WILMINGTON — Don’t call it an upset. That wouldn’t be fair ... or accurate.
Technically, I suppose, when you beat a team that hadn’t lost to a Massachusetts opponent in more than 23 months, it would have to be considered an upset. Or when you knock off the consensus No. 1 team in the Commonwealth, the two-time defending Super 8 champs who make a habit of pouncing on opportunities.
But the St. John’s Prep hockey team didn’t look at their 3-2 triumph over Malden Catholic Saturday afternoon before a full barn at Ristuccia Arena as an upset.
Oh sure, they all skated off the bench joyfully and piled onto senior goaltender Billy Price when the final horn sounded, thrilled to have bumped the Lancers off their perch. But this was no fluke: the Eagles earned every bit of this victory by controlling the final two periods and dictating the game’s flow.
“It’s kind of a feeling that’s just unbelievable,” said Price, the 6-foot-2 Danvers native who stopped 18 shots Saturday and was chosen as his team’s player of the game. That meant he was given assistant coach Dave Hennessey’s old 1981-82 Prep hockey jacket, a royal blue satin number that the Eagles give to their top player after each victory.
The former Danvers Youth Hockey netminder won his fourth game in five starts this winter by doing what he does: moving deftly in his crease and stopping the shots he should stop, plus preventing any uncessary rebounds.
“I definitely felt confident. I think we all did,” said Price. “To go out and actually do it, though, that was great.”
Staying within himself and not getting caught up in the big game atmosphere against the state’s was reigning champs was a big key to Price’s success Saturday, said Prep head coach Kristian Hanson.