Drama has been a constant in the state championship hockey series between Bishop Hendricken and Mount St. Charles, and through two games the Hawks have seen life at both ends of the spectrum.
In Friday’s game one, the Hawks got three goals in less than a minute late in the third period to turn a one-goal deficit into a 5-2 victory. The next night, Hendricken led 3-1 with eight minutes to play only to have Mount tie the game with just under three minutes remaining and then get a goal from Keith Phaneuf in the final minute of the first overtime period for a dramatic 4-3 Mounties victory.
With the best-of-three series tied at a game apiece, the title will be decided by a third game for the ninth time in the 19 state championship meetings between the two teams.
Game three was scheduled for Monday night, with the results unavailable at press time. Coverage of the game will be available online Tuesday at www.warwickonline.com and in Thursday’s Warwick Beacon.
“It’s sort of what we expected,” said Hendricken head coach Jim Creamer after game two. “With the exception of that minute last night where we scored three, every game we’ve played with them has been a battle. I give them all the credit in the world. They did a great job in the third period. And we weren’t bad – they were just extra good.”
The series looked like it was coming to a close on Saturday night, with Hendricken holding play through most of the first two periods. Mount struck first with a goal just over eight minutes into the game off the stick of Justin D’Abrosca, but the Hawks responded with two goals late in the period.
First, Liam Watkinson corralled a bouncing puck near Mount goalie Brian Larence and extended it around Larence to the right, where Watkinson was able to flip it into the goal to tie the score. Then with 55 seconds to play in the period, Tucker Alberigo took a slap shot from just inside the blue line on the left with traffic in front of Larence, and the puck went through everything into the right side for a 2-1 lead.
The Hawks looked firmly in control. After a second-period where neither team converted, Hendricken made it 3-1 just over five minutes into the third period. Andrew Fera tried to force the puck past Larence on the right post, and it popped out to the left side where Pat Creamer was waiting. He swept it into the goal, giving Hendricken a two-goal advantage.
It seemed like a state championship was just minutes away, but the Mounties had a final charge left in them.
“It wasn’t like we didn’t show up,” Jim Creamer said. “We did everything we could. It just didn’t go our way. That was it.”
With 7:59 to play, Mount won a faceoff to the right of Hendricken goalie Matt Kenneally, and the puck went up to Marc Squizzero at the point. He fired a slap shot that deflected off a Hendricken player and found the net, making it 3-2.
Then, with 2:57 to play, Tim Casilli took a hard wrist shot from just outside the left circle that beat Kenneally in the top corner, tying the score at three.
“We don’t have a kid out there that didn’t do the right thing,” Creamer said. “They just made a couple good plays and the puck went in. We battled extremely hard. There’s nothing more.”
That sent the game into overtime, where Hendricken again held play. Alberigo had one of the best chances with a hard slap shot two minutes in that Larence kicked aside, and Pat Creamer fired a shot that hit Larence in the face mask after a faceoff win.
Yet it was Mount that broke the deadlock. With 31.2 seconds left in the first overtime, the Mounties dug the puck out of the right corner and threw a pass to Phaneuf in the middle. He ripped a hard slap shot that ended up behind Kenneally for the game-winner.
“I thought we had some great shots and some good chances,” Jim Creamer said. “But they just didn’t go in. We put enough pucks at the net. I was pretty pleased with the overtime other than the result.”
The loss was a tough pill to swallow for the Hawks, but they could take some solace in their game one victory.
Trailing 2-1 after Mount got a tie-breaking goal from Thomas Crudele early in the third period, Hendricken seemed destined for a loss until it suddenly caught fire at the perfect time.
With 3:46 to play, the puck bounced past a Mount defender in the neutral zone and Reilly Miller corralled it and sped up the right side. He skated hard to Larence and then passed it across to the left, where Brandon Mitchell one-timed it in to tie the score.
“He plays on our second power play and you could see that he had some legs to him,” Creamer said of Mitchell. “I threw him up there on the second line and Reilly Miller – he had a great game before that – he drove down the right side, made a great pass and Brandon was right where he needed to be.”
Just 23 seconds later, the Mount defense misplayed the puck on a clearing attempt and it ended up loose in front of Larence. He extended way out to try to knock it away, but Hendricken’s Jonathan Finelli got there first and was able to push it into the open right side of the net for a 3-2 lead. Watkinson was credited with an assist.
“We follow that up with three seniors who have been really effective all year,” Creamer said. “They’re not the prettiest three guys in the whole world, and they got a traditional ugly goal. It was a game-winner at that point.”
Still not finished with their scoring barrage, the Hawks got some breathing room just 32 seconds after that, as Jamie Armstrong carried the puck across the blue line, saw some space in front of him and let a slap shot fly from just behind the left circle that soared above Larence’s right arm into the goal. Fera and Alberigo assisted.
Armstrong also added an empty-net goal with 41 seconds to play. Pat Creamer and Mitchell assisted.
“It was exciting,” Jim Creamer said. “I give Mount a lot of credit. They gave us everything we could handle. To our credit, we handled it. We didn’t play great, but we handled it. We survived it.”
Fera scored Hendricken’s other goal in that game, while D’Abrosca scored Mount’s first goal.
Now one game decides the state championship, as Hendricken seeks its first state title since 2012. Mount is looking for its sixth title in seven years.
“We’ve played them 19 times and I bet you we’re in double digits the times it’s gone to three games,” Creamer said. “We’re just a part of history at this point.”