FITCHBURG — The St. Bernard’s hockey team was in survival against Gardner mode late in the third period Monday night.
The Bernardians let a three-goal lead slip away in the final period and had to withstand a furious Wildcats rally to hang on for a 3-2 win inside the Wallace Civic Center’s Gaetz Arena.
St. Bernard’s has now won three straight games to climb above the .500 mark at 4-3. The Wildcats fall to 2-5 overall
“I like what I saw. The boys are really starting to play well together and staying disciplined,” said St. Bernard’s first-year head coach Stephen Sylvia. “I said it at the beginning of the year, our success is going to be based on how disciplined we are. We are really becoming a good hockey team right now. The kids are really buying into the system.”
St. Bernard’s enjoyed a 3-0 lead early in the third period thanks to goals by Eric Walker, Colin Majowicz and Ben Stout before the Wildcats answered with goals from Cullan White and Jayden Patel just 1:11 apart to pull within 3-2 with 6:12 remaining in the contest.
With St. Bernard’s still clinging to its one-goal advantage, the Wildcats pulled goalie Mark Quinn (24 saves) for an extra attacker with 45 seconds left. It appeared the Wildcats netted the game-tying goal shortly after, but it was waved off by the official and Gardner was assessed an interference penalty.
The guests couldn’t recover as St. Bernard’s and goalie Chase Bergeron (30 saves) shut down the Gardner attack to preserve the win.
“Chase is a freshman this year and he’s been solid for us every time he steps on the ice,” said Sylvia. “He’s only going to continue to get better, just like the rest of this hockey team. I like the direction we’re headed in.”
The Bernardians enjoyed a 1-0 lead on a power play goal by Walker at the 12:48 mark of the first period.
The hosts doubled their advantage early in the second period when Majowicz beat Quinn with a scoring chance 3:40 into the middle frame.
St. Bernard’s netted its third goal 7:32 into the third period courtesy of Stout for what at the time felt like an insurmountable 3-0 lead.
“You never know what’s going to happen in those late-game situations,” said Sylvia. “Something we’ve been trying to do the last three or four games is chipping pucks to space and use our speed. We are a fast hockey team, we’re really quick. I’m proud of these guys and the way they played tonight.”
Both squads return to action on Saturday afternoon. The Bernardians host St. Joseph Prep at the Wallace Civic Center while the Wildcats welcome Peabody to Veterans Rink in Gardner.