PROVIDENCE — The drive for five ran out of gas.
Mount St. Charles’s bid for a fifth straight state crown and 43rd in its storied history came up short on Monday night in Game 3 of its best-of-three State Championship series with Bishop Hendricken.
The Hawks, who had lost to the Mounties in three of the last four title series, were finally able to take home a championship at their rival’s expense before a full house at Providence College’s Schneider Arena by grabbing a 5-2 win.
Paul Filippone scored a pair of goals to lead the Hawks offensively, while on defense, goalie Bill Palmer only finished with 19 saves, but had some huge stops near the end of the second period to help the Hawks protect a two-goal command and eventually earn the MVP honors of the series.
Palmer’s counterpart, Mount goalie Brian Larence, who played superbly in the Mount’s 3-2 Game 2 victory on Saturday, had 20 saves, but gave up four goals on the first 15 shots he faced. That helped the winners claim a 4-1 lead just minutes into the middle period and a firm grasp of the contest.
While those were some keys to the game, MSC coach Dave Belisle offered another reason why the Hawks were able to win the third state title in their program’s history and his team bused home to Woonsocket empty handed.
“They physically banged us around and wore us right down, and that was the difference in the game,” he said before quickly heading into the locker room after the post-game awards ceremony. “I give them all the credit.”
The Mounties, to their defense, were playing in their sixth playoff contest in the last 11 days, three of which went to overtime. They enjoyed a day off on Sunday, but still showed some signs of wear and tear as they took the ice for their winner-take-all showdown.
“The kids just ran out of gas,” added Belisle. “They played too many tough games to get to this point.”
The Hawks got off to a strong start and ruled the first nine-plus minutes of this game, unleashing 10 of the game’s first 11 shots, but then the Mounties took over and peppered Palmer with seven straight shots of their own.
Hendricken then scored on its very next shot, for with 3:34 left in the period, Filippone took a sharp pass from Dave Mitchell and ripped a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle that sailed over Larence’s right shoulder.
A little more than a minute later, the Mounties knotted the score on just the second goal of the season from sophomore Tim Allen, who backhanded the rebound of a shot by Steve Donahue through Palmer’s pads.
But 90 seconds later, the Hawks reclaimed the lead on an unassisted goal by Mitchell that came off a turnover at the Mounties’ blue line, Mitchell skated in alone on Larence and beat him with a shot over his glove.
And things started to go from bad to worse for Mount in the second period.
The Hawks, who scored on two of their first three shots, made good on their first one at 1:31 when Filippone scored on a 2-on-1 break with Mitchell and unleashed a shot from the shot that Larence had little chance at stopping.
Forty-three seconds later, the Hawks made it a three-goal game when Justin Finan backhanded the rebound of a shot by Bob Buehrer.
“There’s no question that it was important for us to get the lead tonight,” said Belisle. “There’s only so many times you can come back after being down and we’ve overcome that for a while.”
The Mounties went more than 5½ minutes before they took their first shot of the period, but when they did, they lit the lamp to trim their deficit to a pair, as Nick Bennett rifled a long slap shot past Palmer 5:53 into the period.
The Mounties continued to apply pressure on the Hawks’ goal, but Palmer turned away their final nine shots of the period.
But in the third period, the Hawks tightened up on defense and limited the Mounties to just one shot on goal.
The Mounties’ best chance to score in the third period came with 6:20 to go and on a 5-on-3 power play that lasted 52 seconds, but they were unable to take a shot on net.
The Hawks soon ended any drama to the game with 49.8 seconds to go when Matt Creamer flipped in an empty-net goal that sent the Hendricken student body seated near the net into a wild frenzy.