The Warwick boys hockey co-op made a massive statement last Friday night at Thayer, cruising past defending champion Bishop Hendricken 5-2. It was the first time that a Warwick public school beat …
The Warwick boys hockey co-op made a massive statement last Friday night at Thayer, cruising past defending champion Bishop Hendricken 5-2. It was the first time that a Warwick public school beat Hendricken in any sport since 2005, when the Toll Gate hockey team picked up a pair of the victories en route to the state championship.
The teams traded goals and would be tied 2-2 heading into the third period. But Warwick would come out fast in the final frame and take it to the Hawks, outscoring them 3-0 and enjoying a breakout performance in Division I.
“We had a chip on our shoulder. They were supposedly running this rink, so we went in as the underdog but we like that feeling. We feel that we can beat anyone this year as long as we work hard and put our heart out there,” said Warwick goalie Braxton Bragg, who finished the night with 28 saves in net.
The two teams share the same city, division and arena, which has formed a nice rivalry behind the scenes over the past few years. The Warwick players were excited to hit the ice and face the pressure of going against the high-flying Hawks.
“We talked about the history, but we were more focused on just doing our jobs and doing what we needed to do to get the win. We see those guys all the time, a bunch of our guys know them, they know us. It’s a great rivalry,” said Bragg.
Warwick filled the scoresheet with five different scorers. Ryan Barlow, Charlie Clements, Gerard Schifino, Richie Cavanagh and Aidan McNally all lit the lamp in the win. Hendricken’s goals came from Chris Hughes and Nicholas Regine.
Tied 2-2 heading into the final period, the message was simple in the Warwick locker room.
“Come out hard,” said Bragg. “We knew they were going to come out flying because in their minds, that game should not have been 2-2. We knew we had to come out flying and take it to them as soon as possible.”
“They worked hard all night, it was a battle. We had five different goal scorers so it was good to have a well-balanced attack. Braxton Bragg made some crucial saves, our special teams played really well. We had to kill a 5-minute major and we also got two power-play goals. We have to keep that going,” said Warwick coach Mike Boyajian.
Warwick improved to 4-2 with the win and all of a sudden is a contender in the state’s best division. The co-op moved up last season and struggled, finishing toward the bottom of the standings and playing a step behind the top clubs.
This year has been different, and the co-op feels that is has already improved enough to make some noise down the stretch.
“We just have experience. Last year moving up to Division I, it was a lot. It was a different speed than we were used to, but we took what we learned last year and improved on everything,” said Bragg.
Boyajian added: “It started at the Injury Fund, we scored 12 points against East Greenwich. Then we played well against some out of state opponents, the confidence continued to grow. We just couldn’t score last year, but being a little older, stronger, wiser, it goes a long way. They wanted to prove to themselves they belonged here.”
Warwick’s schedule does not get any easier as its next league game is this Friday against powerhouse La Salle.
Boyajian hopes his team uses the momentum of this historic win to its advantage, while being able to flip the page and refocus on the task at hand.
“It was a great win for the city of Warwick and for our hockey program itself. We are now looking forward to the next challenge, you’ve got a put it behind you,” Boyajian said. “We usually don’t worry too much about the opponent, we just try to practice hard, work on the technical aspect of the game. But let’s face it, these kids are friends with many of the players from Hendricken. They played together before high school, they share the same rink, they see each other a lot. They had a lot of confidence going into this game and they played a great game.”