Howard coach Michael Rand offered no excuses.
"[Mount St. Joseph] had too much," said Rand. "We were just outmanned."
Second-seeded Mount St. Joseph controlled play from start to finish and got goals from seven players for a 10-0 victory over third-seeded Howard in a Maryland Scholastic Hockey League semifinal yesterday at Piney Orchard Ice Arena.
Mount St. Joseph, the defending league champion, advances to the championship game on Sunday afternoon at the USAir Arena after the Washington-Tampa Bay game. The Gaels play the winner of today's other semifinal between top-seeded DeMatha and fourth-seeded Landon.
This game -- stopped by the 10-goal rule with 10:03 left -- belonged to Mount St. Joseph (10-1) from the start. The Gaels, whose lone loss was to DeMatha, nearly scored twice in the first 90 seconds and kept the pressure on Howard (9-2-1).
Mount St. Joseph outshot Howard, 45-14, but had numerous chances it did not convert. The Gaels led, 5-0, after one period despite taking 23 shots -- most from around the circles or closer.
"We're not going to have as many opportunities in the next game," said St. Joe coach Erv Terwilliger, whose team won the Northern Division. "We've got to finish better."
Joe Cremen (three goals, two assists), Zach Adams (two goals, one assist) and Gene Battista (one goal, two assists) did finish well. Those three, along with Erv Terwilliger (one assist) and Thomas Weyermann (one goal), repeatedly created scoring chances for the Gaels.
Mount St. Joseph players often zig-zagged and made slick passes to set up good scoring chances while in the Howard zone. The Gaels also manufactured several three-on-two, three-on-one and solo breakaways.
"Sometimes it's kind of hard to connect when you get so many chances," said Cremen, the team's top scorer with 15 goals and 11 assists. "You know not every single puck is going to go in. You just keep plugging away."
And the Gaels did, but Howard goalie Sven Dixon often frustrated them. Mount St. Joseph kept Dixon busy, but the Howard goalie came up big, making 35 saves.
Dixon, who got help from Ryan Yingling on defense, made 18 saves in the first period alone as the Gaels' pressure was relentless.
"They were just all on us," said Dixon. "It was real tough. They didn't stop much."
Howard did find some scoring chances. Joel Sackett had two good shots on a first-period power play, and Welf Dixon and Jory Rand also sparked the offense at times.
But the Mount St. Joseph offense almost never stopped. The Gaels also got help from Brad Webb, Neil Buchlietner and Danny Callihan (all with one goal and one assist) and Ray Byrne (one assist) as they simply wore down Howard.
"We knew they were going to be really strong," said Rand, whose team won the Central Division. "They've just got an excellent team. That's the bottom line."