Mount St. Joseph tops St. Paul's, 7-3, for MIAA ice hockey title

Rodgers' 2 goals, 4 assists help Gaels end three-year championship drought

February 11, 2011|By Jeff Seidel, Special to The Baltimore Sun

Mount St. Joseph ruled the world of private school ice hockey before slipping in the past few years. But on Friday night, the Gaels climbed back to the top.

Kevin Rodgers had two goals and four assists and sparked a pair of three-goal bursts that helped Mount St. Joseph roll to a 7-3 victory over St. Paul's in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championship game before a packed house at the Piney Orchard Ice Arena.

Mount St. Joseph (11-7-2) had won nine consecutive MIAA titles before coming up empty the past three years. The Gaels took command with three goals in 4 minutes, 16 seconds starting late in the first period.

They broke it open with three more goals in a span of 2:07 beginning late in the second, and the two streaks combined for a six-goal run and a 6-1 St. Joe lead.

"The championship trophy and plaque are back at the Mount, where they belong," Gaels coach Rob Merson said.

Mount St. Joseph wasn't slowed by St. Paul's unorthodox strategy of using three defensemen instead of two. The Crusaders tried to trap the Gaels along the wall in their zone, but they often found gaps and manufactured several scoring chances.

St. Paul's coach Eric Smith said that since the teams already had met twice — with Mount St. Joseph winning both times — the Gaels probably knew what was coming. He switched back to two defensemen in the third period.

"They knew our system," Smith said. "They had an answer for it."

Michael Hart gave St. Paul's an early 1-0 lead, but Mount St. Joseph seemed to settle down after Rodgers tied the score with 2:54 left in the first period.

Rodgers then sprang Kevin MacQuilliam on a breakaway with a perfect long lead pass, and he scored with 1:08 left in the period. Avery Shepherd got a short-handed goal 1:22 into the second period — again off an assist from Rodgers — for a 3-1 edge.

Mike LeClair (two goals, one assist) started the second three-goal run on a wrap-around with 1:39 left in the period. MacQuilliam made it 5-1 with 48.2 seconds remaining, and LeClair added a power-play goal 28 seconds into the final period.

Jack Burton scored twice for St. Paul's before a power-play goal by Rodgers ended any comeback hopes. Russell LeClair finished with three assists for the Gaels, who played Queen's "We are the Champions" long and loud in their dressing room afterward.

"This was our goal from the beginning of the season," Rodgers said. "To win this championship means [everything] to us."

S 1 0 2—3

M 2 3 2—7

Goals: S—Burton 2, Hart; M—Rodgers 2, M. LeClair 2, MacQuilliam 2, Shepherd. Assists: S—Maddux 2, Baker; M—Rodgers 4, R. LeClair 3, M. LeClair, Contillo, Shepherd, Courtney. Saves: n/a

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