The hockey team at St. Mary's is a little sick of playing second fiddle, so last night it made sure it was leading the orchestra.
The Saints (10-3, 5-2) overcame a 2-1 deficit with three third-period goals to defeat Mount St. Joseph (10-2, 5-1), 4-2, in a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference game at The Gardens Ice House in Laurel
The victory is the first for the Saints over the Gaels in four seasons, and avenges a 3-2 loss earlier this year. While Mount St. Joseph still leads the league at 5-1, the win greatly improves St. Mary's chances of making the Maryland Scholastic Hockey League playoffs. The Saints are now second in the MIAA with a 5-2 league record.
"We've waited for a long time for this," said St. Mary's goalkeeper Tim Gilbert, a senior. "This is a very important win for us, and now we need to keep our momentum going."
If Mount St. Joseph can defeat Spalding, currently in third, the Gaels and Saints would meet for the league title.
Mt. St. Joseph, the defending MSHL champions, used its size advantage to frustrate the Saints for the first two periods. St. Mary's seemed to grow tired of the rough stuff, twice retaliating and giving up two 5-3 advantages in the second period.
The Gaels cashed in on the second one, when Jim Morrison found Chris Judy with a crossing pass in front of the Saints' net. Judy beat Gilbert to his lower right to give the Gaels a 2-1 advantage 6:48 into the second period.
The Saints tied the game early in the third, when freshman Justin Reid picked off an errant clearing pass in the neutral zone. He skated in on a partial breakaway, and beat Mt. St. Joseph's Jerry Chernock just 3:57 into the third.
The Saints took the ensuing faceoff, and added to their margin just 1:07 later. After working the puck around the offensive end, Jeremiah Venuti's pass found an unmarked Nick Torre just to the right of the Gaels' net. His wrist shot beat Chernock high to give St. Mary's its first lead of the night, 3-2.
Jamie Fritsch closed out the scoring with an empty-net goal for St. Mary's.
"I think Reid's goal was the turning point," said Saints coach Tom Judge. "After that, the momentum swung in our favor. We're starting to play as a team now, and our hard work is starting to show results."
Mount St. Joseph coach Erv Terwilliger said the Gaels were beaten by a better team last night.
"They took it to us," said Terwilliger. "Their speed and aggressiveness showed tonight. We could have been down by four to five goals if it wasn't for [goalie] Jerry [Chernock]."