Inexperience is the name of the game for the Warwick Vets hockey team, but that doesn’t mean the ’Canes aren’t capable of holding their own in Division III.
On Friday, they lost 5-0 to East Providence at Dennis Lynch Arena. While the score indicates a blowout, Vets was competitive every step of the way. It dropped to 1-6 with the loss, yet the complaints are few and far between.
“As this season goes on you will see them getting better and better every single game,” Vets head coach Mike Boyajian said. “They’re getting more comfortable out there, they know what they can do and they’re starting to believe more in themselves.”
The Townies, who improved to 6-2, out-shot Vets 27 to 16, though the shots on goal were even at five apiece in a scoreless third period.
It’s just about consistency. The ’Canes came out of the gate slow, giving up a goal to East Providence’s Tyler Maxwell only 14 seconds into the game.
From there, they played well in spurts, allowing another goal to Joshua Letendre five minutes later but generating plenty of chances of their own.
Tyler DiPetrillo got loose on the left side about a minute after the second goal, but couldn’t get much on a shot. Freshman Gregory Fontaine helped generate a few more chances, and senior defenseman Kyle Veyera nearly scored short-handed on a breakaway, only to be denied by East Providence goalie Mark LaValley.
“I can’t complain about the effort,” Boyajian said. “I think they played well overall. We’ve just got to put it together for 36 straight minutes.”
Vets’ downfall, though, came late in the second period, with the score still 2-0. After holding play for a good portion of the period, Vets gave up a goal to East Providence’s Kyle Marquis on a play in which he skated past two Vets players and buried a shot in the top-right corner over the glove of goaltender Colby Howard.
That made it 3-0, but the Townies weren’t done. With 3:21 to play in the period, Brynne Costa scored on a one-timer after Marquis slipped a perfect pass through the crease to her waiting stick.
“Honestly, if we put together 36 minutes we win this game,” Boyajian said. “Those lapses from the lack of experience are what hurts us.”
Then, just over a minute later, Andrew Gordon scored, making it 5-0. The three goals in three minutes and 17 seconds essentially put the game out of reach.
“You could tell that it took a little bit out of the guys after all that,” Boyajian said. “Then they went right down and scored again. But it’s inexperience. Young team, they’re getting their game experience as the season goes on.”
The ’Canes came out and held their own in the third period but couldn’t get a puck past LaValley. Howard made 17 saves, while Michael Palombo played the third period for Vets and stopped all five shots he saw.
The loss was Vets’ fourth straight after a 3-2 win over Woonsocket on Dec. 13. In that game – which is currently the ’Canes’ only victory – Fontaine scored twice, while Veyera added a goal and an assist. Howard stopped 21 of 23 shots in goal.
“We got some great goaltending that game, the young guys played really well,” Boyajian said. “That was a game where everything just seemed to click.”
Vets will look for more games like that in the future. It still has 11 league games left on the schedule, beginning with a game against the Scituate-Tolman co-op team on Monday at 1:45 p.m. at Thayer Arena.
Prior to that, Vets will take on Pilgrim on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. in the Andrew J. Gauthier Hockey Festival, also at Thayer.
“We’ve got Woonsocket two more times, Ponaganset two more times, (East Providence) two more times,” Boyajian said. “They know what to expect now going into it. I think that’s a part of it, knowing who we’re facing and what type of tendencies these guys have.”