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One big statement victory as St. John’s Prep hockey takes down top-ranked Xaverian

St. John's Prep goalie Payton Palladino defends against Xaverian's Gavin Moynihan, and a snow shower, to make a first-period save.DebeeTlumacki

Senior goalie Payton Palladino was concise when describing the statement his St. John’s Prep team made with a 5-2 upset of top-ranked and undefeated Xaverian on Saturday night at the Canton Ice House.

“We’re here to play,” he said.

The Eagles (5-1, 1-1) came into the highly-anticipated Catholic Conference showdown ranked No. 8 by the Globe, while Xaverian (6-1, 1-1) was ranked No. 1 by the Globe, Hockey Night in Boston and New England Hockey Journal.

“Definitely trying to make a statement,” said senior right wing Tommy Sarni, who netted the game-winning goal with five minutes to play. “But [we] don’t pay attention to those rankings at all. We go to the rink every day and work on what we can do.”


The Hawks, winners of eight straight overall, hadn’t lost in 11 months, since a Feb. 14, 2021, defeat to Catholic Memorial. They’d only allowed six goals in six games. Then St. John’s Prep went and scored three unanswered goals in the final five minutes to break open a tie game.

“We knew that conference points were on the line, we know they’re picked to win the conference, we know they’re the No. 1 team in the state,” SJP coach Kristian Hanson said. “These are all things we have in the back of our mind. But, ultimately, we wanted to keep it simple, not let the emotions get too high and play a full, consistent, hard game.”

Xaverian's Cole LeBlanc (right) works the puck up ice while being chased by St. John's Prep's Pierce Blaeser.DebeeTlumacki

The Eagles first put Xaverian on the ropes 28 seconds into the second period when junior Cole Blaeser broke a 1-1 tie with his first varsity goal, which he tipped over goalie Kevin Richardi’s shoulder off a pass from Sarni.

The Eagles controlled the puck for the next dozen minutes, but at the 13:21 mark, just seven seconds into a power play, Xaverian knotted things up on a goal by Braden O’Hara that seemed to awaken the Hawks, who proceeded to pepper Palladino with six quick shots to open the third period.


“Payton had some great saves in the third period and we got lucky on a few,” Hanson said. “I thought he was at his best in the third. He does a great job of keeping his composure.”

Palladino finished with 12 saves in the period and 29 for the game.

Payton Palladino got help from St. John's Prep teammate Jeff Melanson for one of his 29 saves.DebeeTlumacki

“I just stood my ground,” he said. “I knew eventually we would get the momentum back and get pucks on their net.”

That they did. With just over five minutes remaining, Blaeser came up with a loose puck in the neutral zone and raced down the ice with his older brother, Pierce, on a breakaway. Cole’s shot was stopped, but it rebounded in front of a trailing Sarni, who slammed it home.

“I screamed,” Palladino said. “I was pumped.”

Said Sarni: “I was at the end of a shift and gassed. I was calling for the drop pass; puck popped right out. The puck was on edge and I just tried to get it on net and thankfully it went in. My two linemates screened the goalie well so he didn’t have a chance of saving it.”

Just 78 second later, junior Aidan Holland sniped an insurance goal from the point, and with two minutes left junior Will Van Sicklin finished things off with an empty netter.

“It’s what you dream about,” Sarni said. “It feels great.”


Theo Vetere also scored for the Eagles, while Gavin Moynihan scored for Xaverian, which got 23 saves from Richardi.

Christian Rosa and St. John's Prep were in a tangle with Will Irving and Xaverian until breaking it open late.DebeeTlumacki

Algonquin 4, Leominster 3 — Senior Thomas Hauck scored with 37.8 seconds left in overtime to give Algonquin (4-2) a Central Mass. Roy Conference win over the Blue Devils at NorthStar Ice Sports in Westborough.

Arlington 6, Winchester 0 — Jack Sadowski and Brendan Hirsch both scored twice and Jake Davies made 20 saves for the third-ranked Spy Ponders (6-0) in the Middlesex League shutout at O’Brien Arena.

