With its veterans, depth and young talent, the Bishop Hendricken hockey team appears poised to emerge as the Division I favorite as the season unfolds. The Hawks stopped short of cementing that label in Friday’s season opener, but they at least got out to a good start – and got a leg up on their chief rival.
Andrew Fera had a goal and an assist and Patrick Creamer’s third period goal proved to be the difference as the Hawks beat Mount St. Charles 2-1 at Adelard Arena in the opener for both teams.
“It wasn’t the prettiest game in the world, but we found a way to win,” said Hendricken head coach Jim Creamer. “It’s a very difficult place to play, so in that sense, we’ll certainly take it.”
The Hawks and Mounties have won the last eight state championships, so a match-up in the opener on Mount’s storied ice was about as dynamic a beginning as the hockey season could get. Hendricken’s veterans – who didn’t get a shot at Mount in the playoffs last year thanks to a semifinal loss to La Salle – were eager to get back at it.
“I think it’s great,” Creamer said. “I think it’s the best place to play and a good environment to start in. The kids were excited to come up here and play. In a lot of respects, it’s difficult, but it’s also a good place to start the season.”
And the Hawks didn’t waste any time. Just 2:23 into the first period, Fera got loose on a breakaway, hit the post but then knocked in the rebound for the 1-0 Hendricken lead.
“That’s a great way to start,” Creamer said.
The lead didn’t last long, though. With 7:15 left in the first period, Hendricken’s Jamie Armstrong picked up a tripping penalty. Less than 30 seconds later, the Mounties capitalized on a goal by Devin Votta, with an assist to Keith Phaneuf.
The first period ended with the score knotted at 1-1, but the Mounties held a 16-11 edge in shots on goal. Thanks to their rotation of six defensemen and the work of first-year starter Matt Kenneally in net, the Hawks had held tough.
“I thought Matt Kenneally did a very nice job in net for us,” Creamer said. “First varsity action for him.”
The Hawks managed to kill off two penalties in the second period and out-shot the Mounties 12-11 but couldn’t jump back in front. In the third, though, they broke through. With 12:04 left, Fera slipped a break-out pass to Patrick Creamer, who had a step on the defense. He finished the job with a shot past goalie Brian Larence, giving the Hawks the 2-1 lead. A freshman, Creamer is the head coach’s son and the younger brother of former Hawks star Matt Creamer.
Armed with the lead, the Hawks held on tight. Mount’s Patrick Holmes hit the post on a shot from the right side less than a minute after the goal, but the Mounties didn’t get many clean looks. They pulled Larence with 56 seconds left and made a push on a scramble in front of the net in the final seconds, but couldn’t punch in a shot.
“I thought we started to build a little bit in the second period and then in the third, we really got a good push,” Jim Creamer said. “We did a nice job.”
Kenneally finished with 41 saves for the Hawks. Larence saved 40 for the Mounties.
The Hawks also played Saturday and picked up a 6-0 victory over Cranston West. Armstrong had two goals and two assists, with Tucker Alberigo, Bryce Dolan, Joshua Olson and Samuel Milnes chipping in one goal each. Junior Christian Maselli, another first-time starter, made 19 saves on his way to the shut-out.
All in all, it was a solid opening weekend for the Hawks, especially with the win over Mount.
“I just told them, ‘In the last 30 years, times we’ve won up here are not that common. It’s not an easy feat,’” Creamer said. “The veteran guys know that and they did a good job.”