TYNGSBOROUGH, Mass. — Gary Bishop has been coaching high school hockey long enough to understand that you cannot allow yourself to play down to the level of your competition.
With coach Gary Bishop’s red-hot Bishop Guertin boys’ hockey team playing host to winless Manchester Memorial Wednesday evening, all indications pointed to a trap game.
The Cardinals of Nashua could have easily taken the bait. Instead, they made sure there was zero chance of that happening. Led by junior forward Aaron Pratt’s hat trick, BG rolled past the Crusaders 7-0 in an NHIAA Division I tilt at Skate 3 Arena. The Cardinals improve to 4-2, having won four straight.
“We made a point about not being complacent,” said Bishop. “We haven’t been scoring a lot of goals. We’ve played well defensively but just OK offensively. We hadn’t been going to the net real well and that’s all we’ve been working on in our practices. Tonight we did a better job at that.”
Putting up the first 12 shots of the game, BG stormed out to a 2-0 lead after one period. Ben Young’s power-play tally at 3:33 was followed up a short time later by goal from Pratt, who took a nice behind-the-net feed from Young, and one-timed his shot past Memorial goaltender Matt Scott at 7:03.
“We all have been working hard during practice just to try and get better every day,” Pratt said. “I think it’s starting to show. Everyone on this team is contributing and it has been great for us. We are young so we just need to keep bonding. As we do that, we should get better.”
The Crusaders (0-7, having now been out-scored 44-4) offered little resistance as the Cardinals were able to move the puck freely inside the attacking zone and create plenty of space.
BG, who should be a serious contender yet again come playoff time, extended its lead to three goals at the 11:17 mark of the middle frame. Playing with the man advantage, Mike Kiely’s hard wrist shot that landed just under the crossbar gave the Cardinals a bit of cushion. BG outshot the Crusaders 40-7.
“These kids are young but they are getting better,” said Bishop, now in his 27th year. “Tonight we were able to put up a lot of shots, which was nice to see.”
In the third period, BG opened its offense up to full throttle by netting four goals. Pratt got it started with a goal 1:05 into the frame. That was followed by scores from Sean Kelley, Declan Wilkie and Pratt again to close things out.
“Aaron can score but he can really skate too,” Bishop said. “Him being able to scoot around the ice has really improved his game.”