“They’re as confident as any team in the state — and rightfully so,” Hanson said of Austin Prep. “What’s important is that we believe they can beat us; if not, we’ll be sadly mistaken at the end of the game.”
St. John’s, which played an extremely physical quarterfinal series with Central Catholic before winning in three games, hopes to do the same thing tonight at Tsongas’ larger ice surface while using their speed to attack the Cougars’ cage.
Defensemen such as Evan Leclerc, James Brightney, Ryan Byrne and captain Brent Murray all played very well the last two contests against Central Catholic, taking the body at every opportunity. And as it has all season, the scoring has been spread out for St. John’s in the playoffs, with a dozen skaters registering at least one point but no one player with more than three.
“We need to be disciplined, make good choices with the puck and at the end of the day, the team who makes the fewest mistakes will win,” said Finocchiaro. “I think it’s going to be like a great heavyweight fight; they’re a very good team, we’re a very good team.
“(Tonight), 45 minutes will determine which one of us moves on.”
THREE KEYS TO A ST. JOHN'S PREP WIN 1. Pressure the puck all over. The Eagles can be a tenacious forechecking team and subsequently force opponents into turnovers, leading directly to golden scoring opportunities. 2. Stay physical. Central Catholic got in their faces early and often during their three-game quarterfinal battle, but the Eagles gave as good as they got -- and then some. Wearing down the speedy but smaller Cougars tonight could be huge. 3. Bring pucks to the net. Instead of settling for wrist shots from the top of the circle or waiting for the perfect set up out front, St. John's needs to attack AP goalie Elijah Harris whenever possible, jamming his crease with bodies and creating havoc out front. It's a formula that could lead to some timely goals.