Mount St. Joe beats Loyola, stands atop MIAA again, 5-4

2nd-period flurry sparked by Snyder proves difference

February 21, 2000|By Bo Smolka | Bo Smolka,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

After dropping two of its first three games this year, Mount St. Joe seemed to be losing its hold on Baltimore-area high school hockey. But yesterday at Ice World in Abingdon, the Gaels held their reign for at least one more year.

Russell Smith scored two goals and Jim Morrison had three assists, as the Gaels (12-2-1, 9-1 Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association) turned aside Loyola, 5-4, to win their second straight MIAA championship.

Tim Sullivan had a hat trick for Loyola (9-6, 8-2 MIAA), which earlier this season had handed Mount St. Joseph its first-ever regular-season loss in MIAA play.

Mount St. Joe has long dominated area hockey, and the Gaels put an official stamp on their dominance last year when they won the first official MIAA championship, sweeping Loyola in a best-of-three series.

With the championship reduced to one game this year, Mount St. Joseph prevailed by overcoming an early deficit and then holding off a pesky Loyola team. The Gaels built leads of 4-2 and 5-3, but each time the Dons answered to cut the deficit to one.

Loyola's final comeback bid was hurt by a holding penalty against winger Jeff Rodgers with 2: 47 left. Not only did that leave Loyola short-handed, but it also cost them the services of Rodgers, one of its top scorers, for two of the final three minutes.

"There's nothing to be ashamed of, losing 5-4 to this team," Loyola coach Mike Reardon said.

Loyola scored first, on a goal by Sullivan with 10: 46 left in the first period.

"I thought if we could get a two-goal lead, [Mount St. Joe] might panic," Reardon said. "They're not used to anybody being up two goals on them."

That never happened, though.

In a three-minute span of the second period, Greg Snyder figured in two goals that gave the Gaels the lead for good. On a two-on-one break, Snyder fed Adam Levine, who lifted a shot past Loyola goalie Mike Mullock (26 saves). Then with the Gaels on the power play, Snyder poked in a rebound after Mullock had made a sprawling save on Levine.

Both teams advance to the playoffs in Tier I, the highest level of the Maryland State Hockey League. Mount St. Joseph is the No. 3 seed and has a first-round bye in the 12-team tournament. Loyola, as the No. 6 seed, will play No. 11 Georgetown Prep today in Laurel.

In the MSHL Tier II division, Archbishop Curley and St. Paul's advanced to the playoffs and will play first-round games today.

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