St. Joe's gets to final with second period surge, will play Timon
The Marauders were outshooting the Red Raiders 14-2 after the opening period, but found themselves trailing 1-0. But something must have clicked between the first two periods because the team found the answer they were looking for pretty fast.
Backed by a 28-shot, five-goal second period, the Marauders found their groove and took care of business against the Red Raiders 7-3 in a Monsignor Martin Athletic Association semifinal match-up at Niagara University’s Dwyer Arena on Tuesday (Feb. 19) night.
“We just talked about what we needed to do…just to settle down,” Marauders head coach Rich Crozier said of the message between periods. “We were under the impression that we had a lot of good scoring chances, but their goalie was just making some great saves on us. We felt like once we got the first one in, we'd be OK.”
Eric Paradowski led St. Joseph’s in scoring with a goal and three assists. He said that getting things going after a shaky start was just about keeping their heads up.
“We came into the locker room and said 'we have to get it together.' We knew we had to up the pressure to find the back of the net,” he said while wearing the Marauder hard hat, an award given to the team’s hardest working player of the game. “We were all in positive spirits. We just knew it was going to come.”
Crozier said that Paradowski’s play is something they’ve been lucky to have all year long even if some haven't taken notice of it as much as they should.
“Eric's just one of those big strong kids. He can out-muscle kids,” said Crozier. "He's just a real hard worker. His linemates are fortunate to get the credit, but it's the little things behind the plays, or in the corner, that's often overlooked, and Eric is the guy making those plays...I thought he was outstanding. It's what we've seen all year from him. He's been a great leader for us, and he's certainly having a great senior year. “
St. Francis’ Tyler McTigue, one of the WNY Federation's top scorers this year, intercepted a pass and roofed a shot past goaltender Nick George just a minute into the contest. And although they mustered quite a few scoring chances, they couldn’t find the back of the net in the first which had Crozier admittedly flustered at the break.
“It's nerve-wracking as a coach (when you can’t score), but when we came in the locker room no one was down or hanging their heads," Crozier said. "We said, ‘Hey, it's playoff hockey.’ We thought it might be a little bit of a tighter game than the outcome actually was.”
The team then came out aggressive and determined in the second period, tying the game up 2:42 into the frame on a goal by Harlan LoVullo, and pouring it on from there with four more goals in the next 10 minutes – Paradowski, Dominic Perna, Michael Ianello, and James Bassett all scored in the second.
“We were just going,” said Perna, who added a second goal early in the third. “Once one comes then the others come easier. We opened the floodgates, and we just kept going and going. We were just feeling it.”
The two teams would trade goals in the third period which had Crozier thinking about what needs to be done before their contest against Bishop Timon – Saint Jude in the finals on Monday, Feb. 25 at First Niagara Center.
“We were a little sloppy defensively,” he said. “We will work on that; we’ll work on finishing; we’ll work on taking care of the puck in our own end."
[pohoto2]It’ll be Timon who's also in the final after the Tigers defeated Canisius 4-3 in the second MMA semi-final on Tuesday.
Joe Piegay scored on a two-on-one feed from Connor Fields with less than 4:30 left to give his team a 4-3 lead. Goaltender Robert Milewski made three saves in the final 25 seconds to seal the result for a Timon squad who is returning to the championship game for the first time in five years.
“I told the kids, ‘this was not going to be a shutout, this was going to be a one goal game,’” Timon head coach Eugene Overdorf said.