Kevin English is one of many goal scorers on the St. Francis Prep hockey team, but on Friday night the sophomore forward showed what else he can do.
English handed out four assists as the visitors beat rival Nichols, 4-3, before an estimated 400 at Dann Memorial Rink. The game -- the first between St. Francis and Nichols since 1989 -- was a clean, hard-hitting event between two of Western New York's top programs.
"It's mostly just hard work in the corners, digging the puck out and feeding my linemates," said English, who has 12 goals. "Ryan Mackey and Vince Scarsella do a good job putting the puck in the net. I take a lot of pride in assists, but I like to score goals too."
The outcome was in doubt until the final seconds as Nichols went on a power play with 2:07 left and pulled its goalie for an extra attacker, but was unable to tie it.
While Nichols did have a power play goal to take a 1-0 lead in the second period, it was St. Francis' power play that paid the biggest dividends.
"Taking penalties kind of hurt us," said Nichols coach Jake Morris. "They got three power-play goals to our one. They moved the puck around well and came out with those three power-play goals, that's what decided the game."
The first period was scoreless, although both teams had some good scoring chances each with six shots on goal. Nichols came out very aggressively and was outworking St. Francis Prep in the corners, but it didn't yield any goals. Nichols also came up empty during a span with a two-man advantage.
Nichols took a 1-0 lead just 33 seconds into the second period when Andrew Lepore slipped the puck under the goalie for his fifth of the season. But the lead was short-lived as St. Francis answered 51 seconds later on a power play when Chris Barrea tipped in a shot from the point on assists from English and Scarsella.
Later in the period, Scarsella scored the go-ahead goal on a power play when he put away a rebound from the weak side for a 2-1 lead.
"English had it on the left side of the boards near the net," said Scarsella. "He got hit actually and I kind of slid it under the Nichols' kid's legs and I took it out, open net, hit the crossbar and in, I guess."
Scarsella gave his team a 3-1 advantage, scoring his 21st goal of the season from English and Barrea. English was flying down the wing with the puck and dropped it back to Scarsella who beat the goalie over his left shoulder.
"That line with Mackey, Scarsella and English, they complement each other well," said St. Francis Prep coach John Bowers. "It's a pretty potent line to have to go against."
While the second period belonged to St. Francis, Nichols battled back in the third, scoring twice and outshooting St. Francis, 11-4. Joe Livsey brought his team within 3-2 when he scored his third goal off a rebound on a shot taken by defenseman William Gurney.
But the St. Francis power play came to the rescue again when Mackey scored his 10th of the season from right in front of the net to make it 4-2.
Nichols made it a one-goal game when Ryan Carney scored on a nice backhand-er from Tyler Tokarczyk and Ryan McNamara.
The win was 13th in the last 14 games for St. Francis (16-2-2).