It took Nick Platais three takes to figure out exactly what he wanted to say. The Gonzaga goalie handed off the Mid-Atlantic Prep Hockey League championship trophy to a teammate and prepared to answer questions about the Eagles’ second consecutive league title.
“We knew it would be a big game,” he finally said. “We had to show up and get the ‘W.’ I don’t feel like my season would have been complete if we hadn’t.”
Platais was rightfully flustered. His 41-save performance allowed the top-ranked Eagles to earn their third title in five years and cap an undefeated season with a 3-1 win over Baltimore’s Calvert Hall in Laurel.
“He deserves the accolades,” Gonzaga Coach Nate Jackson said. “It was a team effort, but he can’t score goals for us; he can only stop them. He’s the best goalie in this league, likely, and possibly this area.”
The Cardinals outshot Gonzaga 42-23 and kept the Eagles scoreless through the first 15 minutes for the second time this season. The only other time Gonzaga went into the second period without a goal was in a 2-1 victory at Calvert Hall in early January.
The Eagles swept through the 2013-2014 season with “as complete of a team as you could conceive,” Jackson said. “This team hates losing, and our record is a testament to that.”
The outlier on the Eagles’ 26-0-1 record came from a 2-2 tie against the Cardinals on Dec. 4.
“This is the only team that has given us problems,” Jackson added.
Barlow Sanders put the Eagles up one with a power-play goal with 7 minutes 18 seconds left in the second. Dominik Pettey scored again one minute and 15 seconds later. Calvert Hall’s lone goal came on a five-on-three power play after Platais deftly blocked shot after shot through the shorthanded two minutes.
The Eagles weren’t used to being in close games (they outscored opponents 15-0 through the playoffs), but they held up through increasingly chippy conditions.
Calvert Hall (20-3-2) fell to the Eagles in last year’s final, 6-1, and took its only losses of the season to Gonzaga. The game became more and more physical as the older, more experienced Cardinals were frustrated with their inability to convert.
“Nothing came easy today,” said senior captain Bobby Hally. “But that made it that much more satisfying.
St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (14-5) took the A Division championship earlier in the evening in Laurel with a 4-3 overtime win against Good Counsel (7-3). The Saints were down 3-1 at the start of the third period. Graham Liam brought the game within a goal and Max Simpson scored his second goal of the night to tie the game with 2:19 remaining in regulation.
The winning score came 16 seconds into the overtime period.