Boston High School: Bryce Dolan

Hendricken (R.I.) primed for another shot at title

January, 2, 2015
Jan 2
Hendricken High skated out of Adelard Arena after the 19th annual Mount St. Charles Holiday Faceoff Tournament with two victories (5-1 over Franklin and 3-0 over St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute from Buffalo, N.Y.) sandwiched around a 3-2 overtime loss to Fairfield (Conn.) Prep.

Even though the Hawks (6-2-0 overall) just missed advancing to the finals, coach Jim Creamer was impressed with his team’s performance.

“It probably was more on a team basis,” Creamer said while discussing the positives he took from Hendricken’s play. “We saw it early on and then, over three days, our scoring was really balanced. We had three lines contribute to our scoring every day. To see it continue was a good sign. And our defense did a nice job in the tourney. I didn’t anticipate that early in the year.

“Both of our goaltenders - Matt Kenneally (.916 save percentage) and Cam Doomany (.915 save percentage) - played well. We did lose a tough game to Fairfield Prep. We outshot them two to one. But I liked the way we played overall in three games. It was a positive weekend for us.”

The key now for the Hawks is to continue that “positive” play when they resume action in the State Championship Division in a seemingly endless pursuit of perennial state champion Mount St. Charles, which has captured a mind-boggling 44 state championships.

Hendricken already has one victory over the Mount, 5-3, on Dec. 19.

“We talked about it early in the season with a new group of kids,” said Creamer. “Is (last season’s two-games-to-one loss to Mount in the finals) motivation? Maybe it is. Anytime we play them there’s always extra motivation. They’re an outstanding opponent.

“The best part about Mount is they bring out the best from their opponents. When we play them, we play hard.”

In retrospect, the Hawks always have “played hard” since Creamer (a Hendricken alumnus) became head coach prior to the 2001-02 season.

“Our coaching staff has been stable,” Creamer said while noting reasons for Hendricken’s success. “For the most part, we’ve kept kids in the program (more on this later). Over 11 years the consistency and stability of the program have been our strengths.

"We’re fortunate that we’ve had boys who are good students and good athletes and that we’ve had great kids. That’s been a key.”

The story within the story is that during Creamer’s tenure, Hendricken has captured the only state hockey championships in school history (2006, 2007 and 2011). Winning that first state title was the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest.

“It’s always difficult to win it but I thought the first one might have been the most difficult of all because of the nature of things,” said Creamer. “The other two were equally as difficult. But every year it’s a different challenge. You have a different group of kids but the first one might have been the most difficult of all.

“We were trying to get the monkey off our backs. Your opponents always are difficult but you get that emotional aspect that it never had been done. It weighed heavily on everyone. Everybody had been waiting for that first (state championship).”

Hendricken, which always has been a defensive-minded team under Creamer’s guidance (Creamer: “If you take care of your own end and keep the number of shots low, I’m pretty comfortable playing good defense.”), has been receiving solid performances from underclassmen.

“I wouldn’t say anybody’s exceeded expectations,” he said. “As the year goes on, it’s always good to see the freshmen and sophomores develop. The juniors and seniors already have made their mark.

“We have a nice group of sophomores. They have to contribute a lot. For the younger guys, from a coaching standpoint, it’s good to watch them develop – especially (forwards) Pat Creamer (4-1-5), Ryan King (5-3-8), Sam Milnes (0-3-3) and (defenseman) Bryce Dolan (2-4-6).”

Another reason why the Hawks have reached the state finals eight times during Creamer’s tenure is the fact Hendricken hasn’t lost an overwhelming number of boys to junior hockey plus out-of-state prep schools.

“It’s hasn’t been an exodus,” said Creamer. “It’s been one boy here and one there. In the last two years, two boys have left. For some kids, it’s the right decision. Others decide to stay and have success.

“We offer a pretty good product. We play a competitive schedule (i.e. non-league games versus out-of-state teams). We have an outstanding school. You combine everything and, at the end of the day, we’ve been fortunate that kids have stayed, put in their time and made an investment into the school.”

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.

