WOONSOCKET — Woonsocket High has a new coach and a new outlook for the hockey season this winter.
Getting to the point where it can be competitive again with the teams in Division III, just may take a little time.
The Villa Novans began their league season Friday night against Cranston East. For more than two-thirds of the opening period, Woonsocket kept the Thunderbolts away from the net.
Then the floodgates opened up.
Cranston East scored four times in the final three minutes of the first period and continued its momentum the rest of the way in an eventual 16-0 rout of Woonsocket at Adelard Arena. Junior Tom Omara netted a hat trick with three assists and senior Bob Kuczek scored three goals and had a trio of assists for the Thunderbolts, who out-scored the Novans by an alarming 80-5 margin.
Cranston East dominated the first period, taking 33 shots as opposed to 1 by Woonsocket. The Villa Novans managed to keep the Thunderbolts away from the scoreboard for a good portion of the period, particularly because of the steady net-minding of junior Ian Provencal.
But the Thunderbolts turned things around in a hurry in the closing minutes, scoring four times in the final 3:13 of the period. Omara sparked the late rally with a pair of goals and an assist.
“We basically skated with them at the beginning,” said first-year coach Nathan Arruda. “They just out-conditioned and out-hustled us from there.”
Cranston East didn’t let up in the second half, scoring twice in the first 1:24 of the period. The Thunderbolts built a 9-0 advantage before the Zamboni came out to clear the ice for the third period.
Omara continued his scoring barrage by adding two more goals to begin the third in a quick nine-second span.
The only surprise in the game after that was the fact that Cranston East continued to keep some of its top players in the game until there was just a few minutes left.
“He (Cranston East coach PJ Bessette) told me he was going to hold back when they were up (9-0),” Arruda said. “He should have held the dogs off a little. I didn’t see him put in his weaker skaters.”
Woonsocket comes into this season after finishing last in the division in 2010-11 with a 1-15 record. The Villa Novans have 18 players for their upcoming winter campaign with just three seniors.
Woonsocket will have another tough task tonight when it plays defending state champion Johnston/North Providence co-op at the Smithfield Rink.
“I just told the kids to stay positive,” Arruda said. “It’s just the first game. We are going to have to fix some things. We just have to take it one game at a time. Things are going to happen. I just want to see them improve and have some fun.”