Focused Friars top playoff-bound Vikings
It’s good to be Danny Peterson.
As a goaltender for the juggernaut St. Anthony hockey team that averages seven goals a game and concedes a little more than one goal a game, Peterson has more than enough firepower in front of him.
Still, Peterson doesn’t rest on his laurels.
“It’s always good to know you have insurance because we score a lot of goals every game,” Peterson said. “But I still have to keep my head in it and make sure I don’t cost my team the game.”
The same is true about the Friars, who remain focused despite having long since clinched the No. 1 seed in the CHSHL Class A playoffs.
That’s because the quest for an undefeated season continues. On Monday, the Friars defeated St. Joseph by the Sea, 6-1, at World Ice Arena in Flushing to improve to 15-0-0.
There’s one more regular season remaining, Friday against a Monsignor Farrell squad that needs a win to make the playoffs.
“I think this is the first season we’ve been undefeated so far so it’s nice to keep that up,” Nick Nici said. “It’s a little motivation, especially going toward States, trying to win that. If we can keep an undefeated season, that would be pretty cool.”
Like St. Anthony’s, St. Joseph by the Sea (7-7-2) has already booked its postseason ticket and will likely finish second or third, which would mean avoiding the Friars in the opening round. Sea coach Anthony Larca rested standout goalie Rob Palumbo and gave backup Daniel Yurkins a rare start in the Vikings’ regular-season finale.
“In the beginning of the year I told the kids the goal was to make the playoffs,” St. Joseph by the Sea coach Anthony Larca said. “We accomplished that goal and now our next goal is to win the first series. We really have to buckle down against whoever we play.”
Nici scored a pair of first-period goals, but the Friars lead after 15 minutes was just 2-1 because Michael Bronzo beat Peterson with 3:47 left in the first.
“I just threw it at the net and got a little lucky,” Nici said. “The puck was rolling, put a shot on the ice and it went five-hole.”
After Chris Sabanos gave St. Anthony’s a 3-1 lead 3:46 into the second, Phil Garcia sprung Bronzo on goal with 5:29 left in the second, but Peterson came up with a huge save to deny the Vikings star a breakaway goal.
“It was a good chance, but I just stayed with him, was patient and slid right across and made a left pad save on him,” Peterson said.
When tested, Peterson, who made 26 saves, has come up big for the Friars, according to assistant coach Anthony Auciello.
“He made a bunch of pretty incredible saves tonight,” he said. “To be honest, both [Peterson and Ralph Dispigna] have grown so much this season that we feel comfortable with either in net.”
A little more than two minutes later, Jimmy Mazza scored a power play goal to give the Friars a 4-1 lead going into the third. Dispigna and Sabanos added third-period goals for a deep and dangerous St. Anthony’s squad.
“They have talent from 1-25 [on their game-day roster],” Larca said. “They have four lines of talent. The five kids they scratch are my second and third liners.”
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