Bedford 2, Haverhill 0 — Freshman forwards James Nichol and Charles Demeo scored for the Buccaneers (2-2-0), who took the Dual County/Merrimack Valley 3 home win at Edge Sports Center.

Belmont 2, Reading 0 — Junior captain and forward Cam Fici scored both goals for the fourth-ranked Marauders (10-0-0). Senior captain Ryan Griffin made 22 saves to earn the Middlesex Liberty Division shutout over the 16th-ranked Rockets (3-1-1) at Burbank Arena.

Bishop Feehan 5, St. Mary’s 2 — Junior forward Thomas Franzosa’s two goals led the Shamrocks (2-5-0) to the upset win over the 15th-ranked Spartans (3-3-2) in the Catholic Central Large game at the New England Sports Village in Attleboro.

Bishop Fenwick 2, Archbishop Williams 1 — Behind goals from Mark Wilson and Manny Sagee, the Crusaders (2-4) took home the Catholic Central League win at McVann-O’Keefe Skating Rink in Peabody.

Brookline 3, Newton North 2 — Emmett Teahan netted his second goal of the game in overtime to propel the Warriors (5-2) to the come-from-behind Bay State Conference win at John A. Ryan Arena in Watertown. Steve MacDougall tallied three assists and Jacob Gurdin scored for Brookline.


Canton 2, Franklin 1 — Senior forward Tommy Phaneuf got the Bulldogs (3-2-1) on the board, and in the third period sophomore forward Brian Middleton deflected in a shot by junior defenseman James Young for the game-winner at Sgt. Pirelli Veteran’s Arena for the Hockomock victory.

Chelmsford 3, Westford 2 — Colin Ryan scored the overtime winner for the Lions (4-2) in the Dual County/Merrimack Valley 1 matchup at Skate 3 in Tyngsborough.

Concord-Carlisle 5, Acton-Boxborough 2 — Sophomore forward Jay Carter’s hat trick led the Patriots (4-3-0), and freshman goalie Jason Swaim earned the Dual County/Merrimack Valley 2 victory at Edge Sports Center in Bedford.

Dennis-Yarmouth 5, Blue Hills 4 — Junior Aidan Powers wristed in the winner from the slot with 2:27 left in overtime to lift the Dolphins (2-3) to the nonleague win at Tony Kent Arena.

Dover-Sherborn/Weston 4, Norton 2 — Thomas Sacco’s two goals were the difference for D-S/Weston (3-3) in the Tri-Valley Small win at Foxboro Sports Center.

Essex Tech 4, Lexington 2 — David Egan scored the go-ahead goal in the second period and added an assist for the Hawks (4-1-2) in the nonleague win at Essex Sports Center in Middleton. Logan Casey, Brady Leonard and Ryan Lariviere also scored for Essex Tech.

Hanover 6, Pembroke 2 — Robbie Hanna’s hat trick and assist propelled the Hawks (6-2) to the Patriot Fisher win at Hobomock Ice Arena in Pembroke. Mikey Munroe added a goal and assist for Hanover.


Hopedale 3, Sandwich 1 — Behind a goal and assist from Milford’s Brady Butler and Cam Collins, the Raiders took home the nonleague road win at Gallo Arena in Bourne and improved to 5-0. Milford’s Sean McGee had the other goal, while Chris Cardillo scored for the Blue Knights.

Lynnfield 5, Hamilton-Wenham 1 — Chase Carney netted his second hat trick of the season for the Pioneers (6-1), who were in control throughout in the Cape Ann win at Pingree’s Johnson Rink in South Hamilton.

Marblehead 4, Winthrop 3 — Hayden Leveroni’s second goal of the game was the winner in the third period for the Magicians (3-4), who took the Northeastern Conference win at Rockett Arena in Salem.

