Xavier, St. Francis Prep skate to 5-5 tie
There were no mixed messages after St. Francis Prep and Xavier played to a 5-5 tie in a CHSHL Class B league game at World Ice Arena in Flushing Monday.
While each team returns home with a point, it was obvious only one was pleased to do so.
“I’m happy with our performance,” Xavier coach Al Dimauro said. “We started out slow, but we’re coming on strong.”
That sentiment wasn’t shared with St. Francis Prep coach Mike Watts.
“Their goalie played well, but a little more movement on the puck by us, better defense would have helped,” he said. “It’s tough. It’s the third time on the season for us and I don’t particularly care for ties.”
The result pushes both St. Francis Prep (7-2-3) and Xavier (8-3-1) into a second place tie with St. Peter’s, just two points behind division-leading Holy Cross.
The Knights (9-1-1) picked up a forfeit win against Stepinac in what was scheduled to be the second game of a doubleheader in Flushing. The Crusaders only had six skaters and no goalie.
Xavier didn’t have that problem Monday as sophomore netminder Danny Joyce had another solid outing despite giving up five goals. He’s been a big part of the Knights resurgence in the second half of the season.
“Our goalie has just been phenomenal,” Cameron Neely said.
The same can be said of Neely on Monday. Like the former Boston Bruins great with the same name, Neely was a dominant force. The power forward, who missed games early in the season with a broken bone in his hand, led Xavier offensively with two goals and two assists.
His two goals came in a 1:23 span after Steven Leonard put St. Francis Prep in front 1:34 into the first period.
“St. Francis Prep is a good team,” Dimauro said. “They have three key guys who keep coming at you and don’t quit, but we have our share of players. It was a total team effort tonight.”
Aaron Acosta responded with the first of his two goals on a backhand in front with 4:44 left in the first period, but Neely set up Michael Flynn with 1:32 left as Xavier took a 3-2 lead into the second period.
Patrick Schule struck twice early in the second period to put the Terriers in front, 4-3, in this see-saw battle and appeared to add another for the hat trick. But the goal was controversially called off because it was ruled a St. Francis Prep player was in the crease.
“It was a goal,” Watts said. “I don’t think he was in the crease, but it is what it is. You have to live with those decisions.”
Tyler D'Agostino tied the game up less than a minute later and the teams were deadlocked at 4 heading into the final period.
Acosta scored an unassisted shorthanded goal 1:37 into the third period, but again St. Francis Prep couldn't hang onto the lead as James Ciminelli stuffed in his third rebound on the power play with 5:13 left. It was one of several man-advantages the Knights had.
While Xavier, which has nine sophomores and five freshman on its roster, doesn’t move up in the CHSHL Class B standings, the tie proves to the young Knights they can play against one of the league’s elite with a second encounter scheduled for next Tuesday in Bayonne, N.J.
“This is a good test of our team and it really shows we can compete with this team,” Neely said. “We weren’t really sure.”
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