WEST WARWICK --- In a season full of lopsided victories, Friday night’s showdown at the West Warwick Civic Center with longtime rival Bay View was a welcomed sight for Mount St. Charles.
And so was the end result, a 3-2 win by the defending state champions that saw them dominate play for most of the contest, play excellent defense, and remain perfect in a dozen games.
Samantha Smith’s power-play goal with 46 seconds left in the second period turned out to be the difference in the game for the winners, who outshot the Bengals by better than a 2-to-1 ratio, yet needed to hold them off in the final minutes after they made it a one-goal game with 2:57 left in the game.
“The kids were absolutely looking forward to this game,” added MSC coach Steve Shea, whose crew has outscored their opponents by a 63-7 margin this season. “It was a lot of fun to play, and obviously, (Bay View) is very good competition for us.
“But I thought the kids played very, very well. All the lines contributed and skated hard, (freshman goalie) Sarah (Erban) had a big game for us in goal, and our defense played very well.”
The Mounties entered the game determined to pepper Bay View goalie Ana Procaccini with a barrage of shots, and while they finished with 26, they had more than plenty that also just missed their mark.
“We stole our game plan today from baseball,” Shea remarked. “We wanted to pound the strike zone. That means we wanted to be tough in the offensive zone, keep coming at them, and more importantly, get shots on goal.
“We wanted to pound the strike zone, and for us, that 6-foot-by-4 rectangle was the strike zone.”
The Bengals, who lost to the Mounties in last season’s state championship series, were handcuffed to a season-low 12 shots on Erban, yet managed to get their goals off the stick of their leading scorer, junior center Alexandra Briody, who leads the team with eight.
This game was your typical Mount St. Charles vs. Bay View showdown -- a tight defensive duel from start to finish with very little scoring and shots on goal and even less mistakes by either side.
It was also a rematch of their Dec. 11 clash at Adelard Arena, a 2-0 triumph by the Mounties that saw them also rule Bay View for the bulk of the night and outshoot them, 26-14.
And as they did in that meeting, the Mounties struck in the first two minutes of the game, for at 1:57, BriAnna Naradowy took a pass from Briana Castro and fired a shot in front of the goal that zipped through a pair of defensemen and beat Procaccini, who was screened on the play.
Despite taking just six more shots the rest of the period, the Mounties ruled the Bengals for most of the remaining 10 minutes and limited them to just four shots on Erban.
“We got off to a little bit of a slow start in the first couple of shifts,” added Shea, “but once we got some momentum, I thought we started to control the game.”
The Mounties then doubled their lead 32 seconds into the second period on a goal by Alisha Sleboda that she scored by pouncing on the rebound of a shot by MaryKate Stimpson.
The Bengals again found shots hard to come by in the period, but with 1:51 to play, they cut their deficit in half on a 5-on-3 power play that was seconds away from expiring. Briody did the honors by slipping a low shot in the slot past the right pad of Erban.
But the Mounties got their two-goal advantage back with 46 seconds to play in the period on Smith’s goal that was set up by Erin Rouleau and Sleboda.
“The 5-on-3 power play took a little bit of our momentum away,” admitted Shea. “We almost got away with that, and even though they caught us right at the very end of it, we answered right back.”
Bay View then made it a 3-2 contest on Brody’s second score, which came when she squirmed free on a partial breakaway after an MSC defenseman fell down while trying to defend her.
The Bengals eventually pulled Procaccini for a sixth attacker with a little more than a minute to play, but they were unable to generate a quality shot on Erban.
The Mounties, who are quietly seeking their first undefeated regular season since their 8-0 showing in the state’s inaugural season nine years ago, have four games remaining on their schedule.
The toughest game of the bunch may be the last one, their Sept. 25 battle in Smithfield against the Burrillville/Ponaganset co-op squad, which currently sits in second place with an 8-2 mark.
“I’m sure they have it circled on their calendar,” offered Shea, whose team takes on the Barrington/Mount Hope co-op team tonight at 7 at URI’s Boss Arena. “They actually gave us the best game of the season so far, so we’re very much looking forward to that game.”
Mount St. Charles 1 - 2 - 0 -- 3
Bay View Academy 0 - 1 - 1 -- 2
First period: MSC -- BriAnna Naradowy (Briana Castro, Meredith Peppes), 1:57.
Second period: MSC -- Alisha Sleboda (MaryKate Stimpson), :32; BV -- Alexandra Briody (Caroline Bennett), power play, 13:09; MSC -- Samantha Smith (Erin Rouleau, Alisha Sleboda), power play, 11:14. Penalties: MSC, 3-4.5; BV -- 3-4.5.
Third period: BV -- Alexandra Broody (Georgianna Gouin), 9:03. Penalties: MSC, 1-1.5; BV, 1-1.5.
Shots on goal: Mount St. Charles 26, Bay View 12. Goalie saves: MSC -- Sarah Erban (10 saves); BV -- Ana Procaccini (23 saves).