It was a crucial bounce-back effort from the St. Mark’s side, who dropped three consecutive decisions prior, falling to Newark/Tatnall, Delaware Military Academy, and Monsignor Bonner leading up to their matchup with Hill.
Will Ralsten led the Spartans’ charge with four goals, including two power-play goals and a short-handed goal, while senior alternate captain Patrick Swain notched a hat trick and two assists.
Ralsten opened the scoring for St. Mark’s 4:07 into the first period, beating Hill goalie Matt Valerio with a top-shelf power-play goal from just in front of the crease before Swain gave his Spartans a second goal 8:59 in. Swain, who leads the Spartans with 16 goals in Inter-County Scholastic Hockey League (ICSHL) play, carried the puck up the right side before firing a wrist shot past Valerio from inside the right dot.
Despite entering the second period with a 2-0 advantage, St. Mark’s slipped to a resurgent Rams offence in the middle frame. Largely fuelled by Toby Jonson, whose redirect from the right edge of the crease at 2:29 gave him his 24th seasonal goal, the Hill attack came from all angles—including the blue line. Defencemen Lewis Gimbert and Yash Singh followed to beat Spartans netminder Billy Pierce from above the faceoff dots and put Hill up 3-2 with just over four minutes left in the second period, but close-up tap-ins from Swain and Ralsten in the final two minutes of the period put the Spartans back on top, 4-3, before they teamed up to pad their advantage in the third.
Ralsten added another power-play goal 7:21 into the third, while Swain sped past two Hill defenders in the neutral zone to generate a successful stick-side breakaway chance with four minutes to go. Still, the pair may well have saved their best for last in the final minute, when Swain beautifully set Ralsten up for a short-handed breakaway. Swain, at the St. Mark’s blue line, chipped the puck into the air through the neutral zone, hit Ralsten just shy of the Hill blue line, and Ralsten connected to solidify a 7-3 Spartans win with 38 seconds remaining.
Billy Pierce bounced back well in net, registering 20 saves on 23 shots. Valerio, who dropped to 3-2-0 in defeat, saved 20 of 27 St. Mark’s shots faced.