Wednesday, March 27, 2013
New England Roundup: Rhode Island
By Mike Scandura
The Rhode Island Interscholastic League has held boys’ hockey state tournaments since 1933. From that year until the present, one school has dominated regardless of division alignments.
This season, the RIIL implemented a Super Four championship which involved the top four teams in the state based on a power-point system. New format or not, the final result was the same: Mount St. Charles emerged with its fifth state championship in the last six years; its 31st in the last 36 years; and its seemingly-incredible 43rd in RIIL history.
What made Mount’s conquest this season even more impressive was the fact that, in its best-of-three series with La Salle, the two games coach Bill Belisle’s team needed to annex another title weren’t even close.
Mount blew out the Rams, 7-0, in Game 1 and closed the deal with a 5-2 victory in Game 2.
The Mounties led 2-0 after one period in Game 1 only because of stellar goaltending by Tyler Walsh, who stopped 18 of 20 shots.
Walsh made 22 more saves in a scoreless second period. But in the third the Mount erupted for five goals – the first a power-play score by Dan Glod (his second of the game).
After that, it was all downhill for Mount as Brian Belisle (the coach’s grandson), scored to make it 4-0.
In the end, Mount outshot La Salle by a whopping 67-24 margin.
Mount only led 1-0 after the first period of Game 2 on a goal by Patrick Holmes. But Devin Votta’s second-period goal made it 2-0 and Glod scored twice in the third period which ended any suspense.
Glod, a senior forward, was voted the Super Four MVP after scoring three goals in two games.
EAGLES DEFY ODDS Barrington finished a lackluster Division I regular-season record of 3-14-1.
But just like Superman stepping into a telephone booth and emerging as the antithesis to Clark Kent, the Eagles took flight and captured the Division I Tournament by beating Burrillville, two games to one, in the best-of-three series.
Truth be told, eight of Barrington’s regular-season losses were at the hands of the Super Four Tournament teams. But in tournament play, the Eagles were 4-1 and captured the school’s first boys’ hockey title in 18 years (Barrington won the Division II title in 1995).
Barrington set off a wild celebration after blanking the Broncos, 2-0 in Game 3, due in large part to tournament MVP Andrew Galbraith.
A senior goaltender, Galbraith stopped a hefty 52 shots after stopping 28 in a 1-0 victory in Game 1.
Barrington scored the only goal Galbraith would need barely four minutes into the first period on a shot by Brett Fay.
Mike Lombardi’s power-play goal early in the second period provided an insurance goal. Lombardi, a freshman, scored the only goal in Game 1 as the Eagles prevailed, 1-0. But the Broncos kicked up their heels in Game 12 and clipped the Eagles, 7-2, behind a hat trick by Chad Stone.
LIONS PERFECT With the exception of a tie, Lincoln completed a spectacular 23-0-1 season by sweeping the best-of-three Division II championship series against Prout by scores of 3-2 in each game – the second in overtime.
The title was the first for the Lions since the 1984-85 season.
With Game 2 tied 2-2 in OT, Griffin Hevey’s shot from the blue line at 3:36 eluded Crusader goalie Austin Gemma. In Gemma’s defense, Lincoln caught Prout during a line change.
Previously, Hevey scored an overtime goal against East Greenwich which clinched the quarterfinal series.
Lincoln sophomore goalie, Chris Leclaire, stopped 34 shots to earn the victory while Lincoln’s other goals were scored by Ryan Krohto and Jerzy Polak – the latter during a power play.
Leclaire was solid in Game 1 as he turned aside 30 shots and kept Lincoln’s deficit at 1-0 until late in the second period when Krohto scored twice in a span of 3:20.
KNIGHTS SPEAR TIGERS Three years ago, West Warwick was dropping hockey due to a lack of participation.
So, West Warwick and Exeter/West Greenwich formed a co-op team and in March it did something that was totally unimaginable: win a state title.
West Warwick/EWG swept Tolman by scores of 5-2 and 5-1 to annex the Division III title and erase the sting of a 5-11-0 record the team posted last season.
In addition, it enabled coach Pete Ethier’s team to finish with a 20-0-0 record.
The Wizards/Scarlet Knights scored a hefty 142 goals during 16 regular-season games. And it was more of the same against Tolman, which will be dropping hockey (does this sound familiar?) due to a lack of boys willing and able to play hockey.
Troy Sankey scored the Wizards/Scarlet Knights’ first two goals and Anthony Ventura buried a rebound early in the third period for what proved to be the game-winner.
The victors also boasted the tournament’s MVP in Antonio Rei, who scored the game’s final goal.
Sankey came up big in Game 1 when he scored a power-play goal in the first period to tie the score at 1-1. Ventrua followed suit, and after Tolman’s Chris Baldwin tied it, Rei scored the eventual game-winner at 7:47 of the third.
Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y, he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.