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PROVIDENCE â The slow start hurt, but the late penalties proved to be the undoing of the Burrillville/Ponaganset co-op team on Saturday afternoon in the opening game of their best-of-three Division I championship series with the Barrington co-op squad.
Emily Carlsonâs second goal of the game, on a 5-on-3 power play with 2:22 left in the game, ruined a dominant third-period showing by the Broncos and lifted the Eagles to a 3-2 triumph at Providence Collegeâs Schneider Arena.
The Broncos (10-10) seemed to do no wrong in that last period, as they took the first 16 shots and kept the Eagles (13-6-1) from taking one on goaltender Brittney Bebeau through the first 13-plus minutes of play.
They also erased a 2-1 deficit and tied the score 1:42 into the final period on a goal by Trista Cardone that saw her flip in the rebound of a shot by Maggie Reid in heavy traffic in front of the Eaglesâ net past goalie Sophie Faxon.
But before anybody in the arena could think about overtime, the Broncos got bit by the penalty bug with less than three minutes to play. A minor penalty, which was quickly followed by a five-minute major, gave Barrington a two-player advantage for 1:38 and they took advantage of it.
After the Broncos dumped the puck down the Eaglesâ end of the ice, Carlson quickly gathered the puck, skated the length of the ice, and tried to stuff the puck past Bebeauâs left skate. Bebeau kicked out the shot, but couldnât stop Carlson from instantly flicking the rebound past her.
âI told them that we had to come out in the third period, which has been our period all season long, and we did,â added Burrillville coach Marc Brissette. âWe came out strong and took a lot of shots on them, but the penalties killed us.
âWe talked about discipline and staying out of the box, and when youâre in a championship game, you canât give the other team opportunities like we did today. You just canât have that.â
Luckily for the Broncos, this series is a best-of-three affair, and they will try to come back to PC for todayâs Game 2 (1 p.m. start) and knot the series. If the series needs a third game, it will be Tuesday at a time to be announced.
The Broncos, who outshot the Eagles, 31-21, will certainly look to pick up where they left off in their superbly-played last period â minus the penalties. They ended the game with six of them for 15 minutes, while the Eagles only got hit for one harmless minor penalty.
And they will try to get off to a much better start than they did on Saturday, as they were outshot in the first period by a 14-3 margin and did not record their first shot until 8:12 expired off the clock.
âI think it was a lot of nerves,â said Brissette. âWe had a lot of freshmen out there who never played in a big game like this, and we came out very flat. We expected to see some of that, but give (Barrington) credit. They wanted it more in that first period, they earned it, and they deserved it.â
The Broncos, who stormed to a 6-1 victory over the Eagles in their regular-season finale on Feb. 19, found themselves staring at a 1-0 deficit 6:53 into the game on Carlsonâs first goal, as she one-timed a sharp pass from behind the net by Kathleen Saunders past Bebeau.
In the second period, the Broncos righted their ship and tied the score at 2:44 when senior captain Kelsey Koprusak took a pass in the slot by Tiara Bianco and slipped a shot under Faxonâs glove. That goal was her 16th of the season and 60th of her superb career.
But the Eagles, who were outshot 12-5 in that period, made good on one of their few opportunities at 4:48 on a goal by Grace McGarty that she scored off the rebound of a shot by Chelsea Larisa.
The Eagles carried their one-goal lead into the break, but the Broncos struck for the equalizer off Cardoneâs stick. After Carlson put the Eagles ahead to stay, the Broncos tried in vain to again tie the score, but they were unable to muster a shot on net in the remaining time.
âThis was a tough way to lose,â added Brissette. âI told the kids, âWeâll go home, get some rest, and come back tomorrow.â This is a two-out-of-three series for a reason. They won the first game, but we got two more to go.â