NORTH ANDOVER -- BC High didn’t make it through group play unscathed, but the Eagles soared when it mattered most.
BC High’s 3-2 win over St. John’s Prep at Lawler Arena Wednesday gave the Eagles (13-6-5) their first trip to TD Garden and the Super 8 championship game since 2007.
“These kids are spoiled,’’ joked BC High coach John Flaherty. “They played at Fenway this year, now they get a chance to play at TD Garden . . . and they earned it. We knew what the prize was, we knew the opportunity to play there, we had to get by this team, and our guys earned it. They worked hard and now they get to reap the rewards.’’
Catholic Conference rival St. John’s Prep (16-6-2) didn’t look like the team that entered the crossover round undefeated in tournament play. Muddled play in St. John’s own zone led to turnovers and opportunities for BC High.
“We had a difficult time handling the puck tonight,’’ St. John’s coach Kristian Hanson said. “Mishandled it quite a bit . . . we just weren’t as crisp and smooth as we have been throughout the entire tournament.’’
Evan LeClerc pulled St. John’s even at 9:04 of the third period, only to have Chris LaLiberte put BC High back on top and provide the final margin 29 seconds later by getting his stick on a loose puck after a chaotic scrum in front of St. John’s netminder David Letarte (13 saves).
“You have to strike right back,’’ Flaherty said. “And when we did that I felt good about how the game was going.’’
Tom Besinger gave BC High the early lead with a wraparound at 7:26 of the opening period. Besinger came out of a scrum in the corner, carried the puck behind the net and popped it in to the right of Letarte.
The St. John’s power-play unit went to work for the first time with just under five minutes remaining in the first. With Ryan McDonough in the box for tripping, defenseman Nick Pandelena went top shelf on BC High goalie Peter Cronin (18 saves) from the right circle after a brilliant set up from Sam Kurker and Brian Pinho.
BC High took its second lead late in the second period. Letarte caught a Steve DeForge shot from the slot with his stick, sending it wide to the end boards. Tim Larocque came up with it on Letarte’s left. His wrap-around bid was deflected but ricocheted up and over the sprawling Letarte with less than two minutes remaining in the period.
The Eagles will play Malden Catholic for the title Sunday.
“We’re not afraid to play them,’’ senior captain Matt Sullivan said. “We’ve had some good games with them this year and we’re looking forward to it.’’