WARWICK â The fifth time was the charm.
Ryan Berardâs unassisted goal -- a seemingly harmless pass from behind the net that deflected off the skate of a La Salle defenseman and past the goalie -- with 2:38 to go in the game snapped a 2-2 tie and helped Mount St. Charles nab a huge 4-2 victory over the Rams at Thayer Arena.
Brian Campbellâs goal off a pass from Brian Belisle with 1:53 left sealed the deal and allowed the Mounties (11-5) to yank a huge monkey off their backs and beat the Rams (10-5-1) for the first time in five meetings this season.
Both teams skated into this showdown tied for second place behind Bishop Hendricken in the Division Iâs power points standings with 16.2 points each.
But entering this game, the Rams had the Mountiesâ number, winning their first three Division I meetings by scores of 3-1, 3-2 (in overtime), and 6-1, and also grabbing a 3-2 win from them in the Christopher Brooks Memorial game on Jan. 17 at Providence College.
But that all changed, thanks to the two late goals and a superb penalty kill in the second period by the Mounties that gave them a surge of momentum.
With the score tied at 2-2, not only did they have to wipe out a 5-on-3 power play by La Salle early in the period that lasted 1:45 and seemed like forever, but also a five-minute major later that period.
âWeâve been beaten by [La Salle] in three of the four games by the penalty box,â admitted MSC coach Dave Belisle. âAnd there it was, staring us in the face. Thereâs the season right there. But we went out and killed the penalties, and that was the game.
âThat just brought our confidence level up. We didnât go, âOh, no, not again.â We took the challenge and we did it. We killed the penalties and then we had a great third period, a Mount third period.â
The Mounties wasted no time at all â just 79 seconds â to jump on the board, as Tyler Scroggins took a pass from Brandon Borges and flipped a shot from the side of the net over the stick of La Salle netminder Tyler Walsh.
But the Rams quickly responded. They tied the contest 38 seconds later on a goal by Matt Botieri that was set up by Joe Manown, and then took the lead at 5:33 when Jason Delisle stuffed a pass by Bryan Lemos past MSC goalie Brian Larence.
With 3:04 to play in the period, Mount knotted the score on Belisleâs team-high 15th goal of the season. He scored on a 2-on-1 breakaway by tipping in a pass from Berard over Walshâs shoulder.
The score stayed deadlocked after two periods of play. During this time, the Mounties rang the post twice with shots, and Campbell had the best chance at a goal with 40 seconds left in the second when he swiped the puck from a defenseman and broke in alone on Walsh, only to clang metal.
Early in the third period, the Mounties hit their third post of the game when Nick Bennettâs slap shot at the end of a 39-second, 5-on-3 power play got a piece of it.
But instead of dwelling on what could have been, the visitors kept plugging away at their rivals and finally delivered late in the game.
â[La Salle] is very good in transition, but we didnât give them the 2-on-1s like we did in the first period,â said the Mount coach. âWe forechecked well, we kept the puck in deep, and we put the puck on net and we caught a break [on Berardâs goal]. It was nice to catch one.â
The four-time defending champs conclude their regular season next weekend with an 8 p.m. game at Adelard Arena against first-place Bishop Hendricken and a contest the following night at Levy Arena against Moses Brown.