WJHA Peewees win state championship
The Warwick Junior Hockey Association Peewee A team defeated the top-seeded Providence Junior Bears 3-1 to win the R.I. Hockey Peewee State Championship on March 3 at the Smithfield Municipal Rink.
The Waves, the third seed, went undefeated in pool-play despite tough competition. They opened the first round by steam-rolling Southern Rhode Island 6-1 thanks to goals by Chris Leander, Mason Savaria, Collin Csoszer (two), Tyler Minor and Matt Kazanjian and assists from Seth Barrasso, Will Fox, Ryan Sabol and Kiernan Habershaw. Warwick then advanced by grinding out a hard-fought victory in a physical and penalty filled game against the Northern Rhode Island Vikings. The team won 3-2 in overtime on winger Jack Clements’s goal 48 seconds into the extra frame assisted by Tyler Minor and defenseman Jacob Woodbine. Csoszer scored two goals in the victory.
In the championship game, despite excellent defense by Kristina Kim, Andrew Canning and Alec Schlink, Providence took the early lead on a goal in the first period by Nicholas Antonucck. Warwick evened the score in the second on Clements’s goal assisted by line-mates Csoszer and Leander. That goal provided the Waves with a spark, as they struck again two minutes later when defenseman Cam Palumbo threaded a long outlet pass to Matt Kazanjian, springing him on a break-away. Kazanjian made no mistake, firing a wrist shot over the Providence goalie’s glove for what would prove to be the eventual game winner.
Warwick was able to hold the lead deep into the third period with solid team defense, a good back-check and stellar goaltending by the Wave tandem of Ben Meunier and Calvin Orton, who turned away a combined 32 Providence shots. Despite being down, Providence continued to battle, and with 1:20 remaining they were given a golden opportunity when Warwick’s Leander was whistled for interference while defending a Providence break-in. The Bruins pulled their goalie, giving them a two man advantage. On the ensuing power play Providence manufactured some excellent scoring opportunities, but was turned away by a disciplined Warwick penalty kill. The state championship was secured when Csoszer, off a shot block by Clements, won a race for the loose puck in the neutral zone and scored a short-handed open netter with 40 seconds left on the clock.
The victory represented a total team effort, with all 17 players contributing: defensemen Seth Barrasso, Kristina Kim, Jacob Woodbine, Camden Palumbo, Andrew Canning and Alec Schlink; forwards Ryan Sabol, Will Fox, Chris Leander, Matt Kazanjian, Mason Savaria, Kiernan Habershaw, Jack Clements, Collin Csoszer, and Tyler Minor; goaltenders Calvin Orton and Ben Meunier; water-boy Adam Leander; coaches Chris Orton, Mike Palumbo, Dan Leander and Mike Minor and team managers Marilyn Palumbo and Sherri Leander.
The Waves will now play in the New England District Tier II Regional Tournament at the University of Maine’s Alfond Arena in Orono, Maine from March 8-10.