BURRILLVILLE --- The Burrillville/Ponaganset co-op team has landed in a territory that it hasn’t occupied in a number of seasons.
The talented first line of Kelsey Koprusak, Katie Couture, and Kerri Nadeau supplied all the scoring, and the defense brought out its ‘A’ game to stop one of the state’s highest scoring teams on Saturday night and help capture a 4-0 victory over La Salle Academy at Levy Arena.
The Broncos, who are enjoying their most successful season since their 10-3-1 showing in the 2004-05 campaign, improved to 8-2 and moved into the runner-up spot in the standings behind defending state champion Mount St. Charles Academy (11-0).
Bay View Academy, which was idle this weekend, sits in third place at 7-2, while the Rams, who have now lost three of their last four games, falls to 8-4.
While the Broncos own the same 16 points as the Rams, they now also have a regular-season sweep of their series. Last Saturday, the locals erupted for four first-period goals en route to a 5-3 triumph over the defending Division II champion Rams.
“It’s always nice to beat the Catholic schools,” said Burrillville/Ponaganset coach Gary Rouleau with a smile. “This was a very nice win. The girls did a great job and I’m really proud of them.”
If there was one thing didn’t please Rouleau, it was the number of penalties his team took. They were bagged for eight of them for a total of 12 minutes, but the Broncos’ penalty kill was superb in killing each one.
“When we played them last Saturday, (the game) was really physical,” said Rouleau. “I think our girls remembered that and they came out and played the same way. You have to gauge the refs and how they’re calling the game and we didn’t do a good job of that.”
For the second straight game, the Broncos outshot the Rams, this time by a 3-to-1 ratio (36-12). But La Salle goalie Holly Scott was up to the challenge and turned away 32 of the 35 shots she faced.
The Broncos’ netminder, sophomore Brittney Bebeau, didn’t have as many quality saves as Scott, but Bebeau ended up with a dozen to earn her fourth shutout of the season.
Bebeau also turned in the stop of the night with 5:45 to go in the game on a partial breakaway by Lauren Abbenante, the state’s leading goal scorer with 23.
Abbenante netted a hat trick in last weekend’s loss to the Broncos, but this time around, the Broncos put the clamps on her defensively and saw Sam Roberts do an excellent job shadowing her for most of the game.
“She’s very good,” Rouleau said of Abbenante. “We kept a player on her all game and you can tell she was getting frustrated. We don’t play a lot of that, but sometimes you have to do those type of things. You want to stop the No. 1 goal scorer and she didn’t score any goals tonight.”
Offensively, Couture continued her solid junior season with a pair of goals, her 13th and 14th of the season. Koprusak added a goal and a pair of assists, boosting her state-leading total in helpers to 18, and Nadeau netted her 12th goal of the season and contributed an assist.
The Broncos clearly had their problems staying out of the sin bin in the first period, but after they managed to kill off four penalties, the locals broke on the board with 54 seconds to play on an unassisted score by Koprusak, who batted in a puck that Scott juggled with her glove near the side of the net.
Couture made it 2-0 7:31 into the second period off a pass by Koprusak that she quickly dished off after winning a faceoff in La Salle’s end, and Nadeau scored 2:12 into the third period by reeling in a long pass from Koprusak at the blue line, breaking in alone on Scott, and beating her with a wristshot.
With 3:17 to play and La Salle on a power play, they pulled Scott for a sixth skater, but after the Broncos killed off that penalty, they put an exclamation point on their victory with 1:24 to play on an empty-net goal by Couture.
Burrillville/Ponaganset 1 - 1 - 2 -- 4
La Salle Academy 0 - 0 - 0 -- 0
First period: B/P -- Kelsey Koprusak (unassisted), power play, 11:06. Penalties: B/P -- 4-6; LS -- 1-1.5.
Second period: B/P -- Katie Couture (Kelsey Koprusak), 7:31. Penalties: B/P -- 2-3; LS -- 1-1.5.
Third period: B/P -- Kerri Nadeau (Kelsey Koprusak), 2:12; B/P -- Katie Couture (Kerri Nadeau), empty net, 13:36. Penalties: B/P -- 2-3; LS -- 1-1.5.
Shots on goal: Burrillville/Ponaganset 36, La Salle 12. Goalie saves: B/P -- Brittney Bebeau (12 saves); LS -- Holly Scott (32 saves).