WOONSOCKET — Mount St. Charles head coach Dave Belisle spent nearly a half hour speaking to his troops behind his closed locker room doors on Saturday afternoon.
It came of no surprise.
His Mounties had played rather well through the initial two 15-minute periods while battling Fairfield Prep of Connecticut; actually, they did the same for another nine minutes of the third before buckling, allowing the floodgates to open.
The Jesuits exploded for three late goals in the last stanza to pound the Mount, 4-0, in the third and final tilt of the Mount St. Charles Holiday Tournament. With the loss, Belisle and Co. fell to 1-2 in the event they host and 6-4 overall.
“We only played two-and-a-half good periods, and we let one goal deflate us – just one goal,” Belisle explained after his lengthy soliloquy to his team. “That’s the disappointing part. When you only play two-plus periods against a team like that, you’re not going to get it done.
“I’ve been preaching it for a long time – you’ve got to play three full periods of hockey – but I’m not getting it,” he continued. “Even in the (Division I/Cimini League) games we’ve won, over Cranston Co-op, Burrillville, La Salle and Smithfield, we only played hard for two periods.
“(On Thursday) night against St. Joseph’s (Collegiate High on New York), we played great, but then we went into overtime and lost. If we had hustled for three periods, we could’ve won it in regulation. This is an issue we’ve got to correct or we’re not going to be successful this season.”
For Fairfield Prep, who managed a 2-1 mark in this tourney, freshman forward Jack Hoey posted a goal and an assist, while senior Matt Wikman, junior Brandon Powell and senior Matt McKinney provided the third-period surge.
Statistics showed that senior netminder Brian Larence played extremely well, garnering 47 saves, but that wasn’t how Belisle saw it.
“I thought he played a pretty good game, but he’d be the first one to admit it – he didn’t get it done in the third,” Belisle emphasized. “We needed for him to step up in the third and he didn’t. He and (senior defenseman/co-captain Marc) Squizzero have been our best players all year, but they’re both parts of a team of 20.
“I know Brian wouldn’t want me to say he played a great game though we lost 4-0. He’d want me to say he didn’t get it done in the third period. He definitely was the difference through two-and-a-half, but we lost … With these guys, there’s no question it’s a mind-set issue.
“We’ve had our fair share of injuries, and we are young, given the fact we have eight freshmen,” he added. “We’re missing our No. 1 center in (junior forward Patrick) Holmes, and our No. 2 forward in (classmate Kevin) Valentine. They’re out for the tournament, but we’ve been dealing with a couple of key injuries a game all season.
“This is all about the effort for 45 full minutes, from the opening faceoff to the final horn. Mount St. Charles has always been known for a sustained effort for three periods. We may not have been clicking for a period, but the effort was always there. I could see it if it was all due to inexperience, but we have a senior-junior group, too. They need to show leadership for a full game, and they’re not doing it.”
As for the tilt itself, Hoey recorded an unassisted goal with 4:55 left in the opening session to give the Jesuits what proved to be the clincher; in the second, however, MSC manufactured several opportunities to beat senior goalie Chris Gutierrez.
The Mounties already had 56 seconds left of its first power play entering the middle stanza, and, 10 ticks in, officials whistled Prep senior Dean Lockery for boarding. That gave the hosts 46 seconds of five-on-three hockey.
Freshman Daniel Allen did drill a try from the left circle at the keeper at the 30-second mark, but Gutierrez (20 saves) made a sterling glove stop.
Eventually, the Jesuits killed off the infraction, yielding the Mounties that lone attempt.
Three-plus minutes later, Wikman raced down the left side and tried to shove a backhand under Larence, though he knocked it away with his stick. With 9:56 remaining, senior Devin Votta delivered a back pass to classmate Tom Crudele inside the left point, and he ripped a slapper through a defenseman at Gutierrez, who made a solid double-pad save.
A mere 18 seconds after, Killoy earned a penalty for interference, giving MSC its third power-play chance; how it didn’t score on that remains to be seen. Senior Ryan Badeau had skated in front and ripped a 10-foot wrister at the Prep keeper, who made an outstanding first stop. Freshman Tim Casilli pounced on the rebound and pushed a backhand in his direction. Again, Gutierrez poked it away.
With 5:37 left in the second, junior defenseman Keith Phaneuf flew down the left side, outhustled an opponent and tried to flip a point-blank shot over the goalie, but he blocked the cage on his knees.
The Mounties survived a penalty to Crudele at the 10:26 mark, dispelling the Jesuits’ first man-advantage situation (despite four tries on net), then received another gift when FP junior Vinny D’Amore was whistled for elbowing with 38 seconds remaining.
Belisle’s club had 1:22 of a power play at the start of the third, and did come out hustling, but Gutierrez – with help from sophomore Billy Overby, senior Steve Bayles and Blanchette – killed the infraction.
The Mounties’ best opportunity to knot it 1-1 came with 8:44 left; that’s when Votta crushed a drive from the right point, and freshman Jack Boisvert deflected it with his skate toward the cage. Gutierrez, however, flashed his right pad out front to knock it from harm.
There was only 5:05 remaining in regulation when Boisvert took a hooking call, dealing FP a two-minute man advantage. Four seconds later, Wikman’s backhand off feeds from Kenny Kochiss and Killoy gave FP the power-play tally and a 2-0 advantage.
The Jesuits cushioned the lead when Powell scored on a pass from junior Mike Ventricelli at 11:36; and McKinney lifted a wrister from the left circle over a sprawled Larence.
Justin Blanchette and Hoey assisted on that last tally.
“We’re 6-4 overall, and that’s where we were last year, or even worse,” Belisle stated. “We still won the state championship, so there’s hope.”
When asked how much, he grinned, “Oh, my God! This is just the beginning. I promise you’ll see a different team at the end of the year. You will see Mount skate hard and tough for three periods, and I’m serious!”