Gonzaga junior Farrell Dinn received the pass from teammate Sean Kilcullen on the right wing and surveyed his surrounding. Usually, he’ll keep the puck moving, but a result from 11 days earlier prompted him to think differently.
In a Feb. 11 game against Archbishop Spalding, the Eagles squandered an early lead and lost. But in this moment, in the Mid-Atlantic Prep Hockey League championship Friday, Dinn emphatically delivered with a snap of the wrist.
Four minutes after Spalding tied the game at The Gardens Ice House in Laurel, Dinn rifled his second of three goals to help script another championship moment for Gonzaga hockey: a 5-1 romp for its sixth MAPHL title in 10 years.
“We definitely felt [Spalding gaining control] on the bench,” Dinn, Gonzaga’s leading scorer, said. “On my second goal, I was going to pass it, but I felt like I had an angle on him. I was right.”
Gonzaga outshot Spalding 26-18 and prevented the Cavaliers from getting into rhythm.
“That’s exactly what we wanted,” said first-year Gonzaga coach Sammy Gerdano, who inherited the reins of Bill Slater, the 2018 All-Met Coach of the Year.
Dinn put Gonzaga ahead 1-0 after 15 minutes of play with a power-play goal from straightaway.
By the end of the first period, the Eagles had established their relentless forecheck led by Kurt Brunn and Luca Docking, but like the 2-1 loss to Spalding a week and a half ago, penalties opened the door. Colin Leary’s cross-check sent the Cavaliers on the power play, which ensued with a flurry of chances before Jimmy Banks tied it at one apiece from deep in the circle with 6:10 left in the second period.
For the next four minutes, Spalding appeared to have solved Gonzaga’s attack. That’s when Dinn circled the right wing on the power play, thinking pass, but, more importantly, eyeballing a lead the No. 2 Eagles never relinquished.
“I just let it fly,” Dinn said. “I definitely caught [Spalding goalie Collin Berke] off guard.”
In the regular season meeting, Berke stopped 41 of Gonzaga’s 42 shots in a 2-1 Spalding victory. But on this night, Dinn and company got the better of him. One minute later, Kilcullen sent home a strike on the break to pad the Eagles’ advantage to 3-1 after two periods. Tommy Krisztinicz added insurance two minutes into the second and Dinn topped it all off with his hat trick.
When it was over, the Eagles rushed freshman goalie Peter Pirone (17 saves). Sticks and equipment flew skyward. Another Maple Cup trophy hoisted and secured.
Said Dinn of his third MAPHL title in as many years: “Winning championships never gets old.”