Hendricken emerges from pack at MSC Face-Off

January, 2, 2014
Without question Mount St. Charles, La Salle Academy and Hendricken have fielded the state’s dominant boys’ hockey teams for decades. But for the most part, the only time each is under the same roof at the same time is when they play in the annual Mount St. Charles Holiday Face-Off Tournament at Adelard Arena along with five top teams from five different states.

Rhode IslandNot surprisingly, the fact Hendricken claimed the championship with a 3-0 record may indicate the Hawks could be the team to beat not only for the Division I regular-season championship but also for the tournament title.

In a span of 72 hours last weekend, the Hawks nipped Connecticut’s Fairfield Prep, 4-3; beat division rival La Salle, 6-3; and held off New York’s St. Joseph Collegiate, 4-3.

“It’s good to win a championship,” said Hawks coach Jim Creamer. “It’s never easy to win a championship – one reason being we only play two each season, this tournament at the Mount and then the league tourney. Just to win one is a major accomplishment.”

Tournament MVP Andy Fera scored twice in the finals and was voted to the All-Tournament Team along with fellow Hawks Jamie Armstrong (forward), Matt Kenneally (goalie) and Bryce Dolan (defenseman).

Fera’s second goal gave Hendricken a 4-2 lead and, obviously, proved to be the game-winner.

“He’s our go-to guy … our ‘Mr. Consistent,’” said Creamer. “You get the same thing out of Andrew all the time and that’s the best part about him. To say that fourth goal was big would be an understatement.”

It also would be an understatement to say that beating three quality teams will aid the Hawks in their pursuit of the state championship they last won in 2012.

“We had three good games with some highs and some lows,” said Creamer. “But over the course of those three days, we really did a good job. We got better as a team. We were put in some tough spots but we’re thrilled with (the championship).

“It was a grind to get through this tournament when you have teams like Fairfield, St. Joseph’s, La Salle and Mount. Really, it was a daunting task for our guys.”

Mount implodes: In baseball, batting .333 is excellent.

But in a three-game hockey tournament, batting .333 (i.e. one win and two losses) isn’t anything to brag about especially if you’re Mount St. Charles which has captured a mind-boggling 43 state championships.

The fact Mount was blanked, 4-0, by Fairfield Prep in the third game did little for coach Dave Belisle’s peace of mind.

In fact, Belisle kept the door to the Mount’s locker room closed for a good half-hour while he “addressed” his players about their lackluster performance in the tournament.

“We only played two-and-a-half good periods,” Belisle said of Mount’s loss to Fairfield. “That’s the disappointing part. When you only play two-plus periods against a good team like that, you’re not going to get it done.

“I’ve been preaching it for a long time, that you have to play three full periods of hockey. Even in our division (Division I-Cimini), we’ve only played hard for two periods in the games we’ve won.”

In retrospect, the Jesuits could have won by more than 4-0 if goalie Brian Larence had not made 47 saves.

“I know Brian wouldn’t want me to say he played a good game because we lost 4-0,” said Belisle. “He’d want me to say he didn’t get it done in the third period.

“Overall, we’ve had our fair share of injuries and we’re young. We have eight freshmen on our roster. But this is about giving the effort for 45 minutes – from the opening faceoff until the final buzzer.”

Smooth sailing for Clippers: Cumberland last won the Division II state championship at the end of the 2007-08 season. But Cumberland delivered the proverbial message by upsetting Division I foe Barrington, 3-2, in the opening round of the Burrillville Winter Classic on Monday.

If the Clippers had beaten a Division III team, the victory would have been expected. But to beat a Division I team is a completely different story.

“Barrington plays in the state’s top division,” said Cumberland coach Mark Andreozzi. “For us to skate with Barrington and play well and get the win is definitely a feather in our caps.

“It was good to gain confidence … to know we could go out and play at their level.”

The story within the story was the fact Andreozzi played all three of his goaltenders en route to his team’s upping its overall record to 5-0-0. Leo Lake, Zack Kay and Liam Curren combined for a modest total of eight saves.

“I wanted to play all three because they work hard in practice and really could benefit from the experience of playing against a top team like Barrington,” said Andreozzi. “Granted, it was a non-league game. But it’s just as important as the ones we play in our division (II-North).”

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.