Cards complete magical run
MANCHESTER – They played like they had something to prove.
And what better way to prove you’re a good hockey team than by winning a state championship, and with your best player doing most of the damage?
“Nothing like an underdog, baby,” Guertin senior forward John Krapian said,
The Cardinals used the underdog label throughout the Division I boys hockey tournament, and so did their unheralded top scorer, Justin Pearson. All Pearson did was record his second straight tournament hat trick to pace the No. 8, 13-9 Cards to a dominant 4-1 title triumph over third-ranked Concord early Saturday evening at the Verizon Wireless Arena.
“I just wanted to do it for my team, for my coach. They’re great,” Pearson said. “We had to win.”
Not only did they win; they controlled almost everything. Guertin trailed 1-0 after the first period on the scoreboard, but on the ice the Cards, who ended up outshooting Concord 24-9, were clearly the better team, getting to every loose puck.
“We moved our feet,” said Guertin coach Gary Bishop, who earned his fifth title as the Cards coach in a Guertin career that has spanned over two decades. “We moved our feet the whole game. “
Nobody moved his feet more than Pearson, who was simply spectacular, adding an assist to his hat trick while totaling eight goals in four playoff games.
“We knew he was going to be dangerous,” Concord coach Duncan Walsh said, his team finishing at 15-5-1. “His first goal, the puck should have been cleared…the second was a good shot, but the third was a scorer’s goal.”
Pearson began his onslaught with a power play goal at 3:12 of the second period, tying the game 1-1. His second, at even strength, came just over two minutes later, as he wristed one from just outside the faceoff circle with an assist to Jason Lutcza and Tim Trudel.
His third was a thing of beauty, as he found the short side against Nelson at 13:59 of the second, coming down left wing. John Krapian fed him up ice for the assist.
There wasn’t much room between Tide goalie Ben Nelson (20 saves) and the post, but Pearson found it.
As Bishop said, “He showed what he can do.” Concord scored a similar goal, as junior Matt Norris streaked down right wing and beat Guertin netminder Alex Hall short side just 3:02 into the game. But Guertin’s defense, led by Lutcza and Nick Apostolakes, made sure Norris and other Tide skaters didn’t have that chance again, as Hall (eight saves) was barely tested the rest of the way.
“They’ve got a couple of kids (Norris and Alex Orcutt) who can really shoot the puck,” Bishop said, “and we made sure those kids didn’t shoot the puck.”
And after Norris’ goal, the Cards came alive, Pearson igniting a vibrant offense. He almost scored in the first period as well, missing an open net to the left while a delayed penalty was called on the Tide.
He ended up assisting on Guertin’s final goal of the game, a power play score off the stick of Lutcza at 4:16 of the third. It basically sealed the deal.
“It’s disappointing, just because of the way we played,” Walsh said. “BG’s a good team. They just manhandled us. Even in the first period, I said, ‘Guys, we’re up 1-0, but we’re not getting any pressure…They (BG) came out with a lot of confidence.”
And that confidence was evident immediately at the start of the second period.
“Even though we were down 1-0 we continued with really that same confidence,” Apostolakes said. “We didn’t worry about the first period, that was just a breakdown.“This is an amazing feeling.”