In their final home game before the playoffs, St. John’s held onto a first period lead to secure a 3-2 win over Archbishop Spalding.
The game was preceded by a ceremony honoring seniors Andrew Skinner, Luke Kodak, Robert Scalzo, and captain Jack Barbour.
“This is one of our favorite classes, they’re all unique personalities,” head coach Gregg Marinari said of his seniors. “It adds to the locker room and sets the tone on the ice. We’re gonna miss them.”
After Spalding opened the scoring just over two minutes into the game, the Cadets answered quickly and strongly, scoring three unanswered goals in under seven minutes. Skinner and Andrew Kurowksi ’22 both recorded even strength goals, while AJ Maner ’21 scored the team’s only power play goal on a 5-on-3 advantage.
“It felt pretty good to know that the one goal made a difference in a 3-2 game,” Kurowksi said after the game. “As a freshman, that’s pretty big.”
The game quickly turned more physical as Spalding looked to regain an edge. The Cavaliers ended the game with 14 penalty minutes, including seven from the second period alone.
“We’re a team that’s small, young, and fast, so a lot of teams can’t skate with us. So they try to hit us and slow us down,” Marinari said after the game.
“They played the same [as] they did last week,” Kurowski added, referring to the two teams’ last matchup on Jan. 25. “We knew it was coming, but today we played too much into it. Next time we’ll just have to come out faster and stronger than they are.”
Spalding’s penalty kill was lethal, as St John’s went only 1-5 on the power play all night. The Cavaliers threatened toward the end of the second, cutting the lead in half with 1:42 left in the second period. However, a perfect third period from freshman goalie Jack Spicer ensured a victory for the Cadets.
“The Spalding offense is always really good,” Spicer said after the win. “They have Evan Donnelly, and he’s got probably the hardest shot in the league, so it’s always a challenge when they get shots in.”
Marinari added: “Today’s game was challenging because the shots were so sporadic, and he did a good job of staying mentally focused and dealing with the shots as they came…in bunches, one, two, three at a time. He did a good job of staying out of the drama and staying focused.”
St John’s, ranked fourth in the region by The Washington Post, improved to 12-4-1 with only two regular season games remaining: today against Georgetown Prep and Friday against Bishop O’Connell.
“It’s always tough to beat a team of that caliber twice back-to-back,” Marinari said. “It always seems to get a little more heated because the players know each other and go back after each other.”
Maner added: “Not our best, but it’s a win. I think we’re on a roll, and we’re ready to keep it going up and through playoffs.”
As it was the final home game for the senior class, some players shared their feelings on the four players moving on from St John’s.
“Skinner…he may be the funniest person I’ve ever met,” Kurowksi said when asked who his favorite senior player was. Marinari described him as “very light in the locker room, and [he] has the big brother presence.”
Maner, an alternate captain, shared appreciate for his captain, Barbour. “I rode with him all year, so me and him have developed a tight bond.”
Barbour described his last game with the team: “It was really exciting, a little sad to be playing in my last game here at St John’s, but there’s no group of boys I would rather play my last game [with].”
Marinari also said that “Luke [Kodak]’s a fantastic teammate, works hard, lays guys out, so he’s doing some of the heavy lifting that some of the young guys aren’t doing.” Spicer said Robert “Bob” Scalzo was “the best backup goalie in the league.”
Next Tuesday, St. John’s will host its first home playoff game in program history, against Bishop O’Connell at 4:00 pm.
“The program’s moving in the right direction. You have both St. John’s [varsity] teams heading towards championships, and hosting home playoff games, which is great,” Marinari said, alluding to the girls’ varsity team and their WCAC championship game next Wednesday against the Academy of the Holy Cross.
Barbour downplayed the upcoming playoffs. “We’re just looking one game ahead. We feel good about Prep, we feel good about O’Connell, and we feel even better about the playoffs. We think we’re the best team in the league.”