Southeast D.C.’s Fort Dupont Ice Arena was home Wednesday to a critical MAPHL clash between the third place Gonzaga Eagles and the fourth place Georgetown Prep Little Hoyas. The Eagles were able to hold on for a 3-2 victory in the first matchup of the year between the arch rivals.
“We have never lost to prep in the history of Gonzaga hockey, so we weren’t about to start now,” said senior Captain Rainey Brown of his team's victory.
It was a hard-hitting game from the start as the Eagles defense made it a point of emphasis to be physical with Prep’s attack, led by star captain Justin Butler. After dominating possession in the opening minutes, Gonzaga got on the board first when sophomore Jack Slater scored off of senior Pierce Radecki’s first of three assists on the day.
Already with the early momentum on their side, Gonzaga senior defensemen Kyle Bruun sent the Gonzaga faithful on hand into a frenzy when he dropped Butler in a mid-ice collision. Minutes later, the Prep defense gave the Eagle offense a power play opportunity that quickly turned into a 2-0 advantage just nine minutes in when Radecki again found Slater open in the slot.
The second stanza began much like the first as the Gonzaga defense set the tone with more tough play. Brown delivered a big hit on Butler right in front of Prep’s bench. Prep’s captain, however, proved to be containable but not totally stoppable. An impressive drive to the net through three defenders followed by a glove-side top-shelf wrister brought the Little Hoyas back within one five minutes into the second period.
Prep’s defense, led by junior goalie P.J. McNamara, had answers for the Gonzaga offense during the middle portion of the contest. McNamara had two beautiful saves, one with the glove to deny Brown and another on a break-away attempt for senior Will Maher, that kept his team well within striking distance heading into the final period.
The game's intensity picked up during the third period as both goaltenders were called on to be the savior for their team. McNamara stood tall against long shifts by Gonzaga’s top line of Brown, Slater, and Radecki who combined for the majority of their team’s scoring chances.
Freshmen Nick Platais equaled his upper-classmen counterpart as he robbed Butler on multiple outside rips and Sophomore Kyle Chadwick on a couple dangerous rebound opportunities.
“We really relied on him in tight situations,” said Brown of his team's net minder. “It was 2-1 for a while where the next goal decides the game. As long as he kept doing his thing, we knew we would do our part on the other end and win.”
Brown, finally, was able to do his part on the other end when he lit the lamp after sneaking his way through the defense and sliding the puck into the bottom right corner with under four minutes to play. The Eagle defense was able to withstand Prep’s all out attack in the final minutes as Platais swallowed up anything that came near his crease.
Prep's Butler scored one final goal for the Hoyas, but it was too little too late for the blue-clad visitors as the Eagles won the ensuing faceoff to clinch the crucial conference victory.
Gonzaga will not be able to celebrate this one for long as they head to Rockville Ice Arena on Friday night at 6:30 for a matchup with the first-place and unbeaten Landon Bears. Georgetown Prep will host Bullis on Friday before they close out their regular season with an out-of-conference matchup with Langley on February 11th.
|7||Mount St. Joseph||7-6-2||2-4|
|10||St. Stephen's & St. Agnes||0-8-0||0-5|