PROVIDENCE --- Bishop Hendricken never saw it coming.
Mount St. Charles erupted for three goals in the first 12½ minutes and held a 4-0 lead in the final minutes of the second period before skating to a 5-2 win over their parochial rivals in the pivotal Game 3 of their State Championship series before a packed house at Brown University’s Meehan Auditorium.
The victory gives the Mounties (18-5) Banner No. 44 in their proud, storied history, and not only were they able to defend last winter’s title, but they also claimed their sixth state crown in the last seven years.
And they did so in magical fashion after getting swept by the Hawks (17-4-2) during their three-game, regular-season series and losing Game 1 of the best-of-three series, only to amazingly coming back from a 3-1 deficit (with less than eight minutes to play) to win Game 2 in overtime.
And that merely set the stage for what happened last night.
“We don’t quit,” said legendary Mount coach Bill Belisle, who has now won 32 state titles during his brilliant tenure behind the bench. “We’re too good of a team. Every shift counts, and shift by shift, we played well. This was a team effort, and everyone’s part of this.”
“We played a great third period on Saturday night, and I think that was the difference for us,” said Mount coach Dave Belisle. “We got our confidence, and coming into tonight game, we had some momentum. When we scored early, that was huge for us.”
Senior Tom Crudele and junior Justin D’Abrosca had big games offensively to spark the Mounties. Crudele had a hand in Mount’s first four goals (two goals and two assists), and D’Abrosca, who scored the first goal in the first two games of the series, did it again and then set up the next two goal.
But it was senior co-captain and veteran goaltender Brian Larence who was named the Msgr. Newbold MVP of the championship series. After coming up huge in the overtime session of Game 2 to keep the game tied, he turned away 29 shots in the clincher.
“This is what we worked for all season,” said Larence. “I’m so pleased and amazed by my team. We never quit, no matter what.”
“He definitely deserves the MVP,” added Dave Belisle. “He’s been with us for three years, and he knows what it takes to win championships.”
D’Abrosca’s goal came 4:35 into play when he flipped in the rebound of a shot by Crudele, and at 9:32, Pat Holmes doubled Mount’s lead by scoring off a nice give-and-go with D’Abrosca.
Three minutes later, Crudele gave the defending champs their 3-0 command by taking a pass from D’Abrosca and firing a wristshot from the left faceoff circle over the shoulder of goaltender Matt Kenneally.
Down 3-0, the Hawks did everything in their power in the second period to cut their deficit, but the Mounties and Larence, who had a dozen saves in the period, kept them off the board.
Then with 3:41 on the clock and the Hawks on a power play, Crudele scored his other goal on a breakaway from the blue line, as he reeled in a long pass from Holmes and was able to flip a shot past Kenneally, who was eventually pulled at the start of the third period in favor of backup Christian Maselli.
Seventy-one seconds after that goal, the Hawks finally got on the board on a goal by Jonathan Finelli that was set up by fellow captain Liam Watkinson.
The score remained 4-1 at the end of the period and through most of the last period, as the Hawks again tried in vain to get back into the game, only to get turned away by Larence’s play and the efforts of senior co-captain and defenseman Marc Squizzero.
With time running out in the final period, the Hawks resorted to desperate measures and pulled Maselli early for a sixth attacker, but Squizzero made the pay by netting a long unassisted, empty-netter with 3:23 left in the game.
Watkinson produced the Hawks’ final goal with 47 seconds left to play, but moments later, the Mounties were throwing their sticks and gloves in the air and mobbing Larence in the corner of the rink.
“Even when it came down to the last two minutes and we were up – I don’t even know what the score was – I just felt like they could come back at any moment,” Larence said of the Hawks. “Hendricken plays us tough and they never gave up.”
Follow Eric Benevides on Twitter @EricBen24