Maher's birthday celebration vaults St. Joe to championship

March 02, 1994|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Special to The Sun

LANDOVER -- The Mount St. Joseph hockey team will not soon forget Mike Maher's 18th birthday.

Maher celebrated his birthday by scoring with 15.5 seconds left to give Mount St. Joseph (12-0) a come-from-behind 5-4 victory over Landon in the Maryland Scholastic Hockey League championship game yesterday at the USAir Arena.

This is the school's first hockey championship since 1951 -- although St. Joe went through a long stretch where it did not play.

An icing call against Landon of Bethesda (13-1-1) set up the winning play. Zach Adams (one goal, two assists) drew the puck back to Maher, who one-timed a 25-foot slap shot past goalie Sean Winter. Chris Montante helped by skating past Winter, partially screening him.

"Zach set me up, he told me to go to the top of the circle," said Maher. "I had the whole goal to shoot at."

Maher's shot capped a three-goal third period and completed the Gaels' comeback from a 3-1 second-period deficit. This was the first time all season that St. Joe -- which outscored opponents 156-11 -- trailed.

St. Joe coach Erv Terwilliger credited his team's penalty killing for sparking the comeback. The Gaels were hit with four penalties in the second period. Landon had a two-man advantage for 15 seconds at one point, but the Gaels' penalty killing team of Adams, Montante, Maher, Joey Cremen (one goal, two assists) and Erv Terwilliger limited the Bears to only eight shots while on the power plays.

"I think getting through the short-handed situations [was] the key," said coach Terwilliger. "It just bought us time till we got everyone settled." Adams put the Gaels on top just 34 seconds into the game, but Landon scored the next three. Coddy Johnson scored twice and Jeff Schinnerer added another for the two-goal lead.

But the Gaels fought back, as Neil Buchlietner (one goal, one assist) put in a rebound with 7:56 left in the second period. Cremen scored 31 seconds into the third period to tie, but Steve Brodsky gave the Bears a 4-3 lead 36 seconds later.

St. Joe fought back again. Montante tied it with 7:49 left with an assist from Bryan Woodward.

St. Joe also got a strong effort from freshman goalie Greg Mason, who made 24 saves.

In the end, though, it was Maher's day.

"It's the best birthday present I've ever gotten," said Maher. "It's one I'm going to remember for a long time."

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