Marshfield 4, North Quincy 1 — Junior forward Jack Croft, sophomore forward Will Doherty, senior forward Nick Souretis, and junior defenseman Jake Hemingway (taking shifts at forward) provided the scoring for the 18th-ranked Rams (4-3-1) to take the Patriot League win at Hobomock Ice Arena.

Masconomet 4, Gloucester 3 — Sophomore AJ Sacco potted the game winner 9 seconds into overtime on a power play for Masco (6-1) to secure the Northeastern Conference win at Talbot Rink in Gloucester.

Medway 4, Bellingham 0 — Alex Infanger scored twice and Evan Monaghan made 12 saves for the shutout for the Mustangs (7-1) in the Tri-Valley Small matchup at Sgt. Pirelli Rink in Franklin.

Methuen 4, Dracut/Tyngsborough 2 — Junior forward Jack Allard scored the first two goals for the Rangers (5-1-2), followed by senior defenseman Danny Field and junior forward Owen Kneeland. Junior goalie Noah Page earned the Dual County/Merrimack Valley 3 win at Methuen High.

Needham 2, Milton 1 — Senior captain and forward Aidan O’Malley got the Rockets (2-6-0) on the board, and classmate forward Miles Ziskin fired home the third-period winner for his first varsity goal. Senior goalie Colin Treacy (29 saves) earned the win at Babson College.

Newton South 2, North Andover 0 — Dylan Zukowski posted the shutout for the Lions (2-3), who got goals from Ryan Quirk and Daniel Schwartzman for the Dual County/Merrimack Valley 2 road victory at Lawrence Valley Forum.

North Attleborough 2, King Philip 2 — Nik Kojoian netted the tying goal in the third period for the Rocketeers (2-5-1) against the Warriors (2-3-1) in the Hockomock League at Foxboro Sports Center.

Oliver Ames 4, Taunton 3 — Sophomore Andrew Livingstone’s two goals helped lift the host Tigers (2-3-1) to the Hockomock League win at Asiaf Arena.

Quincy 6, Plymouth South 0 — Freshman Lincoln Hennessey had a pair of goals and junior Tyler Holmes earned the shutout for the Presidents (4-2-1) in the Patriot Fisher game at Quincy Youth Arena.

Rockland 6, Hull/Cohasset 5 — The Bulldogs (4-4) overcame a 5-2 deficit to score four unanswered third-period goals and steal a South Shore League win at Connell Memorial Rink in Weymouth.

“Sometimes they put too much pressure on themselves, but when they have fun — as the third period showed — they are a good, solid team,” Rockland coach Stephen Murphy said.

Junior Shane Kimball scored the game-winner with 22 seconds left and also had an assist. Junior Logan Murphy led the Bulldogs with a goal and four assists).

Southeastern/B-P 7, Upper Cape 1 — John Whalen (2 goals, 2 assists) and Shane Willis (goal, 3 assists) were the offensive sparks for the Hawks (3-1) in the Mayflower win at Gallo Arena in Bourne. Nolan Sturdevant also had 3 assists in the win.

Stoneham 4, Wilmington 0 — Danny Storella scored twice to support Aiden Goulding’s second shutout in as many games as the Spartans (5-3) extended their win streak to five games with the Middlesex Freedom victory at Stoneham Arena.

Tewksbury 8, Lowell 0 — Senior defenseman and captain Caden Connors had a hat trick and two assists for the No. 11 Redmen (6-0), who cruised in the Dual County/Merrimack Valley 2 matchup at Breakaway Ice Center. Jason Cooke added two goals for Tewksbury.

Waltham 2, Shrewsbury 1 — Kevin Dann scored with 2:42 left in overtime, boosting the Hawks (4-1-1) to the Dual County/Merrimack Valley 1 home win at Veterans’ Memorial Rink.

Weymouth 5, Walpole 3 — Ryan Kane scored twice and Jack Brady scored his first varsity goal, lifting the Wildcats (3-5) to the Bay State Herget road win at Rodman Arena.