With a minute left in the second period of Saturday’s game, the Pilgrim hockey team took a 3-2 lead over PCD/St. Ray’s/Wheeler with a breakaway goal by Susie Cavanagh.
Unfortunately for the Pats, it wasn’t that goal that set the course for the rest of the game. Soon after Cavanagh’s goal, Pilgrim picked up a penalty and started the third period short-handed. The Pats were whistled for two more penalties later in the third, and PCD/St. Ray’s/Wheeler took advantage with a power-play goal to tie the game. PCD/St. Ray’s/Wheeler then got a goal from Mark Carrara in overtime to win 4-3.
“We started the third period killing a penalty and took two more in the third period,” said Pilgrim head coach Dave Tober. “You can’t beat a pretty good team playing six minutes of short-handed hockey. They’ve got a pretty good power play, and ultimately, they’re going to pop one.”
The result was a frustrating loss for the Pats, who dropped to 5-2-1. They’re still firmly in second place in Division II-North – three points ahead of Toll Gate – but head coach Dave Tober wants to see changes.
“We’re not playing well enough right now,” Tober said. “We’ll beat the teams that we have much more skill than. But unless we play our system, we’re not going to beat good teams yet. This is a good team, Toll Gate’s a good team, Coventry’s a good team, Cumberland’s a good team. So the teams we’re battling for playoff spots, we can’t beat unless we play our system.”
The Pats fell behind 1-0 less than three minutes into Saturday’s game, but they answered with a goal by Nick McGuirl. Then, 2:44 into the second period they jumped in front 2-1 on a goal by Cody Weaver. McGuirl and Dylan LeGarie assisted.
The back-and-forth continued, though, as PCD/St. Ray’s/Wheeler tied it less than two minutes later on a Nathan Duffy goal.
Cavanagh put the Pats back in front with a minute to go in the third, but a crosschecking penalty on McGuirl left Pilgrim in a tough spot as it got set for the third.
Pilgrim managed to kill off that first penalty – and a second – but when Corey Casale went to the box with 6:52 left, the jig was up. PCD/St. Ray’s/Wheeler got a goal from Ben Mello to tie the game at 3-3.
Pilgrim had a handful of chances to jump back in front late in the third period but couldn’t convert. Then with just 58 seconds left in overtime, Carrara netted the game-winner when he got loose in front of the net and punched in a shot.
“We puck-watched, that’s exactly what I saw,” Tober said. “They came down the ice and we have five guys watching the puck carrier. Nobody picked up two guys in front of the net. You get two cracks at it, you’re going to pop it in. It’s a clear-cut example of not playing the system. You can’t puck watch and expect to play well in your own zone.”
The loss was only the second of the season for the Pats, and both have come by one-goal margins. That success on the scoreboard has come despite the fact that the team isn’t playing its best hockey.
“Teams that win championships are teams that all buy into a system, no matter what level it is,” Tober said. “Unless we do that, then we can’t put ourselves in that category yet. That’s exactly what I told them. Until we buy into everybody playing the game the way we need to play it, we’re not going to have success beyond the end of February into March. That’s what it has to be – buy into the system, play it well and we’ll win. Because we’re good enough to do that.”
Pilgrim notched a 5-3 victory over North Smithfield a night before the loss to PCD/St. Ray’s/Wheeler. Weaver and LeGarie each had two goals, while McGuirl netted a goal and four assists.
The Pats will return to the ice this weekend for a busy slate of games. They’ll play Toll Gate Friday at 8 p.m. at Thayer Arena before facing Prout on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. in the Andrew J. Gauthier Hockey Festival. The Pats also have a rematch with PCD/St. Ray’s/Wheeler scheduled for Monday at 3 p.m.