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Is a hat trick still a hat trick if no hats are actually thrown onto the ice?
The answer is probably open to interpretation, but Providence junior forward Rich Yusa doesn’t care. His three goals on Thursday at The Edge ice arena led the No.6 Celtics to a narrow 4-2 win against No.7 Naperville North, which qualified Providence for Friday’s quarterfinal round of the 19th Annual Holiday Hockey Classic.
The Celtics (28-6-3) still had a Glenn Hall Division game left against No.2 Glenbrook North on Thursday night, but it a formality game to decide the pool champion after both teams clinched the top two automatic-qualifier spots earlier.
“I’ve actually had a couple of (hat tricks) this year, but it’s always good to have a big game and help your team out – especially in a tournament like this,” said Yusa, who scored twice in the first half and once in the second for the eventual game-winning tally. “The past couple of years we’ve been rebuilding our program, so it’s good to know we’ve secured our spot (in the quarterfinals) and we’re just looking forward to playing on Friday.”
It was just the fourth game back for Yusa after a shoulder injury sidelined him for a month. Celtics coach Nick Iaciancio would like to get five other injured players back too, but will settle for Yusa right now.
“It’s nice to have him back,” Iaciancio said. “When he went out, I think he was our leading scorer. To get someone like that back now … I know it’s only high school hockey, but it’s almost like making a trade mid-season.”
Naperville North (21-10-1) got its goals from Sean McDonnell and co-captain Paul Mascitti. McDonnell scored shorthanded late in the first to make it 2-1 Providence, while Mascitti added his goal during a 5-on-3 to make it 3-2 Celtics with 15:16 left in the second. The Huskies also got a late power play that produced several good scoring chances, but Providence goalie Justin Salazar came up big.
Matt Iaciancio then sealed the win by scoring into an empty net from center ice with 52.7 seconds left.