Defending champ Hawks win first showdown with Mounties
The last time the Bishop Hendricken hockey team saw Mount St. Charles, the Hawks knocked off the defending state champion Mounties to claim a title of their own last March.
On Saturday, the teams met for the first time since that series, and though the stakes weren’t quite as high, Hendricken continued to show that Rhode Island hockey isn’t strictly Mount-dominated anymore. Thanks to two late second period goals and standout goaltending from senior Mitch Proulx, Hendricken stayed unbeaten in league play with a 4-0 victory on the road at Adelard Arena.
Andrew Fera scored twice, while Matt Creamer scored and added two assists as the Hawks improved to 5-0, atop Division I-Cimini. Mount fell to 1-1.
“It’s huge,” Fera said. “We knew we needed this for the season. We needed the momentum. I think it was great for us to come in and shut them out in their own place.”
The Mounties actually out-shot Hendricken in all three periods, amounting to a 44-31 advantage. But Proulx was there to stop all 44 pucks that came on net.
Proulx turned aside 15 shots in a first period that was largely controlled by Mount, and followed that up with a 17-save second period to help the Hawks build up an insurmountable lead.
“I thought our goaltending was superb,” Hendricken head coach Jim Creamer said. “Mitch did a great job.”
Hendricken has now beaten every team in D-I-Cimini and D-I-Eccleston except for Smithfield and Cranston West, both of which it hasn’t played yet. It also went 2-1 in the Mount St. Charles Holiday Face-Off Tournament from Dec. 27-29 against some strong out-of-state competition.
It’s beaten La Salle too, and now Mount, giving itself some breathing room as the season progresses.
“I think we’re doing really good,” Fera said. “We lost a lot of players and we knew that, but we had to keep our heads up and keep rolling, just play our hardest. As the defending state champs, we’ve got to do that.”
Fera got the scoring started for the Hawks in the first period on Saturday. He and Matt Creamer charged up the ice on an odd-man rush and Creamer centered the puck from the right side to Fera’s stick. Fera converted from just outside the crease, beating Mount goalie Brian Larence and giving Hendricken a 1-0 lead 8:35 into the game.
The Hawks carried that advantage into the second period, but Mount was holding play. Then, suddenly, Hendricken blew the game wide open.
With the second period coming to an end, Fera took a pass from Tucker Alberigo just above the left-wing circle and he buried a slap shot to make it 2-0 with just 30.7 seconds left in the period. Creamer was also credited with an assist.
That goal shifted the momentum, but Mount was still in the game, down two goals.
Eighteen seconds later, the Mounties were down three.
On the ensuing face-off, Ed Markowski controlled the puck and Hendricken advanced into the offensive zone. Markowski found Creamer by the right post and he beat Larence for a quick, back-breaking goal with only 12 seconds remaining in the period.
In the span of 18 seconds, the Hawks had stretched a 1-0 lead to 3-0 with just one period to play.
“Once we got that one, particularly going into the break, now they have to sit and think about that for a little bit,” Jim Creamer said. “I was happy with how we looked.”
All three of Hendricken’s goals in the first two periods came with its top line of Matt Creamer, Markowski and Fera on the ice. Those three are 1-2-3 in D-I scoring, with Alberigo – a defenseman – tied for third with Fera.
“We need them to score goals, and they’ve been doing it,” Jim Creamer said. “We had them separated a little bit earlier in the year, and out of necessity we’ve put them back together and it’s worked out well. I used them quite a bit tonight and they did a heck of a job.”
In the third period, the Hawks got a little more insurance when freshman Brandon Waterman scored on a backhand off a pass from fellow freshman Jamie Armstrong three minutes into the period. That made the score 4-0, and ended any comeback hopes for the Mounties.
Waterman, Armstrong and Reilly Miller, another freshman, played significant minutes, giving Hendricken a fourth line to rotate in. While Mount went with just two lines for much of the game, the Hawks used their depth to stay fresh.
“It’s good for us, because we can roll four lines with ease and still put goals in, too,” Fera said.
Later in the period, Mount went on a power play but could get nothing past Proulx.
The Hawks wanted the shutout, and they got it.
“I think all the kids respect Mitch and how hard he works,” Creamer said. “For him and for the team, they wanted the shutout.”
For the Mounties, the good news is that they’ll likely be a stronger team later in the season. They were playing without their top player, senior Brian Belisle, who has been out with a concussion since the early part of the season.
Belisle was the top scorer in the division last year with 40 points, and he was the individual leader in both goals and assists.
“It’s like the Patriots playing without [Tom] Brady,” Creamer said. “Brian Belisle is, I think, the best player in the state. Them playing without him is a difference.”
And the Hawks may get to see the Mounties at full strength sometime down the line, as the teams will play two more times during the regular season, although not again until Jan. 26.
In the meantime, Hendricken will try to stay unbeaten when it’s back in action this Friday against Barrington at Dennis Lynch Arena at 8 p.m.
Mount will also play Friday, as it hosts Coventry at Adelard at 9 p.m.