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WOONSOCKET â This is how Mount St. Charles sophomore Brian Larence celebrated an amazing 3-2, double-overtime victory over La Salle Academy on Monday night:
While his teammates went ballistic on the ice, exchanging hugs and high-fives, Larence skated to the chain-link fence near the Mountiesâ bench at Adelard Arena and fist-bumped schoolmates with his right-handed glove.
He then shed his stick, bent over, grabbed some snow off the ice and threw it at those fans, still going berserk at what they had just witnessed.
With 1:42 remaining in the second OT session â 46 seconds after officials whistled the Rams for a two-minute, too many men on the ice penalty â junior Brian Belisle drilled a wrister at La Salle freshman goalie Tyler Walsh, who made the save.
Senior defenseman Nick Bennett pounded on the rebound and ripped the power-play tally past Walsh to post the game-winner in the rubber tilt of this R.I. Championship Division semifinal. He did so before a thrilled, sold-out gathering at the arena.
âWe won it for the coach,â coach Dave Belisle grinned after the contest, then explained how his dad, legendary mentor Bill Belisle, had suffered a gash above his right eye in the final seconds of the initial stanza.
âI guess the blade of a stick â I donât know if it was us or them â caught him near the temple,â the younger Belisle stated. âI know heâs going to need some stitches, and he may have a concussion. But heâs a tough old guy. Heâs an old-style guy. The trainer treated him, and he was back on the bench at the beginning of the second.
âWeâre going to take him to Landmark (Medical Center) in a few minutes, but thatâs OK,â he added. âHeâs been there before.â
Dave Belisle called this series against La Salle âone of the greatest series Iâve seen since Iâve been alive,â and he did so for good reason: The Rams eked out a 2-1 victory in the first of this best-of-three set, and the Mounties forced a third tilt when sophomore Brandon Borges scored the game-winner just nine ticks into double overtime in the second contest on Saturday night.
âI told the kids during that game, âYouâve got one breath. Do you want to keep your mouth open and take it? Or do you want to get closed out?ââ he said. âThey chose to take that breath.
âThe resiliency of this team has been extraordinary,â he continued. âTalk about clutch. We were 50 seconds away from not advancing (on Saturday night), but found a way to win. Thereâs just no quit in these guys.
âWe just drive and drive and drive. They remain calm. They count on me to stay cool and do their jobs. I just tell them, âGive it time, and do what youâre supposed to do.ââ
MSC took that advice right from the start. A mere 2:09 into the game, Brian Belisle used a backhand in the slot to beat Walsh, and the goal came courtesy of assists from seniors Brian Campbell and Ryan Berard.
Then, just 3:25 later, Borges drilled a wrist shot from the left circle to make it 2-0. Sophomore Tyler Scroggins and senior Callen Morriseau assisted on that one.
The Mounties (now 15-5 overall) ran into some trouble toward the end of the middle period. Ben Handanyan was whistled for holding with 5:48 remaining, and â only eight seconds later â referees gave Bennett two minor penalties for cross-checking and unsportsmanlike conduct.
The two infractions gave La Salle a five-on-three advantage for 1:53, and the Rams didnât let the opportunity get away. With 4:19 left, sophomore Bryan Lemos beat Larence with a wrister from inside the left circle after receiving a feed from Jason Delisle.
Despite the fact 2:39 remained on Bennettâs double minor, the penalty-killing crew of Borges, Handanyan, Berard and James Casilli thwarted the Ramsâ attempts.
La Salle knotted the score at 2-2 just 23 seconds into the third. Thatâs when speedy senior Robert Fox flipped a wrist shot over Larenceâs shoulder. Ryan Izzo assisted on that goal.
The final 10 minutes of the third period turned into a dogfight, with both squads creating their fair share of stellar chances, but both Walsh and Larence stood tall in their respective cages.
With 3:14 left in the third, MSC apparently had scored in a scrum in front of Walsh, but the officials waved it off.
No one scored in the first OT period, which lasted 7:30 and followed a four-on-four format, though MSCâs Berard and the Ramsâ Lemos both had superb point-blank chances.
When the second OT began, the same four-on-four intact, Bennett ripped a slap shot at Walsh from above the right circle, but the goalie made a magnificent glove save with 6:49 left.
But, with 2:28 remaining on the game clock, La Salle was called for the âtoo many menâ penalty (Nathaniel McDonald served it), and Dave Belisle immediately called a time out.
Only 46 seconds later, Bennett delivered the game-winner, causing chaos in the stands.
The Mounties now will face Hendricken, which swept Burrillville in he other semifinal on Saturday, in the Championship Division finals.
âWe had played so well before (the penalties in the second period), and the penalties changed the momentum,â Dave Belisle noted. âI know Nick felt so badly about it, so Iâm glad he ended up with the winning goal.
âOnce the coach (Bill Belisle) got hurt, our kids wanted to win it for him,â he added. âWeâre not good enough to put anyone away, and you have to give La Salle a lot of credit. They played great. But we are good enough to win the big games, and thatâs just what happened here.â
That being said, he grinned, then walked back inside the Mountiesâ locker room to find his dad, then take him to the hospital.â