The Warwick girls’ hockey team has turned some heads in its last two games. The Lady Titans lost 2-1 in overtime to first-place La Salle on Feb. 3 and did the same thing against second-place Mount St. Charles on Monday. With those performances, the Titans have served notice that they plan to be a player in the postseason.
But the Titans also aren’t satisfied.
“Competing against Mount is amazing,” said senior goaltender Kayleen Murphy. “They’re one of the teams that would come in time and time again and destroy us 8-1, 10-1. It feels great going to overtime with them, but we do want to beat them. As a team, we want to win.”
The losses to La Salle and Mount dropped the Titans to 7-7. They had won three straight games before that, a strong response after a three-game skid.
In general, things are moving in the right direction.
“We hit a speed bump in the middle of the season with some injuries and illness,” said head coach Dave Tibbetts. “Now we feel like we’re starting to get where we need to be. We’re a little disappointed we haven’t been able to knock off somebody above us, but we’re getting closer and closer each time.”
And the Titans got very close on Monday, despite a slow start. Mount outshot Warwick 13-3 in the first period. Murphy made sure the game didn’t get out of hand with several big saves, but the Mounties did break through with a short-handed goal at the 2:52 mark for the 1-0 lead.
From there, the Titans found their footing, and though they couldn’t capitalize on two second-period power plays, they started to turn the game around. Warwick outshot Mount 10-5 in the second period.
In the third, the Titans broke through. With 7:57 left, Madison Balutowski blasted through the neutral zone and streaked past a defender on the left wing. She put a shot on net that goalie Arianna Tourtellot saved, but Kelsey Holmes was there to punch in the rebound for the tying score. Casey McCormick also assisted on the goal.
“We didn’t get it going until the second period, and then we kept shooting high,” Tibbetts said. “We finally started shooting low and we were able to get the rebound in.”
The Titans dominated the rest of the third period, outshooting the Mounties 8-2, but they couldn’t get the lead. Tourtellot saved a slap shot from Savannah Hersey with 2:27 left. On the ensuing faceoff, Hersey got a good look from the left circle, but Tourtellot made a kick save.
With a minute left, McCormick’s shot from the point was turned away. Off the rebound, Abby Ellis got a perfect chance in the slot, but Tourtellot deflected the puck over the cross bar.
In the final seconds of the period, Warwick was whistled for a penalty, which carried into the five-minute overtime. The Titans managed to kill it off, but couldn’t get themselves back in gear. With 1:40 left, Mount’s Elisabeth Berard corralled a deflected shot on the left post and punched in the game-winner.
The Titans left the ice with a familiar feeling.
“We’re disappointed because we’ve really been gunning to beat the teams above us,” Tibbetts said. “We just had the same game with La Salle last week. We went to overtime against them.”
Despite coming up empty in the overtime games, the Titans feel like they’re on the right path.
“We’ve gotten better,” Holmes said. “I think we’re working harder and we’re doing a better job as a team, setting up plays.”
The goal is to get over the hump sooner rather than later.
“Just keep working hard,” Balutowski said. “Just keep pushing.”
The Titans will be back in action Saturday when they play the Smithfield/North Smithfield co-op team at 6 p.m. at Thayer Arena. They’ll play Burrillville/Ponaganset on Monday at 9:30 p.m. at the Cranston Rink.
After that, the Titans will have just one league game left – one final shot at Mount St. Charles on Feb. 23 at Thayer Arena. That game is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.
“We feel we can match up with anybody at this point,” Tibbetts said. “Hopefully, we’ll get better the last couple of weeks of the season and go strong into the playoffs.”