BRISTOL— Holy Ghost Prep didn’t play its best hockey Wednesday night. But the Firebirds did enough to advance in the Flyers Cup tournament.
Byron Hartley delivered a hat trick and Evan Mudrick and Colin Costello scored twice as the Firebirds downed Father Judge 9-5 in a Class AAA quarterfinal game at Grundy Arena.
Fourth-seeded Holy Ghost Prep (9-13) will face top-seeded LaSalle in next Thursday’s semifinals. Fifth-seeded Father Judge closes its campaign at 16-9.
The Firebirds built a 3-1 first-period lead on goals from Mudrick, Costello, and Eric Pohl. But Thomas Scannell and Kevin Rue scored goals for 90 seconds apart to tie the game 3-3 and, with 4:14 gone in the second period, it seemed as if the two teams were starting over from scratch.
The Firebirds regained the lead on Hartley’s first goal of the game at the 4:36 mark. They stayed in front the rest of the way but what may have been the key point in the occurred just over a minute later when the Crusaders’ Keith Wiercinski made a move on goal and collided with Firebird netminder Sean Joyce, knocking him to the ice, and sparking a scrum near the Firebirds’ net.
Wiercinski was accessed a minor penalty for charging plus an automatic 10-minute misconduct. Judge’s Cade McKee and Holy Ghost Prep’s Sean Marshall drew coincidental roughing minors while the Crusaders’ Owen Newhose, who had assisted on a goal earlier in the period, was hit with a game misconduct.
The net result of all this on the ice was the Firebirds had a two-minute power player and the Crusaders were without one of their top offensive for the balance of the game.
Holy Ghost Prep coach Gump Whiteside saw the incident as a turning point in the game. “That was huge,” he said. “That could have gone either way. Our kids kept their composure and kept things in perspective. We were able to kind of calm the waters a bit and get settled back into the game.”
Hartley spoke of the importance of he and his teammates keeping their emotions in check.
“Sean played a big part in it,” he said. “You never want to see your starting goalie hurt. He told us “…Put a puck in the net and that’s how we’ll get them back.”
Costello extended his team’s lead to two goals when he scored from just inside the blue line just before the sounded to end the second period.
The two teams combined for six goals in the third period. Matt Ryan’s power-play goal with 3:47 remaining in regulation got Judge to within two at 7-5 before Hartley completed his hat trick by scoring into an empty net with 1:40 remaining. Cole Stevens finished the scoring 18 seconds later.
Father Judge 1 2 2—5
Holy Ghost Prep 3 2 4—9
First-period goals: Evan Mudrick (HGP) from Alex D’Angelo, 8:07; Colin Costello (HGP) from Byron Hartley and Luke Panepresso, 9:52; Sean Melso (FJ) from Michael Levush, 14:42 (pp); Eric Pohl (HGP) from D’Angelo and Jake Marek, 14:53.
Second-period goals: Thomas Scannell (FJ) from Matt Ryan and Owen Newhose, 2:44 (pp); Kevin Rue (FJ) from Robert Werner, 4:14; Hartley (HGP) from Panepresso, 4:36; Costello (HGP) unassisted, 15:59.
Third-period goals: Hartley (HGP) from Costello, 1:31; Remy Garant (FJ) from Collin Furey and Melso, 4:14; Mudrock (HGP) from Pohl, 5:21; Ryan (FJ) from Melso, 12:123 (pp); Hartley (HGP) from D’Angelo, 14:20 (en); Cole Stevens (HGP) from Panepress and Carlos Rodriguez, 14:38.
Shots: Father Judge 32, Holy Ghost Prep 40; Saves: Colin McKee (FJ 31. Sean Joyce (HGP) 27