The Johnston/North Providence boys hockey team split its weekend games, dropping a 7-5 thriller to first-place Pilgrim on Friday then rebounding to beat Narragansett/Chariho 6-4 the following day.
After falling behind 3-1 early in the first period, JNP would score three straight goals in 4 minutes to take a 4-3 lead heading into the second.
Pilgrim would go on to score three consecutive goals of its own and lead 6-4 in the third period. However, Johnston/NP/Tiverton would add a score with 1:24 left to cut the deficit to one.
The Pats would hold on and add an empty-net goal with six seconds remaining to claim the win and maintain possession of first place in Division III.
JNP’s goals came from captain Christian Campbell, Noah St. Denis, Jeremy Gervais, Seth Jacyssin and captain Ryan DiLorenzo. Goalie Ethan Arruda finished the evening with 18 stops.
“The mindset was to start the second period strong. If we didn’t start off strong in the second then the game would be over, they’re a good team and they are going to put in a few goals. It was back and forth the rest of the game, our mindset was to attack the net and let our goaltender do his thing,” said Pilgrim’s Sean Noel, who led the way with a hat trick. “It hits us, we try to win with our heart, between every period we see it as a 0-0 game. A win like this will definitely help us with our morale come playoff time.”
Aaron Sherlock scored two goals while Collin Driscoll and Daniel DeRobbio also added goals for Pilgrim. Dylan Cunetta stopped 29 shots for the Pats in net.
“(Arruda is) an outstanding goalie, he’s known to be very good and talented. We jumped up 3-1 and we forgot about the defensive zone,” said Pilgrim coach Michael Boyajian Sr. “Early in the game, a two-goal lead is the worst lead in hockey and we proved that tonight. From the goaltender out, we didn’t play well throughout the entire team. The kids came back and played great in the last two periods, they did a great job once they went back to playing in all three zones.”
Although Pilgrim has had to find it’s way after graduating key pieces from last year’s team, including Jack Clements, Boyajian Sr. feels that the Pats have the depth and work ethic to make another run at a title this winter.
“We have good depth, I believe that that is the strength of our team this year, we are able to roll out three good lines and attack. Attacking the net, playing strong defense, that’s our style. We don’t have the most talented team, but they work hard. Tonight, a lot of that was hard work (in the last two periods). When you go against a goalie like that, you need to work hard to get him moving and they were able to do that,” said Boyajian Sr.
The Panthers would win the following day however, topping Narragansett/Chariho 6-4.
DiLorenzo led the way for JNP with a hat trick, while Campbell added two goals and Foreman another. Arruda racked up 30 saves in the win. The Panthers will take on Narragansett/Chariho once again on Friday evening, then close out their season on Feb. 22nd when they square off against West Warwick.