WARWICK -- Talk about deja vu!
For the second straight night, Mount St. Charles Academy found itself trailing by a 2-0 score in the early stages of its Division I semifinal-round game with La Salle Academy on Saturday.
For the second straight night, the Mounties shook off their rivals’ superb start and came back to knot the contest and force a 7½-minute overtime session.
And for the second straight night, the Mounties prevailed in OT.
Senior co-captain Trevor Plante wrapped up off arguably the biggest hat trick of his high school career by scoring with 7.6 seconds left in the period to lift the Mounties to a wild 4-3 win and a best-of-three series sweep of the Rams before a packed house at Thayer Arena.
That goal not only gave the Mounties their 16th straight postseason win (six of which were decided in overtime), it punched their ticket to the best-of-three Division I championship series that is slated to begin on Friday and continue on Saturday at Providence College’s Schneider Arena.
The top-seeded Mounties (20-1-1) will seek their fourth straight title and 42nd in the program’s history when they battle second-seeded Bishop Hendricken, which also swept its semifinal-round series by defeating third-seeded Moses Brown, 2-1, last night.
“That’s going to be another great series,” remarked MSC coach Dave Belisle. “They’re playing great hockey at the right time, so I expect pretty much what you saw (in this weekend’s series) with La Salle, another great series for the state championship.”
The Mounties not only trailed by two goals midway through the first period, they also found themselves down by a 3-2 score after two periods of action, despite carrying the play most of the time and outshooting the fourth-seeded Rams by a 25-8 margin.
Another thing that carried over from Friday night’s contest (a 3-2 win by the Mounties) was the excellent goaltending of La Salle sophomore Joe Noonan, who did his best to victimize the Mounties and ended up with 45 saves.
“We earned this,” offered Belisle. “We played a very good hockey team and an outstanding goaltender and defense, but I thought we played better tonight than we did last night and I’m proud of the team.”
Belisle was especially proud of Plante, who after he tied the duel at 3-3 with 10:05 to play in regulation by scoring off a rebound in front of the Rams’ net, won the game by beating Noonan on the back end of a nice 2-on-1 break with Shamus Maloney.
“Trevor was due for a game like this,” noted Belisle. “He’s scored goals here and there, but he was due for a big game and he came through.”
As they did in Friday night’s game, the Rams came out firing on all cylinders and scored a power-play goal less than two minutes into the game. This time, Tim Ryan did the honors at 2:58 by tapping in the rebound of his shot during a scramble for the puck in front of goaltender Dan Foster.
Then 3½ minutes later, Dan Lucchetti doubled the Rams’ lead on a goal that was assisted by Robert Fox, who fell down on a partial breakaway on Foster. Before Fox took a seat on the ice, he slipped a pass to Lucchetti, who trailed the play, and Lucchetti one-timed it past Foster.
“We were still down in the hole 2-0 again,” Belisle said with a smile. “Being away (down) 2-0 is a lot more difficult, but we fought back.”
The Mounties trimmed their deficit in half 2:51 into the middle period, and it was the same player who made it a one-goal game on Friday night that did it again last night -- Alex Erban -- as he flipped a nice pass from behind the net by Brian Campbell past Noonan.
The winners then tied the contest with 4:21 to go in the period when Plante scored off a pass by fellow co-captain Zach Samborsky, but the Rams untied it with 2:50 on the clock on an unassisted goal by Nate McDonald.
“I thought that goal late in the (second) period was going to come back and haunt us,” admitted Belisle. “But once I regrouped with the kids in the third period, I knew they would come out strong, and they did and tied it.”
Mount St. Charles 0 - 2 - 1 - 1 -- 4
La Salle Academy 2 - 1 - 0 - 0 -- 3
First period: LS -- Timothy Ryan (unassisted), power play, 2:58; LS -- Daniel Lucchetti (Robert Fox), 6:35. Penalties: M, 2-4.
Second period: M -- Alex Erban (Brian Campbell), 2:51; M -- Trevor Plante (Zachary Samborsky), 10:39; LS -- Nathan MacDonald (unassisted), 12:10. Penalties: M, 2-4; LS, 2-4.
Third period: M -- Trevor Plante (unassisted), 4:55. Penalties: None.
Overtime: M -- Trevor Plante (Shamus Maloney), 7:22.4. Penalties: None.
Shots on goal: Mount St. Charles 49, La Salle Academy 15. Goalie saves: M -- Dan Foster (12 saves); LS -- Joe Noonan (45 saves).