WOONSOCKET — Head coach Nathan Arruda wants desperately to rekindle pride and interest in Woonsocket High hockey, as he – in the early 2000s – represented the program himself.
As far as he’s concerned, the young, inexperienced Villa Novans did just that on Friday night at Adelard Arena, despite dropping a tough 3-2 decision in their home opener.
In the end, with the score knotted at 2-2, freshman Greg Fontaine knocked in a power-play goal with only 1:54 remaining in regulation to give the Hurricanes the one-goal victory.
“It was this close,” Arruda grinned while placing his thumb and index finger perhaps a quarter inch apart. “It’s a tough loss, but it was back and forth pretty much the whole game. We have a lot of young guys this year; I’ve got a lot of freshmen, so they’re still learning.
“When it was over, I told the kids they have nothing to hang their heads about,” he added after the Novans fell to 0-2 overall. “Unfortunately, we got a bad bounce (on the clincher). We had a couple of chances at the end, but it didn’t bounce our way.”
Arruda was more than excited about the stellar play of freshman netminder Devon Rivard, who mustered 31 saves in his initial varsity game ever.
“We played very well; he stepped it up,” the coach claimed. “For his first game, I thought he was outstanding.”
Fontaine finished with two tallies for Warwick Vets, while senior defenseman and co-captain Kyle Veyera managed a goal and a feed.
It was Veyera who gave the Hurricanes their first goal of the contest, drilling a slap shot from the left point past Rivard with only 3:09 elapsed in the first stanza. With 1:34 left, it looked like the visitors would make it 2-0 when junior Oliver Pinheiro skipped over a defenseman’s stick and lifted a wrister at Rivard, though the try sailed inches above the crossbar.
Warwick did gain a 2-0 cushion after officials whistled sophomore Austin Forget for interference with just 46 seconds elapsed in the middle period. A mere 38 ticks later, Fontaine whistled a wind-up slapper from inside the blue line, and it caromed off the keeper’s glove, good for the power-play score.
Exactly two minutes later, with senior Robert Morin sliced the deficit to 2-1 after rifling an unassisted attempt through Howard.
The period would end that way. Still, the Novans picked it up a notch in the third, and seemingly tied it when freshman Anthony Jordeo slipped a backhand from the left circle toward the cage; after a Vets’ deflection, it slid underneath Howard’s pads, but never did reach the goal line.
Three minutes later, Allaire had a stellar chance on a breakaway, but it apparently hit Howard’s back skate before deflecting away.
Thirty-one seconds later, with 4:04 left, Allaire tied it for the first time at 2-2 when his wrister from the left circle caromed off a Hurricane defenseman.
That only set up Fontaine’s late-game heroics.
“I thought (senior co-captain) Marques Gonzalez, Allaire and Forget played great defensively for us; it actually looked better here than it had in the past,” Arruda stated. “We changed things up in the third, moving Alec up to forward, and we scored a quick goal. It just wasn’t enough.”