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WARWICK â€“ For the past 12 league games, Mount St. Charles Academy has punished most of its opponents in Division I, averaging about seven goals an outing.
Not this time.
La Salle Academy avenged its earlier shellacking to the Mounties on Friday night to give its rival its first setback of the winter with a thrilling 3-0 victory at Thayer Arena. The Rams received an outstanding effort from goalie Joseph Noonan to earn their shut out win. Playing his first game since suffering an injury on New Yearâ€™s Day, Noonan turned away 27 shots by the Mounties.
â€śThe kid played really well,â€ť MSC assistant coach Dave Belisle said. â€śWe had chances, but Noonan is a good goalie. Once they knew their goalie was on, it was trouble.â€ť
The loss is rare territory for the Mounties, who are now 11-1-1 in the league. The last time the three-time defending state champions skated off the ice without a point was during the 2008-09 season when they dropped the second of a two-game regular season games with Bishop Hendricken midway into the 2008-09 season.
La Salle matched the Mountiesâ€™ speed and intensity throughout the contest. But for the first two periods, it was Mount that has the best chances to light the lamp. The Mounties outshot the Rams by a convincing 27-9 margin in the game and held a 19-5 differential before the final period.
After a scoreless opening period, the Ramsâ€™ Nathaniel McDonald scored what proved to be the eventual game-winner when he deposited a shot from the right crease to the left corner of the net. McDonald took a perfect feed from teammate Stephen Rocchio from across the crease at 7:42 of the period.
Although the Mounties had limited threats to score in the first period, the middle period was a different story. Mount began to heat up in the final seven minutes unleashing most of its 10 shots in the direction of Noonan, who made several outstanding saves and was also aided by a strong defense in front of him.
With about eight minutes left in the period, the Mountiesâ€™ Benjamin Handanyon fired a shot from the top of the left circle that sailed just over the net. The puck hit the board and fell right in front of the stick of Zach Samborsky, who nearly tipped one in from just inside the right crease that Noonan was able to stop.
Mount has plenty of other chances to score, including back-to-back slap shots from Derek Deschene and Shamus Maloney from in front of the blue line that Noonan was able to thwart away.
â€śWe didnâ€™t score in the first two periods and we dominated play,â€ť Belisle said. â€śWe knew it was going to be trouble in the third. We know the kid Noonan is a real good goaltender and we had our chances to score and we couldnâ€™t bury it. Thatâ€™s the bottom line. They out-skated us in the third period. Territorial, we had the edge but we couldnâ€™t generate enough offense.â€ť
La Salle appeared to gain some confidence after the first two periods and clearly held the edge over their talented rival. Jason Delisle netted the insurance goal at 8:46 of the final period and Rocchio scored an empty-netter with 54 seconds left in the game.
â€śIn hockey, the first goal is more important than you really think,â€ť said La Salle coach Michael Gaffney, whose squad suffered a 7-2 loss to the Mounties back on Jan. 21. â€śSometimes you think things are going alright because the scoreboard reads 1-0. They talked about it between periods that the scoreboard may read one-zip, but we are kind of hanging on a little bit. I thought the third period they got hungry againâ€¦and they went after it against a Mount team that was looking for one of their great comebacks.â€ť
The Mounties are back on the ice tonight at Boss Arena when they take on North Kingstown. Mount will then travel to Hamden High for a non-league matchup on Wednesday and then takes on second-place Moses Brown (10-1-1) next Friday. The Quakers and Mounties battled to a 6-6 overtime draw on Jan. 8.
â€śWe got a game tomorrow night. We have a big week ahead of us,â€ť Belisle said. â€śWe have Hamden, Moses Brown - a full schedule ahead of us. Itâ€™s a battle. We knew it was going to be a battle this evening. All the private (schools) are pretty strong.â€ť
Mount 0-0-0 0
La Salle 0-1-2 â€“ 3
First period â€“ No scoring. Penalties â€“ MSC, 1-2. LaS, 1-2.
Second period â€“ LaS, Nathaniel McDonald (Stephen Rocchio, Bryan Lemos) 7:42. No penalties.
Third period â€“ LaS, Jason Delisle (Eric Dionne, Cameron Walsh) 8:46; LaS, Rocchio (Stephen Inman) 14:06. Penalties â€“ MSC, 2-4. LaS, 1-2.
Saves â€“ LaS, Joseph Noonan 27. MSC, Dan Foster 7. Shots â€“ MSC 27. LaS 9.