WOONSOCKET — When his team has a chance to veer away from its league schedule, these are the kind of games that Mount St. Charles coach Steve Shea prefers his players to face out on the rink.
The Mounties, currently battling La Salle Academy for the top spot in the standings, took on Duxbury High in a non-leaguer Monday night at Adelard Arena. The defending Division II state champions from Massachusetts utilized their depth and overall speed to skate to a 4-1 decision over the Mounties.
The Dragons scored two quick goals in the first period and held off a more-competitive Mount squad the final two to hang on to the victory.
Shea wouldn’t classify his talented opponent as necessarily better than the upper-echelon of teams his two-time defending R.I. titlist Mounties have contested against this winter, such as La Salle and Bay View, but it certainly was one that impressed him.
“They are a very good team. They have far more depth than the teams we typically face,” said Shea, making reference to the 23-player roster of the Dragons. “No matter what line went out there was good. He played a lot of people. They kept coming.”
The Dragons, who are undefeated in the Southeast Massachusetts Girls’ Hockey League (SEMGHL) and have lost minimal players from their 2011 champion squad, demonstrated their speed in the opening period, scored twice with still more than six minutes remaining in the rare 15-minute stanza. Colleen Leddie scored at 3:19 and then teammate Hannah Murphy netted the first of her two unassisted tallies at 8:23 off sophomore goalie Sarah Erban (32 saves).
The Dragons outshot the Mounties, 14-5, in the first period.
“They just caught us quickly,” Shea said. “We just didn’t have the puck in our zone too often. They just came on us pretty good. But we did have a lapse on that second goal, so it wasn’t as bad as it seemed.”
The Mounties held a two-shot differential (10-to-8) over Duxbury in the middle period and had their chances to cut at the deficit. Most of those opportunities came at the latter part of the period, including a pair of missed 2-on-1 situations.
The Dragons had the lone shot that mattered with Marissa Fichter scoring from just outside the crease at 3:22.
Mount was able to avoid the shutout just seven seconds into the final period when senior Allison Shea flicked the puck to the back of the net off a rebound on a slap shot by twin sister Caitlin Shea. The action came right off the opening faceoff.
“That was a mirror image of a goal we scored against Burrillville the first time we played them here,” said Steve Shea, about his Mounties, 7-0 win over Burrillville/Ponaganset co-op on Dec. 23. “Our center hit it forward. Our right wing carried it in and the left wing picked up the rebound. It gave us a little bit of energy and juice for a while, but it didn’t last long.”
A little more than 30 seconds after MSC sophomore Briana Castro was denied a perfect back-hander from the top of the crease on a brilliant save by sophomore netminder Rachel Myette (21 saves), Murphy made it 4-1 with another unassisted goal at 7:03.
“They were very strong physically,” Shea assessed. “We are a small team. We’re a pretty quick team, but we got to get into open ice for it to be to our advantage. They battled us up, although we were very happy (with our effort). We had a lot of chance, particularly the third period. We adjusted a little bit with our tempo and got some more shots, but we gave up goals too easy and we need to correct them.
Mount will be back at Adelard tonight when it takes on another non-league opponent in Bishop Guertin from Nashua, New Hampshire. The two teams saw each other at the beginning of the season in a scrimmage game.
“We won by a number of goals, but it was very early in the season,” Shea admitted. “We both played a lot of players. Their starting goalie was actually out. I am expecting it to be a good game.”
The Mount coach believes it will be business as usual when his players resume their league slate on Friday night versus Cranston co-op at Providence College’s Schneider Arena. La Salle presently occupies the No. 1 spot in the standings at 8-1-0. Mount is second at 7-1-0 and Barrington/Mount Hope/ Portsmouth co-op is 6-2-0. Perennial contender Bay View is currently sixth in the 11-team league at 4-2-0.
“It’s interesting because Bay View beat us, we beat La Salle and La Salle beat Bay View,” Shea said. “We got this triangle happening, and Burrillville is a good team, too. We got those four teams. Let’s see what happens. It will be fun.”