Just one weekend remains in the 2021-2022 Rhode Island high school hockey season.
One state champion has already been crowned, the Division 1 final series is set and the Division 3 state championship comes down to a decisive Game 3 on Tuesday night. Here’s everything you need to know about a stunning weekend to open up March…
All season long, LaSalle had set the pace in Division 1. Bishop Hendricken, East Greenwich and Moses Brown were really the only teams to hang around with the perennial powerhouse, but it seemed as if the Rams were destined for a championship this season. After going unbeaten in league play, it was going to take a remarkable effort for Hendricken to move on to the state championship series.
That’s exactly what BH got in a stunning sweep.
In Game 1, Hendricken got goals from Drew Gayman, Aidan Pennacchini and John LaRose, assists from Ryan Staples (2) and Colton Whitfield and a 25-save performance out of Drew Carr to grab the 1-0 lead.
Gayman remained hot and scored the only goal in Game 2 (assists going to Matt Moretti and Whittfield) and Carr shut out the Rams with 20 saves, sending the boys in green, gold and white to the finals, setting up a date with East Greenwhich
“We had a complete team effort using all four lines,” said head coach Mike Scosia. “We had contributions from our defensemen and forwards, our third and fourth lines are used for the PK and they were seven-for-eight.”
East Greenwich has been impressive throughout the year and it seemed as if any team was going to beat LaSalle, it was them. EG earned a 2-0 sweep over Moses Brown with victories of 3-0 and 2-1.
Head coach Don Dunwoody called the two-minute stretch in Game 1 where East Greenwich took the lead for good a “two minute tornado” in the second period, scoring three goals. Nick Paskalis had a snipe from the the right corner, picking the top glove corner with the assist going to Cam Gaffney to get things started. A 2-on-1 break (started with a steal in the neutral zone by Gaffney) eventually lead to Gaffney sliding the puck to Paskalis for a wrist shot and he buried it stick side a foot off the ice. The Avengers third goal in the short burst came from Gaffney on a wrist shot from between the circles off of another steal. Cole Barron added 18 saves for the shut out.
EG had 28 shots on goal and “for the most part, controlled the game,” said Dunwoody.
The second period was the money period for EG again in Game 2 as Sonny Arsenault cleaned up a pass by Gaffney from below the goal line to an empty net with an assist to Corey Szabo also for a 1-0 lead. In the third, Gaffney made his presence felt again with a great individual rush up the right boards, Gaffney turned the D and crossed the crease, tucking the puck in on the short side. Colin Walsh and junior Peter Doorley had assists on the play. Moses Brown scored on a power play late in third, but Barron got the win with 16 saves in net.
“Both games were very competitive, said Dunwoody. “MB has a good team, they’re well coached. I think we had a little more depth and that was the difference. Our defense did well clearing the puck and the forwards were able to pressure MB defense. Back-checking was able to prevent MB from setting up in both games. We are looking for a spirited series against Hendricken after going 1-1 against them this year.”
The D1 state championship series is set for March 10-13, with Game 1 and 2 slated for 7 PM at Providence College and a deciding Game 3 (if necessary) on Sunday.
For just the third time in the 20-year history of the program, North Kingstown is state champion.
A 2-0 sweep over Lincoln gave the program its first title since 2010.
“I’m incredibly proud of these boys and the way they carried themselves through the post season,” said first-year head coach Cody Sellers. “As a coach, we constantly harped on fighting complacency and continuing to improve the team and the program.”
Sellers won as a player in 2006-07 and assistant coach Adam Nabb won as a player in 2009-10.
“Alumni involvement and the continued growth of the game of hockey in North Kingstown are top goals of our program,” Sellers noted.
Braeden Perry was one of, if not the biggest reason NK was able to take home the championship. The senior net minder had a 13-save shutout and a 14-save, one-goal performance in both victories.
“He was our backbone throughout the year,” Sellers added. “Braeden led every major goalie category in Division 2 and helped us maintain the lowest goals against by far.”
Senior Assistant Captain Conall Gately was NK’s leading scorer this year and D2’s second overall leading scorer this season. Gately continued to shine in the biggest moments, leading the way with three goals and an assist in the series.
“He was active and dominant in scoring,” Sellers said.
Just as important as the title was the development of some younger players this year for Sellers and his staff. Sophomore Jake Rodger Sophomore (2 goals, including the GWG in Game 2) junior Marcus Macchioni (assist and 9-plus shots in the two games) and junior Will Brew (1 goal in the series) were all big factors, perhaps unexpectedly to a degree.
“They all helped drive the offense and matched the other team’s top competition,” explained Sellers.
2022 is a year no one rooting for or involved with the North Kingstown hockey program will ever forget.
“We went on a 12-game win streak, finishing the season in total with 2 losses. These boys ran with the message and got better every time they stepped on the ice,” Sellers said.
South Kingstown took Game 1 of the D3 championship series 5-1, but Narragansett won Game 2 5-3 to set up the winner-take-all game at Boss Arena on Tuesday night.