WARWICK — Andrew Etheridge has had his share of superb performances during his brilliant high school career at Burrillville, but the one he produced on Monday afternoon may have been his very best.
With his Broncos trailing 1-0 to last-place North Kingstown after a period of play, the senior co-captain put his team on his shoulders and responded with five straight goals.
Etheridge eventually ended the contest with a sixth goal to help the playoff-bound Broncos skate to an 8-2 triumph at Thayer Arena and the 11th victory in their last 12 games.
The Broncos, who are 12-5 in Division I and possess an 11-game win streak against the division’s public-school teams, received a natural hat trick from Etheridge to claim a two-goal lead at the end of two periods and control of this game.
Etheridge then netted his fourth and fifth goals in the first 6½ minutes of the third period, and after the Skippers (1-15) scored their second goal at 8:26, the Broncos squeezed out goals from Etheridge, Zachary Keach, and senior co-captain Pat Callahan during a 53-second span.
“I’ve never had a high school game like this,” remarked Etheridge, whose 17 goals this regular season are the most by a Burrillville player in six seasons. “I’ve been in a slump for the past three or four games, so it was good to have a game like this.”
“He’s determined to make this team go places this year,” added Burrillville coach Steve Daigle. “He just took it upon himself today. And he didn’t score any garbage goals or open-net goals, Andrew made those goals happen and he showed some character.”
Burrillville goalie Jacob Toback, who finished the game with just 14 saves, made some big ones after the Skippers took advantage of the Broncos’ slow start and broke on the board with 1:57 to play in the first period.
“Ever since we beat Moses Brown, we haven’t been playing our game,” said Etheridge. “We had a tough week of practice last week and we played a very tough 3-2 game [against Cranston West] on Saturday night, and I don’t think we were fully mentally prepared for the start of this game.”
Freshman Chad Stone, the hero of the Broncos’ overtime win over Cranston West, also concluded the day with a pair of assists, and another ninth-grader, Nick Koprusak, got his first regular shift on defense and also received praise from Daigle.
Before the Broncos set their sights on the State Championship tournament, they have one regular-season game left, a 7:30 p.m. matchup at Levy Arena against a hungry Lincoln squad looking for a win or two this weekend that will help them earn a spot in the Division I playoffs.
“This weekend, we have to focus on Lincoln and just on Lincoln,” admitted Etheridge. “We don’t know who we’re playing against in the playoffs, but whoever it is, we’re going to be ready for them.”
Daigle agreed with his senior co-captain, and he also believes that his team still has to tend to a few concerns before they enter what promises to be a very competitive ‘second season’.
“Our biggest concern right now is team discipline as far as penalties go,” admitted Daigle. “Whoever we play, whether it’s Hendricken or Mount [St. Charles], we can’t take unnecessary penalties. Teams like that usually have a step on you, and you can’t afford to be undisciplined and take penalties.”