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Rhode Island D3 Finals: Pilgrim takes home the championship

Twenty-eight years late, Pilgrim has its next state champion boys hockey team.

The Division 3 school dominated in its best-of-three championship series against West Warwick/Exeter/West Greenwich, putting the finishing touches on the sweep Saturday with a 7-0 victory in Game 2 at Meehan Auditorium. It came after the Patriots won the series opener, 5-1.

Pilgrim last won a state title in 1990. This year’s team went 13-4-1 in the regular season and more than proved their worth in the postseason without a loss in four games.

Mike Sollenberger (two), AJ Sherlock, Tyler Balutowski, James Cook and Matt Pacheco (two) had the goals for the champions in the final game.

In the first game Friday, Jack Clements was the hero with two goals and three assists. He was named tournament MVP.

Hockey Night in Boston caught up with Pilgrim coach Mike Boyajian Jr. on this historic season:

What was the difference for you guys in the finals? 12-1 outscoring them is insane. “I think what made the difference in the finals was our ability to roll our lines. Our top six forwards all contributed on both nights, and were able to shut down their top line. We were able to get our checking line out there, and they did their job as well. All around great effort from all our forwards in this series.”

Who were the key parts of the offense in the playoff run? “Jack Clements led the way for us. He had nine goals in two games (four in the first, five in the second) in the Mt. Hope series. He had seven points in the finals, including two goals in Game 1, earning him MVP of the title series. Mikey Sollenberger, Matt Pacheco, AJ Sherlock and Collin Driscoll all had multi-point games in the finals as well. Just a great job stepping up by our scorers down the stretch.”

And defense and goalie was obviously huge, too. “Our defense really tightened up in the finals against WW/EWG. Andrew Canning, James Cook, Chris Quirk and Will Morrisette all played solid in the series. Ty Balotowski had his best game of his career to close the series, and even scored his first goal. When tested, Kyle Dimascio (goalie) stood his ground. He managed to play aggressive and controlled throughout the series.”

How cool is it to bring a title to this school for the first time in almost 30 years? “It feels awesome to bring a state title home to Thayer Arena. We told the kids, winning a title was special not to just the team, but past athletes from Pilgrim and Warwick Vets as well. Every time they walk into Thayer, they can now look up at their banner and be reminded of all the hard work, and what they did as a team to accomplish their ultimate goal.”

What can you say about your senior class as a whole? “The seniors were deserving of this title to say the least. They went through a lot with the consolidation. Two of our five seniors came from my old program at the now defunct Warwick Vets High. And their dedication and leadership is partly why we were the last team standing. Mike Sollenberger, Andrew Canning, Derek Plowman, Ty Balotowski and Kyle Dimascio all had a hand in us winning it all. They will be missed by both the coaches and their teammates. We wish the best of luck to them.”

Dom Nicastro

Dom Nicastro

Dom Nicastro is a veteran sportswriter and journalist whose credits include the Gloucester Daily Times, Salem News, Lawrence Eagle-Tribune and Boston Magazine. This is his third season working for Hockey Night in Boston Magazine. He covers boys Eastern Mass. Division 3 and Rhode Island. He can be reached via email at [email protected]
Dom Nicastro
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