PROVIDENCE — Someone forgot to tell Mount St. Charles and La Salle that Tuesday night’s game at Providence College’s Schneider Arena was a benefit non-league affair, not Game 3 of the best-of-three state championship series.
Like their first two Division I meetings of the season, the Mounties and Rams engaged in a fast-paced, tight-checking duel that entertained a large gathering of fans on hand.
But like those first two games, La Salle was able to skate away with a close, hard-fought victory.
Steve Rocchio’s unassisted goal with 5:23 to play in the contest turned out to be the difference in a 3-2 triumph by the Rams in their Christopher R. Brooks Scholarship Foundation charity game.
Mount co-captains Brian Campbell and Ben Handanyan produced goals in the first 7:05 of the last period to erase a 2-0 deficit, but La Salle was able to eke out the ‘W’ on Rocchio’s late goal and some timely stops by goaltender Tyler Walsh (20 saves), especially in the game’s final minute.
The Mounties were coming off a 3-1 win over Cranston West that saw them outshoot the Falcons by a 63-25 margin, but have just a few goals to show for their efforts, and on Monday, their offensive woes continued.
“Everyone’s saying, ‘What’s wrong with the Mount?’” said MSC coach Dave Belisle afterwards. “There’s nothing wrong with the Mount. We just can’t get the bounces, and right now, we can’t put the puck in the net. But we will put the puck in the net. They’re going to go in.”
To add to the Mounties’ frustration was the fact that they clanged a crossbar near the end of the first period and a post at the start of the second, and they also handcuffed the Rams to just eight shots in the contest.
“From the first time we played them, when they fired 40 shots on us, to today, when they got them down to eight, as a coach, that’s all you can ask for,” said Belisle, whose squad had dropped a 3-1 decision to the Rams in their Dec. 2 season opener and a 3-2 overtime verdict in their rematch eight nights later.
Both teams went the first 6:38 of play before either could take a shot. Mount took the game’s first three before La Salle got off its first clean shot on goalie Brian Larence 10:39 into the contest.
There was only one other shot taken in that period, and unfortunately for the Mounties, it resulted in a shorthanded, unassisted goal by La Salle co-captain Dan Lucchetti with 44 seconds on the clock.
A turnover by the Mounties near center ice resulted in Lucchetti’s goal, as he gathered the puck, skated in alone on Larence, and beat him with a wristshot that sailed over his right shoulder.
The Rams doubled their lead 3:45 into the second period by making good on their fourth shot of the game, as Ben Abbatematteo scored off Matt Botieri’s pass from behind the net.
But the Mounties finally broke through in the last period when Campbell was able to flip home a pass from Ryan Berard past Walsh.
Mount then tied the contest with 7:55 on the clock when Handanyan buried a rebound from the side of the net, but 2½ minutes later, and just seconds after killing off a power play, the Rams took the lead on Rocchio’s goal.
The Mounties had their chances to net the equalizer in the remaining minutes, especially when they had a pair of power-play opportunities to work with, but they couldn’t capitalize on the man advantage.
The Mounties return to their Division I slate on Saturday with a 9 p.m. game at Adelard Arena against Barrington, but the following Friday, the four-time defending champs have a featured 9:30 p.m. matchup at Thayer Arena against unbeaten Bishop Hendricken.
After their matchup with the Hawks (8-0-1), the Mounties (8-5 overall, 4-4 in league action) will renew acquaintances with the second-place Rams (6-3-1) the following night at 9 p.m. at Adelard.
Notes: Mount defenseman Keith Phaneuf and La Salle goalie Chris Ryan were the recipents of the Christopher Brooks Memorial Seventh Player Awards given out during a post-game ceremony. … Rene Rancourt, who has sung the U.S. and Canadian national anthems at Boston Bruins home games for 35 years, was on hand to sing both anthems.