Repeating as champion is no easy task, just ask St. Peter’s hockey coach Ed Blackburn, who guided the Eagles to the title the past two years.
“I hope to have a great year and have a repeat of last year,” he said. “We have to keep healthy and motivated for that to happen.”
The Eagles appeared to lack that motivation early in the first period Sunday, but rallied from a tow-goal deficit to tie Stepinac, 2-2, at the Ice Hutch in Mount Vernon.
“I read them the riot act right before the third period and told them to get their acts together,” Blackburn said.
After Travis Saladis pulled St. Peter’s (6-2-1 CHSHL B) to within a goal early in the second period, John Galante slotted the equalizer through goaltender Raymond Guerrero’s pads with 5:50 left in the third.
Guerrero made 35 saves, while Chris Buerkle stopped 39 shots. The only two pucks that managed to elude Buerkle came in the final two minutes of the first period as Richard Nathan and Joey Pichiarallo scored for Stepinac (3-6-1).
“We played strong overall and had a very strong first [period],” Crusaders coach Mike Henderson said. “In the second, we took penalties and they chipped away. We couldn’t clear the puck as cleanly and while we had some good opportunities, their goalie really did great and shut us down a lot.”
Stepinac returns to the ice Friday night against Xavier back at the Ice Hutch, while St. Peter’s, which is in a three-way tie for second place, takes on St. Edmund Prep Saturday at Abe Stark Rink.
“We have some tough games coming up,” Blackburn said. “We have to stay on top of our play.”
St. Joseph by the Sea 4, Iona Prep 3
Michael Bronzo scored a pair of goals and had two assists and Luigi Tirro and Anthony DeFede also scored for the Vikings (4-4-2 CHSHL A), which won its third game in four days Sunday at the Ice Hutch. The Gaels, which played Fordham Prep to a 5-5 tie Saturday, are 5-4-2.