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Guerard notches hat trick as Latin Academy tops East Boston

Posted by Metro Desk  January 20, 2014 01:51 PM

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Propelled by senior captain Mark Guerard’s hat trick, the Latin Academy boys’ hockey team skated to a 5-3 win over Boston City League rival East Boston Monday morning at Northeastern’s Matthews Arena.

“All I did was just try to help my team win,” Guerard said. “I mean, Eastie’s a great team, they got great players, can’t say anything bad about that team and their goalie played outstanding. I was just lucky to get a few lucky bounces and you know what, I just needed to put my chances away and I did.”

Guerard, a forward, brought his goal total for the season to nine. Freshman forward Joey O’Leary and senior defeseman Peter O’Donnell also scored for the Dragons. Latin Academy goalie Thomas Guarino, an East Boston native, recorded more than 20 saves in the victory.

“He’s from East Boston, so this is a real rivalry game for him,” Dragons coach Bob McCormick said. “He’s outstanding. He’s only in eighth grade and he has been sensational all year and we’re real lucky to have him.”

O’Leary kicked off the scoring in the first period, but East Boston got on the board shortly thereafter. The score remained tied at one at the end of the first period.

“Joey O’Leary was outstanding today, played two-way hockey, he’s a real good talent,” McCormick said. “We’re looking forward to seeing him develop.”

Guerard scored his first goal midway through the second period to give Latin Academy a 2-1 lead. But East Boston tallied the equalizer less than a minute later, following a scramble in front of the net. The game was knotted, 2-2, after two periods.

“The thing was, we were kind of skating with them,” Guerard said. “We needed to show that we could skate harder. And so what I said to the guys in the locker room was just move your feet, look up, make the right play, don’t take any dumb penalties and we’ll win this game.”

Latin Academy controlled the faceoff to begin the third period. The Dragons had a number of scoring chances in the first few minutes of the frame, including a breakaway by O’Leary that was well-defended by two East Boston skaters.

O’Donnell finally broke the tie and gave Latin Academy a 3-2 advantage with 10:57 left, but the Dragons were not content with the slim lead, fully aware that East Boston could come back again.

Guerard gave Latin Academy a two-goal cushion with 4:50 to go as he notched his second goal of the game with a sizzling shot from the right circle. The puck ripped past the goaltender and ended up in the opposite corner of the net.

East Boston scored a power-play goal with just over four minutes to play, cutting the Dragons’ lead to one. The Jets threatened to tie the game once again, but Latin Academy’s defense shut down quality scoring chances and Guarino made some big saves in the final minutes.

“The end of the game, it was really nerve-racking, but I knew I had to come up big,” Guarino said. “I think I could’ve done better still, but it was a good game.”

McCormick praised his team’s defense.

“The defense was strong,” McCormick said. “[Junior defenseman] Nick Mastrogiacomo was unbelievable today. He’s been a junior leader, too, one of the assistant captains. Nick Mastrogiacomo is one of our best players and he’s really talented. He’s been stepping up every game lately.”

With just 28 seconds left to play, Guerard scored on a breakaway to complete the hat trick and seal the win.

“Our captain, Mark Guerard, has been carrying this team on his back all year and we’re really grateful,” McCormick said. “His leadership is second to none. We’re really excited and very lucky to have him.

"We have a very young team — 11 freshmen and two eighth graders — and Mark Guerard and our other captain, Peter O’Donnell, a defenseman, have been playing outstanding and [have displayed] great leadership.”

The Dragons improved to 4-6 overall with the win. They are undefeated in City League play and are a serious threat to repeat as City League champions.

“The thing we need to do to be successful is just keep our heads about us, go out there with the mind-set every team can beat us but we can also beat them,” Guerard said. “You know every team is good, nothing’s for sure. We need to go out there, play our game, know how we can and just put the puck in the back of the net.”

Originally published on the blog The High School Sports Blog.

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