PROVIDENCE — As 1998 U. S. Olympic women’s hockey star and gold medallist Sara DeCosta draped runner-up medals around the necks of the Mount St. Charles’ girls, most wiped away tears.
Their disappointment was more than obvious after La Salle Academy had mustered a 2-0 victory over the Mounties at Providence College’s Schneider Arena on Tuesday night. With that triumph in this rubber game of the R.I. Championship Division Tournament’s best-of-three final set, the Rams had earned its first-ever title in the category, and closed its season at 16-5.
MSC had snared eight of the previous 11 state crowns at the top rung of the Rhode Island Interscholastic League’s girls’ hockey ladder (i.e. Championship Division), and desperately wanted to claim the ninth. Mounties’ head coach Steve Shea, after he addressed his troops in the locker room, stated, simply, “it just wasn’t our night.
“I told the girls it was a great hockey game,” Shea continued. “La Salle played great, and we did, too. We just didn’t quite get the kind of momentum we needed to get the job done.
“In the first game of the series, despite the 4-0 loss, we took it to them in the first period, and – in the second (contest) – we played a great second period (in a 2-1 win). I thought that’s what won the game for us. (On Tuesday) night, we just never got that big period, and that’s to La Salle’s credit.
“I just don’t think we played our best game, and that’s what we needed.”
After a scoreless initial two stanzas, Rams’ freshman Allison Bernier broke the deadlock just 2:43 into the third. She slipped the puck under MSC sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Erban to give La Salle what proved to be the game winner.
Senior quad-captain Jenna Pari assisted on the shot.
Just 18 seconds later, Migliori’s senior teammate, Sydney Galletly, was whistled for slashing, giving the Mounties their second power play of the game, but nothing came of it.
And, with 6:26 remaining in regulation, Migliori herself ended up in the box for a two-minute minor, and MSC senior quad-captain Caitlin Shea whipped a wrist shot from inside the right circle, but Rams’ senior netminder Holly Scott made a nifty right pad kick save to keep the Mounties off the board.
There were 87 seconds left on the scoreboard clock when senior defenseman Kaitlyn Croke stole the puck outside her own blue line, then ripped a wrister at Scott, who used the same pad to deflect the puck aside.
Migliori iced the tilt when she scored an empty-net goal – Shea had called his goalie, sophomore Sarah Erban, off the ice to give his squad a 6-on-5 advantage – with 46.6 ticks left.
Pari and freshman Meaghan Rickard assisted on that final tally.
“I thought they covered our points a little more (Tuesday night), so we weren’t able to get the shots from the outside,” Shea offered. “They covered those points better, and we couldn’t get the inside-out movement we needed.”
The nervous butterflies were obvious throughout the first stanza, as no shot on goal was recorded until the 4:28 mark. That’s when senior quad-captain Allison Shea drilled a wrist shot at Rams’ senior goalkeep Holly Scott, but she secured the puck to her sweater.
With 7:57 left in the period, MSC senior Lauren Deguire wobbled a shot at Scott, who made the save before the puck drifted away from her. One of her defenseman, however, poked the puck safely under her pads.
After that scoreless initial period, it seemed the Mounties had penetrated the net just 16 seconds into the second, but official Bruce Guindon blew his whistle prior to the puck entering.
With 12:15 left, Erban made a stellar, sprawling save on Migliori’s wrist shot, but the puck caromed to Galletly, and Erban smothered that offering.
On that same play, officials whistled MSC junior Alisha Sleboda for interference, and – with 8:48 remaining – they called senior MaryKate Stimpson for elbowing. La Salle, however, couldn’t take advantage of either; the Mounties killed both.
Shea’s crew looked as if it had gone on top for the first time with 5:57 left when Caitlin Shea (his daughter) whacked a point-blank backhand at Scott, but she made a terrific save.
At 2:09, sophomore Briana Castro stole the puck near mid-ice and fired a slap shot at Scott from inside the blue line, but the goalie – who captured the tournament’s Rev. Robert C. Newbold MVP laurel after registering her second shutout – again made a superb kick save.
Scott finished with 19 saves, Erban with 13. MSC’s winter ended at 19-4, while La Salle closed at 16-5.
“You know, we have a window at our main office, and every day the kid stop by to check their practice schedule,” Shea mentioned. “I also use that window to post notes as to how our girls played, in practice or in games. (Tuesday) morning, I wrote, ‘It’s been a great season, and I’m proud of each and every one of you – regardless of what happens tonight.’
“Like I said, it wasn’t our best game,” he added. “It just wasn’t our night.”