St. Mary's upsets Spalding, 4-1

February 19, 1993|By Tom Worgo | Tom Worgo,Contributing Writer

When the buzzer sounded to end the hockey game between St. Mary's and Archbishop Spalding yesterday, the Saints' bench erupted, with players pouring onto the ice to embrace freshman goaltender Brian Venuti.

It appeared St. Mary's had won a league championship or a playoff game. But the cheering was for the Saints' first victory of the season -- a 4-1 upset over Spalding at Piney Orchard in Odenton.

"This was the Stanley Cup," joked St. Mary's coach Todd Erkman.

It may have been, however, the county's version of the Stanley Cup for the two Catholic League rivals in their first seasons with hockey as a varsity sport.

Venuti starred for St. Mary's (1-7-1), making 40 saves and keeping the Cavaliers (5-5) off the scoreboard for the final two periods.

"He has been improving and working real hard," Erkman said of Venuti. "He has played this well before and against teams that clearly outmatched us. We had games where he would face over 80 shots."

The Saints' leading scorer, right wing Dominic Souza, had two goals and two assists.

St. Mary's opened the scoring in the first period when captain Chris Venuti received a pass from Souza just past mid-ice, beat a Spalding defenseman and shot the puck past goalie Keith Prandy.

Spalding recorded 16 shots, including seven in the game's opening six minutes, in the first period, but was stopped repeatedly by Venuti.

The Cavaliers finally broke through midway through the period, as left wing Tom Weeks put a rebound past Venuti after Spalding defenseman Matt Fiehrer skated around a St. Mary's ** player and failed to score on a breakaway.

In the second period, St. Mary's increased its lead to 2-1 on a power-play goal by Souza. Jonathan Bixby assisted.

"We went into this game thinking it was the season," Venuti said. "It sure does lift our spirits."

Spalding didn't capitalize on a power play early in the third period, failing to score on three direct shots in its two-minute advantage.

"We had the opportunities," said Spalding coach Don Mellin, whose team concluded its season yesterday. "The difference was their goalie and their shooters."

The Saints went ahead 3-1 at the 7:32 mark when Souza notched his second goal on a wrap-around shot from the behind the net. Steve Picarde got the assist.

St. Mary's scored its final goal on a power play as Souza passed to defenseman Jake Thompson at the point from the right faceoff circle, and the junior fired a wrist shot past Prandy.

"We had a very successful season," Mellin said. "We should improve on that [5-5] next season. We are losing only three seniors and we have got some good freshmen coming in."

St. Mary's concludes its season Tuesday against Centennial at Columbia Ice Rink.

"In the last couple of games, our work ethic has come around," Erkman said. "They have hung in there and have not gotten discouraged. They deserve this win for all the work they put in this season."

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