’Canes still looking for break-out
On Jan. 19, the Warwick Vets hockey team played its best game of the season when it pushed cross-town rival Pilgrim – a Division II team – to the brink in a one-goal non-league loss.
The Hurricanes returned to Division III play the next day, hoping to build on that performance, but instead lost 6-0 to Scituate.
It’s been more of the same since.
The ’Canes were swept in a pair of games this past weekend, falling 4-1 to Scituate on Friday and 9-2 to Ponaganset on Saturday. They’ve now lost five in a row since that solid Pilgrim game and nine in a row overall.
“The boys were ready for that Pilgrim game,” said head coach Mike Boyajian. “Cross-town rival, they were fired up. It’s almost like if I threw a Pilgrim jersey on any other teams, we’d have a different story. It’s just inconsistent from night to night. We’ve got a young team, a lot of inexperience. That confidence comes with age and comes with time. We’re still working on it.”
While there’s some natural frustration that comes with the lack of positive results, the ’Canes understand it’s all part of a process. On Friday, they were without senior captain Kyle Veyera – who was attending a leadership conference for school – and the resulting lineup was even younger than normal. There wasn’t one senior among the nine players who did the bulk of the skating. The group included four freshmen and three sophomores.
“A lot of these guys are still getting to know the game,” Boyajian said. “It’s a process and it’s not something we get angry about it. We understand and learn what we have to do and that’s what we work on in practice.”
Vets was 0-2 against Scituate this season, having lost by 7-0 and 6-0 scores. Friday’s meeting was closer, but the Spartans still had control most of the way.
Greg Fontaine hit the post on a shot for Vets early in the game, and the ’Canes managed to kill off a first-period penalty to keep things scoreless. But just after the power play ended, Scituate broke through. After a face-off win, Jared Pedro blasted a slap shot past Vets goalie Colby Howard to make it 1-0.
The ’Canes struggled to generate consistent offense but kept the Spartans off the scoreboard for the next five minutes. But at the tail end of the first period, Scituate added to its lead. With six seconds left, Lucas Mancinelli took advantage of a turnover in the offensive zone and slipped the puck past Howard for the 2-0 cushion.
“We were a little short-handed tonight, but overall, it was a pretty good game,” Boyajian said. “Once again, it’s about the kids having the confidence in themselves. They have the ability, but they just need to find that confidence to produce in a game situation out on the ice.”
Matt Besser gave Scituate a 3-0 lead just 38 seconds into the second period. Vets almost cut into it on a shot by David Kowalik that nearly slipped into the goal, but the Spartans pulled further away on another goal by Pedro with 3:33 left in the second.
Throughout the period, Vets couldn’t get much going.
“It’s that inexperience – kids second guessing their own ability – what should I do with the puck, when should I bounce it outside,” Boyajian said. “Between the inexperience with the young guys and the inexperience of not being in the game situation, they’re still learning.”
Vets had some solid stretches of hockey in the third period and capped one of them off with its only goal of the night. Jacob Mitchell tucked in a rebound after a shot by Tyler DiPetrillo. Kowalik also assisted.
The ’Canes had a few more chances to get closer, but Kowalik missed wide from the slot after stealing a Scituate pass and Tim Chaffee had a slap shot blocked on a power play chance.
Scituate improved to 7-6 with the victory and now stands at 8-6 after a win Saturday night.
The 0-2 weekend dropped Vets to 1-11 in league play. Boyajian is hoping a faster-paced schedule will help the team find a groove as it hits the stretch run. The ’Canes will play twice every weekend for the final three weeks of the season.
“We haven’t had a lot of back-to-backs, so there’s some rust that comes with that,” Boyajian said. “We’re in a stretch now that we’re playing back-to-backs the next four weekends. I think it’ll certainly help us. It’s building on that emotion. When you lose, being able to come back the next night, we haven’t had that opportunity. Sometimes, it’s helpful to get right back out there and correct the mistakes.”