Last night, they nearly did. Soucy made the save of the night, sliding across his crease to stop Jimmy Currier, and at the other end Lloyd Hayes scored a shorthanded goal to put Central ahead, 1-0. At the time, the Eagles were outshooting Central 28-7.
“At that point you said ‘This isn’t going to be our night.’ or you say ‘We’re going to work even harder,’” said Hanson. “We have 15 seniors and they didn’t want this to be their last game — and they came right back.”
That mental resolve helped the Eagles tie it on the next shift, and the Prep outshot Central 14-2 in the third period. Heading into the final frame, it was anybody’s game. The way St. John’s completely controlled the flow of the final 15 minutes was emblematic of their toughness.
“We thought about it potentially being our last game,” Gianelli said of the mood between the second and third periods. “We knew we had to come our and play our game, play our systems and forecheck hard.”
Physically, the Eagles may have left a mark on Central Catholic last night; they finished their checks all night and in all three zones. They’ll need to summon the energy and will to do it again in order to exert the same influence on tomorrow’s game.
“They did that themselves,” Hanson said, asked if his staff emphasized finishing checks. “All we wanted to do, win or lose, was give our best effort and say we left it on the ice.”
The Raiders didn’t play their best last night, spending so much time hemmed in the defensive zone that the Prep was changing lines while on the attack. The team that beat the Eagles in their first two meetings and completely controlled last Sunday’s Game 1 will come with more energy tomorrow, and the Prep will have to be prepared.
“We know Central is excellent. We’re pretty aware of that,” said Hanson. “I still think they’re better than an eight seed, and we haven’t won a thing yet. All this did was allow us another day — we haven’t done anything yet.”