WOONSOCKET — It wasn't so much the fact that Mount St. Charles dropped a 4-0 decision to defending state Division I champion Hendricken that irked head coach Dave Belisle to such a degree, but how.
The Mounties trailed the Hawks by a mere 1-0 count as the final seconds of the middle period drew to a close at Adelard Arena on Saturday night. The way Belisle figured it, all his guys needed to do was get into the locker room unscathed, then regroup, make adjustments and continue to storm the visitors' goalkeeper, senior Mitchell Proulx.
It never happened. Hendricken manufactured two goals in the span of 18 seconds – the last with only 12.7 ticks remaining in the second – to cushion its lead to 3-0. It eventually romped to a 4-0 win, one that improved its overall mark to 7-1 and league record to a perfect 5-0.
“We came out with incredible energy, but couldn't score,” he said after MSC fell to 3-4 overall and 1-1 in divisional play. “We played a period and three-quarters of traditional Mount hockey, but then it all fell apart.”
Junior forward Andrew Fera, who had notched his first tally on a wrist shot off of junior netminder Brian Larence's right skate with 6:25 remaining in the opening session, somehow slid another wrister under the keeper with 30.7 seconds left in the second.
At the 12.7 mark, sophomore Matthew Creamer took a pass from senior co-captain Eddie Markowski inside the right circle and knocked that home to give the Hawks what proved to be an insurmountable 3-0 cushion.
That first tally by Fera, on a feed from Creamer, came on only Hendricken's fourth attempt of the contest. Belisle's bunch had outshot its foe, 14-3, before it.
“They scored that goal in the first, and that was a shot that Brian should've had; he overplayed the pass, and it went between his pads,” Belisle stated later. “But then we gave up those two goals. We had played a great game up to that point, and the momentum just turned. It couldn't have happened at a worse time, at the end of a period.
“I didn't think we played well in the third,” he added. “We seemed defeated, and that's the part that was so upsetting to me. We gave up those late goals in the second, and they seemed to be defeated, but I've always told them you've got to play every shift. Times like this are tough. We need our captain to step up and take the lead, but he's not with us right now.”
Belisle had been referring to his son, senior forward Brian Belisle, who suffered a concussion late in the second period of the Mount's inaugural game against Cranston West, and hasn't played since. Likewise, fellow senior Daniel Glod wasn't in uniform, as he had to serve a one-game suspension after an infraction in MSC's previous tilt.
The good news, the elder Belisle said, was he expects his son to be back within two weeks. Glod will return next Friday.
“They're our top two goal scorers,” Dave Belisle noted. “We need to have them back. You know, we lost the final game of our (holiday) tournament to La Salle College (Pa.) High, 5-0, and now we lose to Hendricken, 4-0. We've given up nine goals – unanswered – in our last two.
“I told the kids after, I can't remember the last time that's happened to Mount,” he added. “I can tell you it didn't to my father (legendary mentor Bill). I also said that we need to grow, but we're not growing.”
Larence had seemed to be on top of his game after allowing Fera's first score. In fact, just 14 seconds into the second, Markowski ripped a wrist shot at him from the slot, but he made a terrific kick save.
Just 2:11 later, after Mounties' senior Keegan O'Leary's rope from the top of the left circle was kicked away by Proulx, Hawks' freshman Jamie Armstrong and classmate Reilly Miller drove backhands at Larence, though he sprawled to make superb stops.
With only 1:25 left in the period, it appeared MSC had tied it up when junior Tyler Scroggins poked a quick wrist shot at Proulx, but he deflected the try away.
Less than a minute later, Fera notched his second, and that started the quick mini-barrage. Freshman Brandon Waterman registered Hendricken's final goal, courtesy of a feed from Armstrong, when he flipped a backhand off of Larence's pads only 2:57 into the final session.
All told, Mount outshot its foe, 44-31, but Proulx stopped each and every delivery. Larence finished with 27 saves.
“I liked the way we played,” claimed head coach Jim Creamer. “I knew Mount would come out and play hard, but we got those timely goals. That was a huge change in momentum. Early on, we were back on our heels, and they came out really strong, while we weren't as strong as I thought we'd be. I thought our defense and goalie did a good job hanging in there until we scored the first goal.