HINGHAM — Both the Hingham and St. John’s Prep hockey teams were due for a close game — not just in general, but against one another.
The top-ranked Eagles and fourth-ranked Harbormen won their respective season openers by a combined 17-0 margin earlier this week, and had notched lopsided results against the other in each of their last two meetings.
On Saturday at Pilgrim Arena, the teams brought out the best in each other, skating to a 2-2 tie in an early season litmus test for two teams with an eye on bigger games later in the year.
“I think it was a great test for both teams, great preparation for games that’ll matter a lot more down the line,” said St. John’s Prep coach Kristian Hanson.
The Harbormen (1-0-1) had lost to the Eagles, 8-2, last season at the Essex Sports Center. But it was advantage Hingham at Pilgrim in 2019, the Harbormen rolling to a 9-1 early-season decision that year.
St. John’s Prep (1-0-1), which returned 16 players from last winter’s Division 1 champion, struck first following a scoreless opening frame on the power play with an Aidan Holland strike at 2:35 of the second. Not down for long, Hingham responded just 1:21 later on the first career goal for sophomore defenseman Alec Dzavik.
The Harbormen were in peril later in the period, however, forced to kill off a 5-minute penalty which wrapped around the end of the second and beginning of the third.
“It is tough, you lose that momentum you had killing it,” Hingham coach Tony Messina said of the wrap-around penalty kill, which consumed the first 1:21 of the third. “The other thing is, the ice is fresh when you come out. A team like that, to whip the puck around on fresh ice, it’s a little more difficult. We were fortunate.”
After killing off another penalty in the third period, Charlie Even broke out of the box and was able to tie up a loose puck along the end wall for the Harbormen, shuffling back to Michael Garrity in front for a 2-1 Hingham lead at 10:27 of the third.
But the Eagles, trailing for the first time on the young season, secured the equalizer on a two-on-one rush from Ben MacGilvray to Will Van Sicklin at 13:30.
A five-minute overtime period — following three 17-minute periods, which the teams opted to play — featured a bevy of chances for each team but ultimately, solved nothing.
Luke McLellan made 28 saves for the Harbormen, Brian Cronin 13 for the Prep.
“It was a great battle, the environment tonight was pretty exciting for the boys to play in,” Hanson said. “This is one of those rinks where there really is a home ice advantage. Kudos to Hingham for coming out and supporting their team and creating the fun environment.”