BURRILLVILLE — A day earlier, La Salle Academy and host Burrillville HIgh had no problems in their opening-round games of the Burrillville Education Foundation Tournament.
It was a different story in the championship finals Saturday night.
The two Division I schools played a back-and-forth affair for three periods inside the Levy Rink. Unfortunately for the Broncos, the Rams managed to squeeze in two shots between the posts and skate off the ice with a hard-earned 2-0 win.
The game was far different than the first time the squads met this season, a 5-1 regular-season decision in La Salle’s favor on Dec. 17.
“I can’t say enough,” said Burrillville coach Steve Daigle. “I thought our guys played the best game, moving the puck, playing position. Uur power play worked well. I don’t think they could have played much better. We just couldn’t put the puck in the net. It hit the post three or four times. We had some great opportunities.”
The two teams each fired eight shots in the initial period, but it was La Salle that capitalized on one of it opportunities. With 6:06 left, junior Jason Delisle scored from just outside the crease. The goal was an even-strength tally that came shortly after the Broncos had back-to-back penalties.
The Broncos finished with three penalties in the period and five for the game.
“Penalties have been a problem for us all year,” Daigle said. “Today’s penalties were not things I have to be upset about. Two of the penalties were stopping breakaways, which I’ll take those. If they’re from preventing a goal from being scored, you got to accept it.”
Burrillville’s only legitimate chance came with a few minutes left in the period on a close-ranger by Evan LaFond that sailed by the left post, just inches from making its way into the cage.
La Salle looked as though it took a 2-0 lead in the second period when a Rams’ player flicked in an apparent goal just past the midway point, but it was ruled a no-goal after La Salle’s Joseph Manown was penalized for holding a stick. The Broncos held the edge over the Rams in the period in terms of aggressiveness, but could never get the equalizer.
La Salle scored the insurance goal with less than four minutes remaining in the third period with senior Robert Fox firing in a shot from between the circles off an assist from teammates Bryan Lemos and Delisle. For the game, La Salle out-shot the Broncos by a slim 26-20 margin.
The Broncos currently lead the Eccleston Division with a 6-4-0 mark with second-place Smithfield close behind at 5-5-1. Yesterday’s verdict was the closest that Burrillville has come to defeating one of the private schools in the championship Cimini Division.
Daigle liked the fact that his Broncos never made it easy for the Rams, a team that sits in second place (6-3-1) in the top division and has beaten powerhouse Mount St. Charles three times this winter.
“The public school division, we have won pretty handily,” said the Burrillville coach. “Any game can be tough on any given night against those teams. We won 5-1 against Smithfield, 6-1 against (Cranston) West. We were really interested to see what we can do against La Salle. The first time they played us it was 5-1. I think we proved that we have come a long way since the first time that we played them. It wasn’t an easy (2-0) game for them. They were lucky to get out of here, 2-0.”
The game was held to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Burrillville hockey. Daigle was part of the rich tradition, playing from 1966-70.
“It was good seeing some guys that played in the 60s and complimenting us after the game,” Daigle said. “It felt really good that our guys played some gutsy Bronco hockey. We had a lot of compliments from some of the old-timers. It’s nice to show that the tradition is still going.”