LAUREL -- When Maryland Scholastic Hockey League titans Mount St. Joseph and DeMatha met earlier this season, the Gaels squandered a 4-1 lead and had to settle for a 4-4 tie.
Last night in the MSHL Tier I title game at The Gardens Ice House, the Gaels took a 2-1 lead early in the third period and preserved it to capture their first MSHL title in three years.
Greg Snyder's power-play goal with 12: 46 left proved to be the game-winner, and the Gaels (15-2-1) protected that lead with cautious offense and suffocating defense.
Mount St. Joseph outshot the Stags 33-13 and limited DeMatha (25-10-5) to a few quality scoring chances. Mount St. Joseph goalie Ryan Stephens made 12 saves.
This matchup has become something of an annual affair in the MSHL; Mount St. Joseph has reached the championship game seven straight years, losing to DeMatha in 1998 and 1999. The championship is Mount St. Joseph's first since 1997 and fourth overall.
Mount St. Joseph was sharper than two-time champ DeMatha all night. The Gaels' passing was crisper, and they regularly beat the Stags to the puck in the corners.
Still, the game was tied at 1 entering the third period, as DeMatha goalie Lenny Barnard turned aside one Mount St. Joseph threat after another.
Enter Snyder, who made a nifty move out of the right corner, cut in front of the net and lifted a backhand over Barnard with 12: 46 remaining.
"Once we got that goal, we let up on our forechecking," Mount St. Joseph coach Erv Terwilliger said. "We emphasized not making mistakes."
The Gaels also emphasized shutting down DeMatha forward Gary Burgess (40 goals), shadowing him with forward Adam Levine.
The strategy worked perfectly, and as the final seconds ticked away, purple gloves flew in the air and the Gaels mobbed Stephens in front of his goal.
"This is a great feeling," said Mount St. Joseph captain Derek Williams after accepting the Capital Cup as the MSHL champion. "It was tough [losing] last year. This is an unbelievable feeling."
Mount St. Joseph jumped ahead midway through the first period when Josh Merson's slap shot beat Barnard. DeMatha answered in the final minute of the period, with a power-play goal by Burgess.
In the Tier II championship game, played first, Archbishop Curley (15-4) fell, 5-1, to undefeated Broad Run (14-0) of the league's Northern Virginia Conference. Broad Run led 2-0 after the first period and built a 4-0 lead before Alan Armacost scored the Friars' goal with 5: 09 left in the third period.
"I thought [Broad Run] was excellent from top to bottom," Curley coach Joe LaTona said. "They were probably a little deeper than we were."