SMITHFIELD — Mount St. Charles received a nice double treat on Saturday night.
The top-seeded defending champs wrapped up a best-of-three series Division I quarterfinal-round sweep of eight-seeded Smithfield High on Saturday night by cruising to a 4-1 score before a large gathering at the Smithfield Ice Rink.
But most of the fans on hand were present to see legendary coach Bill Belisle land the 900th victory of his remarkable career, and when the Mounties rolled to a 4-1 lead after two periods and controlled the final 15 minutes of play, all everyone could do was count down the minutes to the amazing milestone.
While the Mounties and their coaches headed back to their locker room after shaking hands with the Sentinels, Belisle, who is the country’s all-time leader in victories by a high school hockey coach, stopped to talk to a TV reporter in the corner of the rink.
When he finished his interview, he continued his walk to the locker room and was greeted by several fans, friends, family members, ex-players, and alumni who waited for him in the hallway.
When co-captains Trevor Plante and Zach Samborsky greeted him with a big white sign that congratulated Belisle on his achievement, the longtime coach was unable to control his emotions. He buried his face in his hands and was soon mobbed by the rest of his players, who seemed to be more overjoyed over his achievement than they were about the sweep.
“It’s unbelievable,” offered Belisle. “It’s hard to believe. Nine hundred wins. Wow! This goes way back, 36 years ago, and a lot of people are part of this. Mount pride. It’s Mount pride, and I’m proud of this program and the people who have been a part of it.”
“I’m extremely proud of my father,” remarked co-coach Dave Belisle. “He’s been an icon in Rhode Island for years and I couldn’t be prouder. When he’s coaching, he’s ‘Coach‘, but when he’s off the ice, he’s my father, and I’m telling you as a son, he’s a special guy. He really, really is.
“He has never said anything negative toward another team, and he’s always been very respectful to opponents and referees. He’s always been a very fair coach, and he’s always brought class to Mount St. Charles. And he’s a good man, and to get 900 wins and be a really good man, a well-respected man, I think that’s the special part about him.”
As for the game, a physical duel from start to finish, Samborsky scored twice and added an assist, Plante netted the game’s first goal just 33 seconds into play, and Ryan Berard also found the back of the net late in the second period to give MSC its three-goal lead.
The Mounties (18-1-1) will await their opponent in next weekend’s semifinal round, which is expected to be either fourth-seeded La Salle Academy, which handed them their lone loss of the winter, or fifth-seeded Cranston West High, which gave them fits in their two regular-season meetings.
“It goes up a few notches after this,” admitted Dave Belisle. “We played hard tonight and we got hit hard tonight. It was a tough physical series for us and it should get us ready for the next one.”
Mount St. Charles 2 - 2 - 0 -- 4
Smithfield 1 - 0 - 0 -- 1
First period: MSC -- Trevor Plante (Zach Samborsky, Mike Magerman), :33; MSC -- Zach Samborsky (Brian Belisle), 6:15; S -- Ryan Malloy (unassisted), 8:42.
Second period: MSC -- Zach Samborsky (Trevor Plante), 2:50; MSC -- Ryan Berard (unassisted), 13:58.
Third period: No scoring.
Shots on goal: Mount St. Charles 45, Smithfield 23. Goalie saves: MSC -- Dan Foster (22 saves); S -- Kevin Reall (14 saves), Matt Mattson (27 saves).