Toll Gate has had some rough hockey weekends this year. Relatively speaking, this past weekend was better.
But it wasn’t quite good enough.
The Titans lost 3-1 to PCD/Wheeler/SRA on Friday night and lost 2-1 to Rogers/Tiverton/Rocky Hill on Saturday. There were bright spots in both games, but ultimately, there were two more losses. Toll Gate is now 1-11.
“We have positive things happening, but we’re still not getting over the hump,” said Toll Gate head coach Mike Champagne.
Toll Gate has lost four league games in a row since picking up its only win of the season on Jan. 11 over Johnston/North Providence.
This past weekend’s slate wasn’t as rough-and-tumble as some the Titans have faced this season, but the two co-op squads were formidable enough. PCD/Wheeler/SRA jumped out to a 2-0 lead on the Titans and scored a back-breaking goal with one second left in the second period, after the Titans had cut the lead in half. On Saturday, the Rogers squad – which beat Division II-South leader North Kingstown last week – stretched its win streak to four by holding off a strong effort by the Titans.
“It’s those little things – stops and starts, finding the point man and having confidence to drive to the net,” Champagne said after Friday’s loss. “Obviously, there’s a bit more than that, but if those are the major issues. If we can clean those up, we can have a different outcome.”
Toll Gate ran into trouble early in Friday’s game. PCD’s Mark Carrara scored on a slap shot just 1:30 into the game, with an assist to Jacob Bourski. A similar play unfolded seven minutes later, with Dylan Gastel scoring to make it 2-0.
“It’s things like not playing our positions,” Champagne said. “First two goals were defensemen through the screen. Our wingers were nowhere to be seen because they’re getting sucked into the play and not doing their jobs.”
To their credit, the Titans battled back. With 3:17 left in the first period, PCD picked up a penalty. After a shaky first minute on the power play, the Titans settled in and got a goal from Jack Sullivan with five seconds left on the advantage, making it 2-1.
The Titans failed to capitalize on two more penalties that carried into the second period, but they hunt tough for most of the frame.
Until the very end.
PCD held possession for most of the final minute and with one second left, Patrick Fleming punched in a pass from behind for a demoralizing goal.
“They got the faceoff down there with about a 1:20 left,” Champagne said. “We get a clear but it’s right back in. We’re grinding it out, keeping it to the outside, but you’re playing with fire right there. As a coaching staff, you know you’re not getting a change and you’re watching the clock. That was tough.”
The Titans had a handful of chances in the third but couldn’t get a puck past PCD goalie Brandon Gribbin. He finished with 16 saves. David Stachurski totaled 26 for the Titans.
On Saturday, Toll Gate fell behind 2-0 before a third-period goal by Jesse Butler made it 2-1. But the comeback attempt ran out of time.
The Titans will return to the ice with a doubleheader against Portsmouth and Lincoln this weekend.