Pilgrim doubles up JNP to remain tied atop standings

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The Pilgrim boys’ hockey team broke open a one-goal game in the third period on Friday evening, outscoring Johnston/North Providence 4-1 over the final 15 minutes in an eventual 8-4 triumph that improved its record to a league-best 5-1.

A goal apiece from Collin Driscoll, Ty Morgan and Ronald Minear in the first period helped the Pats hold a 3-1 lead after one, as JNP freshman Ryan DiLorenzo added the Panthers’ lone tally on a pass in front that deflected off a Pilgrim defenseman and in.

In the second period, the Pats had trouble containing JNP junior defenseman Brandon Tanguay.

Pilgrim dominated time of possession, but Tanguay got loose twice for a pair of breakaway goals. His first came at 8:21 of the period when he picked up the puck in his defensive zone before cruising in and sneaking a shot under Pilgrim netminder Kyle DiMascio.

Pilgrim freshman forward Dylan Gallagher responded when he buried a shot in traffic to make it 4-2 at 13:08, but just 22 seconds later, Tanguay potted his second of the period when he used his speed to get behind the Pilgrim defense before deking and scoring to trim JNP’s deficit to 4-3 after two periods.

“We’re going to keep it in the locker room what I said specifically, but it was basically that we had to play with more intensity,” Pilgrim head coach Mike Boyajian, Jr., said of his message to his team between the second and third periods. “They came out flat. We hadn’t played in a couple weeks and it was showing. I told them that ‘You have to get going.’ They responded pretty well.”

Morgan, who compiled two goals and four assists on the night, set the tone out of the locker room.

He won the opening draw and created an odd-man rush before sending a shot on goal with a purpose. His shot was stopped by JNP goaltender Jacob Frezza, but caromed to the stick of Jack Clements, who was flying down the left wing, for an easy goal.

Clements returned the favor less than two minutes later. While on the power play, Clements rolled out from behind the net and sent a pass out to Morgan in the slot for a goal, giving Pilgrim some breathing room at 6-3 with 13:09 left in the third period.

Morgan created some more offense while shorthanded at 5:59 of the third, as he won a faceoff in the attacking zone back to senior captain Pat Reilly at the point, who fired a seeing-eye shot through traffic for his first goal of the game, pushing the lead out to 7-3.

“Morgan I thought had a fantastic game,” Boyajian, Jr., said. “He was our catalyst. He was involved in a lot of the goals, and I have to give credit where it’s due. He led the way for the other guys to get going.”

Tanguay completed his hat trick with a third breakaway goal at 12:08 of the final period, bringing his season goal total to a team-best 10. The junior moved back to defense this year after leading the team in points as a sophomore in an attempt to stabilize the back line, but he has still found a way to pick his spots on offense.

“We ask a lot of him playing defense because he’s a natural center,” JNP head coach David Centracchio said of Tanguay. “He’s a goal-scoring forward. I think he was a big reason, defensively, why we were in that game for the first couple of periods. He’s a force to be reckoned with. He’s an excellent puck handler and he has a great shot. He’s been good with taking his opportunities and rushing the puck.”

Eric Stevens became the seventh Pilgrim player to score a goal in the game when he found the back of the net late to make it an 8-4 final.

If Pilgrim can get that many players involved offensively on a nightly basis, then it will be an extremely tough to beat as the season progresses.

“If we’re spreading the puck around like that, we should be able to put a bunch of goals up,” Boyajian, Jr., said of his balanced scoring attack. “We have a lot of talented kids who can finish.”

Pilgrim will look to keep its momentum going against Narragansett/Chariho Co-op at 7:45 p.m. at Thayer Arena on Saturday night.

JNP, on the other hand, was looking to find its way back in the win column on Wednesday when it faced off against Narragansett/Chariho, but results were unavailable to press time.

The Panthers will also travel to play West Warwick/Exeter West Greenwich Co-op at the West Warwick Civic Center at 9 p.m. on Friday, before hosting Mt. Hope, which is tied with Pilgrim atop the standings, at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday at the Rhode Island Sports Center.

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