for their first time against MC; Zach in goal, (sophomore) wing Kyle Lynch, (freshman wing) Kyle Hentosh, they really showed what they can do. We’ve got tons more confidence coming out of this.”
Hanson had perhaps the line of the day as he equated what his team had just gone through against the Lancers in a ballpark that knows a little something about rivalries.
“This was great playing MC at Fenway; what we have, it’s like a Red Sox/Yankees rivalry,” he said. “Obviously, though, we’re the Red Sox.”
Malden Catholic 3, St. John’s Prep 1
at Fenway Park, Boston
St. John’s Prep: 0 0 1 — 1
Malden Catholic: 0 2 1 — 3
First period: No scoring.
Second Period: MC, Austin Goldstein (John McLean, Nick Botticelli), 10:58; MC, Brian Cameron (Jack Adams, Patrick Wrenn), 14:54.
Third Period: SJP, Ted McNamara (Jimmy Currier, Dylan Lemieux), 3:08; MC, Jared Silva (Wrenn, Adams), 5:41.
Saves: SJP, Zach Larmaie 20; MC, Alex Reissis 12.
Records: SJP, 3-2; MC, 5-0.