NORTH SMITHFIELD –Mount St. Charles didn’t need any extra time to settle the issue on this particular night.
A dominating first period gave the Mounties all the offense they would need on Friday as they swept North Smithfield in their best-of-3 Division I semifinal series with a 5-2 victory at the R.I. Sports Center. Samantha Smith and Erin Rouleau each scored and had an assist as the defending state champions return to familiar territory.
The win earns Mount and date in the finals this Wednesday at Schneider Arena where it will face last year’s runner-up Bay View Academy. The Bengals swept their series last night by defeating Burrillville/Ponaganset Co-op, 3-0.
Mount will be shooting for its sixth title in the nine-year history of the league.
“It feels really good,” said first-year MSC coach Steve Shea. “We are really happy. We said to the girls we are going to the Big Show…The girls just lit up and screamed. To go there and be the premier showcase of hockey, it’s great to get back there.”
The Mounties and Northmen were back on the ice just 24 hours after a thrilling opener in which MSC survived a 3-2 verdict at Adelard Arena, winning the game on a shootout. But it was the much-deeper Mounties that proved to have the fresher legs when the game began on Friday. Mount took command right from the start, attacking the net by firing a half-dozen shots at N.S. goalie Britney Evangelista in the first few minutes.
The freshman did a good job in thwarting off the Mounties initial flurry, but with 6:29 remaining in the period Smith gave her teammates a 1-0 lead when she got the puck near the left of the crease and flicked a shot that ricochet off the right bar and into the back of the net.
The defending champions took a 2-0 advantage into the second period on a nice bit of passing from Smith and Rouleau. Rouleau skated down from just past the blue line, flicked it over to Smith on the left side. Smith then quickly sent the puck back to Rouleau, who unleashed a hard shot from near the circles that went to the right side of the cage at 9:19.
North Smithfield's only legitimate scoring opportunity came with 4:22 left when senior Kayla Kiernan unleashed a slap shot from beyond the circles that MSC goalie Sara Erban made a nice glove save.
The Mounties out-shot the Northmen, 13-4, in the initial period.
“I thought the first period was the key to the game,” Shea said. “The line that scored the goals in the line we call the White Line. Our White Line has two seniors on it. I put the burden on the seniors and said you guys got to carry it. They did a great, great job.”
North Smithfield came back in the second period, cutting the deficit in half when Kiernan scored the lone goal with 2:41 remaining. The Mounties finished the deal with Caitlin Shea, Lauren Levesque and BriAnna Naradowy all finding the net in the third period.
N.S. coach Bill Nangle admitted the first period was crucial in the outcome.
“It was,” he said. “They were tough to handle right from the first drop of the puck. We just couldn’t get our feet under us quick enough. I was proud of our kids at that point. They battled back to get a goal to make it 2-1. I thought we had a little life in us at that point. But they just kept coming back at us. My hat goes off to them. They are an awesome team. They are a firepower. They just keep coming at you. They just keep coming.”
“We skate pretty much a line and a half,” he continued. “It’s tough to come back two nights in a row and play as hard as we did (Thursday) night. We knew it was going to be easy, but Mount is just an awesome team. They just keep throwing it at you.”
Mount 2-0-3 - 5
North Smithfield 0-1-0 - 1
First period – 1. MSC, Samantha Smith (Meredith Peppes, Erin Rouleau) 6:29; 2. MSC, Rouleau (Smith, Alisha Sleboda) 9:19. Penalties – MSC, 1-2.
Second period – 3, Kayla Keirnan (Jess Salisbury) 2:41. Penalties – NS, 1-2. MSC, 3-6.
Third period – 4. MSC, Caitlin Shea (unassisted) 3:47; 4. MSC, Lauren Levesque (Shea, Allison Shea) 9:12; 5. MSC, BriAnna Narodowy (Cassandra Czarin) 13:35.
Saves – MSC, Sarah Erban 15. NS, Britney Evangelista 27.
Shots – MSC 32. NS 16.