Culver stuns Mount U18 team
After strong start to PHC showcase, Mount drops finale to Eagles
WOONSOCKET — The Mount Academy U18 team was just five minutes from finishing off an undefeated Prep Hockey Conference showcase weekend.
But, even though they were leading Culver Academies of Indiana by a goal late in the third period, there were signs throughout the final period the Eagles were starting to gain control of a game they were outplayed in for the better part of two periods.
Mount senior Michael Calabret stoned Culver forward Zach Zhang with eight minutes left and he also made a string of saves earlier in the period to keep the one-goal lead. Eventually, Culver’s pressure proved to be too much because Larry Keenan and Jacob Padgett scored goals 31 seconds apart late in the period to secure a 4-3 victory Monday afternoon at Adelard Arena.
The defeat was not only Mount’s first in PHC play after starting the campaign 6-0, it was also the team’s first loss in the last six games under first-year coach Drew Omicioli. Mount, which is now 16-4-2 headed into this weekend’s Northeast Pack event in Pittsburgh, defeated the top team in Canada and the United States in the previous two afternoons.
In Saturday’s showcase opener against Canadian powerhouse St. Andrew’s College, Nova Scotia native Hunter Bruce produced a hat trick and Sam Carosello added three assists in a 7-3 victory. The follow afternoon, No. 1 Shattuck St. Mary’s was the opponent and for the second straight meeting, Mount rode a strong goaltending performance to a victory.
Just like in last spring’s USA Hockey National semifinal win when Jack Spicer stymied the Sabres, Cody Butikis made 47 saves, as Mount used early goals from Nick Metelkin, Thomas Neu and North Kingstown’s Pat Murphy to secure a 5-3 victory.
Omicoli’s team, which is the No. 2 ranked Tier-I team in the country, didn’t trail the entire weekend until Padgett’s winner 4:21 left in the final period. For the third time in as many games, Mount jumped out to a lead just 33 seconds into the contest when the Eagles failed to clear the puck at the blue line and that allowed center Anthony Cardilli to find captain Jake Gutwirth for his sixth goal of the season.
Keenan tied the game eight minutes later on a blast from the right circle, but Mount went into intermission with the lead when a poor Culver change created a chance for a pair of players
on the NHL Central Scouting Players to Watch list combined for a goal. Left winger Blake Montgomery fed right winger Chase Pirtle, who used his quick hands to score in tight.
Padgett tied the game, but with just two seconds left in the period, Murphy, a Brown commit, and Pirtle set up Daniel Prazma for a power-play goal.
After dominating the first two periods with a withering forecheck, Mount ceded territory to the Eagles in the third period and that changed the complexion of the game. After facing just 15 shots through the first two periods, Calabret saw 13 high-quality chances in the final period.
The senior made a number of key saves to keep the lead, but Keenan, who was also a C-rated player by Central Scouting and his headed for Umass, scored a power-play goal from the blue line at 15:08 of the period. Padgett scored 31 seconds later for the game-winning goal. Calabret made 24 saves, while Vaughn Makar made 27 saves to earn the win.
Mount gets another shot at Culver on Jan. 21 when the teams meet in another PHC showcase event in Detriot. That event comes two weeks after Mount attempts to defend the True Prep Cup titles the team won under former coach Matt Plante in 2019 and 2021.