Pinkerton stops Guertin in Division I state title classic
EXETER — In a state championship classic, drenched with momentum swings and runs, Pinkerton Academy had the final answer, defending its Division I title in a 14-12 thriller over top-seeded Bishop Guertin.
That answer was senior Gennaro Marra.
The Astros faceoff automaton owned the final 59.4 seconds. Marra’s first draw win set up Mason Drouin’s game-winner with 37 seconds left. His second ended things, as with the Cardinals scrambling, Drouin scored what amounted to an empty-net goal to ice it, making it two straight titles for the Astros, three in the last five seasons.
Down 5-1 early, BG burst to a 9-6 third-quarter lead, only to see it slip away as the Cards actually trailed, 12-10, in the fourth.
A stunning strip and steal by Cardinals’ goalie James Heitmiller set up the Dawson Clark equalizer, 12-12, with 59.4 seconds left, delighting the Guertin crowd.
“Even when they scored to tie it, I said to relax. We have Gennaro,” said Astros’ coach Brian O’Reilly.
That confidence was certainly rewarded, spoiling the Cardinals’ night and ending their season at 19-3.
You could make the case that the youthful Cards deserved a better fate.
Guertin coach Chris Cameron characterized his team’s effort as “very gutsy.” Most would take it a step further and deem it courageous.
With only two seniors who see regular action, BG was slow arriving to the Bill Ball Stadium turf, at least emotionally.
“We’re such a young team, and we felt the effects of that youth early,” said Cameron.
Still, after spotting the Astros the quick advantage through a quarter, BG put on a show, ripping off an 8-1 flurry over periods two and three to take a 9-6 lead into the fourth.
Junior Sean Cameron dazzled in that barrage, but he wasn’t alone by any stretch. Cardinal classmate Ben Abladian netted three in the first half, including one where he shrugged off at least four swarming Astros to get to the front of the cage and deliver, making it 5-5.
Abladian’s biggest play of the night, though, was a pass, hitting Dawson Clark, to give Guertin its first lead of the night, 6-5, with 1.1 seconds left on the first-half clock.
Cameron, Mason Carroll and Chris Kiely would score in the third, again which BG owned, to make it 9-6 with 12 minutes to a state title.
It just wasn’t meant to be, though.
“We were on the 8-1 run to start the fourth, and our nerves just got the best of us,” said coach Cameron. “We had them on the ropes, and we just lost our composure.”
Hunter Drouin’s goal got the Astros started and back into the faceoff circle, where Marra (21 of 30 on draws) made his last statement as a high school athlete.
Twice in the game, once in the third and once in the fourth, he took the faceoff cleanly and drove straight down the chute untouched for goals.
“There isn’t anything like the faceoff guy going right down and scoring,” said O’Reilly. “It sucks the life out of a team.”
Pinkerton forged ahead, 12-10, before the Cards made one last stand.
“Those guys played hard,” said Cameron of the Astros. “They outplayed us in the first and fourth quarters.”
Abladian, Cameron and Clark all had Guertin hat-tricks. Kiely finished with a pair of goals for the Cardinals, who got another strong night in goal from Heitmiller, who like seven other BG starters is an underclassman and will be back for more in 2020.