The memory of last year's Maryland Scholastic Hockey League semifinal still haunts Mount St. Joseph.
Mount St. Joe outplayed Landon of Bethesda, but gave up two short-handed breakaway goals on the same penalty for a 3-2 loss. When the Gaels took the ice yesterday against Oakland Mills, they were not about to make the same mistake again.
Mount St. Joseph, led by Chris Montante's four goals, plus two apiece from Zach Adams, Joey Cremen and Mike Maher, quickly jumped on top with six first-period goals and coasted to a 12-2 victory over Oakland Mills at Piney Orchard Ice Arena.
The Gaels (11-0) advance to the championship game against Landon at 3:45 p.m. Tuesday at the USAir Arena, before the Washington Capitals-Tampa Bay Lightning game. Landon defeated defending champion DeMatha, 5-2, on Wednesday.
The semifinal was stopped with 8:46 remaining because of the MSHL's 10-goal differential rule.
Mount St. Joe, the Northern Division champion, dominated from start to finish. The Gaels simply had too much speed for Central Division champion Oakland Mills (7-3-1).
Despite playing less than a full game, Mount St. Joe outshot Oakland Mills, 37-11. Montante added the final touch by scoring two goals 47 seconds apart to give the Gaels a 10-goal lead to end the game.
"We weren't looking past them," said Montante. "We were going through them."
Oakland Mills coach Bill Campbell hoped to slow down the pace and use a neutral-zone trap against the Gaels. But Mount St. Joe kept the puck in the Oakland Mills' end so often the Scorpions could not execute the trap even once.
"We tried to slow them down, and we couldn't do it," said Campbell. "They're an excellent team."
Mount St. Joe kept Oakland Mills goalie Iggy Levelev busy from the start. The Gaels fired 18 shots at him in the first period, scoring on three of their first six shots.
Maher and Adams each had two assists, while Cremen added one. Thomas Weyermann (two assists) and Bryan Woodward also scored a goal apiece for the Gaels.
Tim Williamson and Jeremy Almazan scored for Oakland Mills. Williamson's goal was short-handed and gave the Scorpions a brief lift 20 seconds into the second period.
Mount St. Joe coach Erv Terwilliger used a pre-game speech from Paul "Knobby" Harris to fire up his team. Harris played on the last undefeated Mount St. Joe team (1943) and coached its last championship team (1951). The Gaels came out flying and never let up.
Since the first day of practice, the Gaels have pointed toward getting to the title game.
"We've been focused on winning the championship," said Montante. "That's our total goal."
And now that they've made it, having to play Landon adds some extra incentive.
Mount St. Joe was bitterly disappointed after last year's loss. Players sat around the rink for several minutes, hardly believing what happened.
The Gaels should be pumped up on Tuesday.
"That's who bumped us last year," said Terwilliger. "We were disappointed last year. It took a year to get back here and Tuesday's our time."