Laurel -- Winning a championship can sometimes come down to inches and seconds. For Mount St. Joseph's hockey team, losing came down to the width of a puck in a 6-4 loss to Gonzaga in the Maryland Scholastic Hockey League's private schools championship at the Gardens Ice House last night.
Gonzaga's Sean Dinn stuffed the puck between the pad of Gaels goalie Tom Bowles and the left goal post with 42 seconds remaining to give the Eagles a 5-4 lead. The Eagles added an empty-net goal for the final margin after Mount St. Joseph had pulled its goalie.
Brad Hresko had two goals for the Gaels (13-1-1), and Ryan Holly added two for the Eagles.
The championship was the second straight for Gonzaga (12-0-2), which defeated DeMatha in last year's private schools final.
"I stuck the pad between the goalie's skate and the post," said Dinn. "He moved his foot to make the save, and luckily the ref saw it go in."
The Gaels' undoing was their ability to stay out of the penalty box. Mount St. Joseph was called for only 16 minutes in penalties, but they all seemed to come at crucial times. Dinn's goal was scored three seconds after a Gaels penalty had expired and the team was trying to clear the puck out of its defensive zone.
"We tried to win the game from the penalty box, and you can't do that," said Gaels senior Kevin Miller. "You win and lose games on things so simple, and that was what killed us tonight."
The Gaels seemed to play catchup all night. They spotted the Eagles a 2-0 lead before finally tying the game on goals by Brady Earle and Hresko just 30 seconds into the third period.
Gonzaga took the lead on a Holly goal exactly two minutes later, but Mount St. Joseph battled back, tying the game at 3 on Hresko's second goal on a beautiful feed from Miller from behind the net.
The Gaels found most of their success on the power play, scoring three of their four goals when the Eagles were a man short. In the end, it was not enough.
"It was a great game, but we came up short," said Gaels coach Erv Terwilliger. "Hockey is a game of bounces, and it just didn't bounce our way."
In the earlier public school final, Montgomery County's Winston Churchill built a four-goal lead, then withstood a furious rally to defeat Severna Park, 6-5.
Matt Tinordi led Severna Park with two goals.
The championship was the first for the Bulldogs, who had lost twice in the league final.
The Bulldogs (13-0-0) took a 6-2 lead on a Pasha Zand goal 4:25 into the third period, but the Falcons chipped away. Brian Bocskor scored on a rebound with 5:41 left to make it 6-3, then Tinordi fired a high slap shot that eluded Churchill goalie Marc Fisher to bring the margin to 6-4 with 3:57 remaining.
After Churchill was called for a tripping penalty with 2:21 left, Tinordi again scored on a blast from the blue line with 42 seconds left to cut the margin to 6-5. The Falcons (12-3-0) put pressure on Fisher, but could never get the equalizer.
"We just needed a little more time," Tinordi said. "We were our own worst enemies, and didn't capitalize on the chances we had early in the game."