Newark, Del. — Control of momentum from the second minute on and goals from each of the Ralsten brothers — senior Lance and sophomore Will — lifted the St. Mark’s Spartans to a 6-2 non-league win over the Hill School’s varsity II program on Wednesday afternoon (Jan. 23) at the Patriot Ice Center.
While Toby Jonson won the initial draw for the Blues and pressed play into Spartans territory from the outset, St. Mark’s senior defenceman Joey Centrone forced a turnover and generated an end-to-end scoring chance, dashing up the right-wing boards before his wrist shot from the bottom of the right circle bounced past Blues goalie Matt Valerio 52 seconds in. After the Spartans’ penalty killing unit shut down the Blues’ attack on four shots through a Centrone interference minor mid-period, the Spartans maintained attacking-zone presence through the final four minutes of the initial frame and carried that momentum into a three-goal second period.
Hill successfully killed off a hooking minor issued to Jonson at the final buzzer of the first period, but gave up a James Morrison one-timer from the high slot at 2:14 to end up down 2-0. Following a failed breakaway at the halfway stage, Lance Ralsten got on the board at 9:31, only for his younger brother Will to find the five-hole from the left point at 11:17 and lift the Spartans to a 4-0 advantage with a period to go, but the Blues got some momentum back after not only killing off a 5-on-3, but adding a short handed goal early in the third.
Thirty-five seconds after his holding minor expired and 38 seconds before Cam Miller’s tripping minor would conclude, a forechecking Jonson stole the puck in the St. Mark’s zone and fired it past goalie Billy Pierce to put the Blues on the board. Huff Benedict cut the Spartans’ lead to 4-2 with 1:45 remaining, potting a power-play goal off an attacking zone draw just nine seconds into a Nick Butler interference minor, but Hill could not build on their new-found momentum, not even with Valerio pulled in favour of an extra attacker through the final minute.
With 28 seconds left and the Spartans up by two, a thrown stick disrupted an apparent Will Ralsten scoring chance up the left side of the Hill zone. According to USA Hockey Rule 637, the younger Ralsten was awarded the goal, and the elder Ralsten followed with an unassisted tally with 3.6 remaining.
Pierce saved 31 of 33 shots faced in victory for the Spartance, while Valerio recorded 27 saves on 32 shots in defeat.