WOONSOCKET — This wasn’t the senior season Mount St. Charles winger Alex Pratt envisioned.
The Mountie was hoping to spend his senior year playing with Division I signees and NHL Draft prospects on the Mount St. Charles Hockey Academy U18 squad, but when playing time started to dry up in October and November, Pratt knew it was time to change his plans.
Pratt, along with Chris Baxter, rejoined the Mount RIIL team in December, but had to sit out the first seven games because of RIIL transfer rules. After a slow start to his time back with the Mounties, Pratt finally had his breakout game Friday night against Blackstone Valley rival Burrillville at Adelard Arena.
The senior scored a pair of short-handed goals and he had two even-strength goals to finish the night with a career-high four goals and an assist. Senior center John Belisle added four assists, while junior forward Matt Badeau added a pair of goals in a 10-2 Division I rout.
“It took a little bit to get my confidence back,” Pratt said. “A lot of frustration set in at the beginning, but I’ve been trying to keep my cool in practice and figure out what works and what doesn’t work. I’m just trying to get the feel for the game again. It’s been about making little adjustments and tonight I feel like me [Nolan] Boucher and [Matt] Mahoney gelled well. We were moving the puck well and it was just easy tonight.”
“He’s worked really hard to integrate into the different style and the different players,” Mount coach Matt Merten said. “Each year it’s a little different, so it wasn’t the same as it was last year. We were waiting to see this from him and tonight and he made some great moves and had some great shots.”
Burrillville (4-7-1 Division I) appeared to be in good shape to earn the No. 4 seed after smashing Smithfield 7-1 last Friday night. Since that victory, however, the Broncos have been outscored 21-4 in three straight defeats, including league losses to Prout/Scituate co-op and the Mounties.
The Broncos, who received second-period goals from defenseman Ben Andersen and junior forward Ryan Boutiette, know a victory next week at Boss Arena against the Crusaders is a must if they want to avoid facing a private school in the first round of the playoffs.
“There were spurts where we weren’t playing dumb hockey, but those times we few and far between against a good team like that,” Burrillville coach David Farrell said. “Since the Smithfield game we’ve gotten away from the details and we’ve gotten away from the compete that we had. The emotion we had in that game, we just came out flat against Prout and flat against Dartmouth (Mass.). I don’t think we were flat tonight, I’m just surprised we didn’t play smarter in the defensive zone.”
Mount St. Charles (9-3 Division I) remains in position to earn a bye into the state semifinals. The Mounties won’t leave Adelard Arena for the final week of the season because the Crusaders come to town on Tuesday and then Hendricken visits with second place on the line Friday night at 8:30.
The Mounties, who were coming off a 4-1 defeat to Massachusetts power St. John’s Prep, dominated the first period and took advantage of Burrillville defensive mistakes to score all the goals they would need. CeeJay Laquerre, the star of the previous meeting at Levy, opened the scoring when he beat senior goalie Dylan Nault with a rip from a tight angle in the right circle at 5:14 of the opening period.
Burrillville’s power play, which has been an issue in each of the last two seasons, proved to be a major problem Friday, as the Mounties killed off three penalties and scored three short-handed goals. The first came via Pratt at 10:02.
Badeau, who was wearing Trey Bourque’s number six with the senior out with an illness, made it 3-0 at the end of the first.
The Broncos were the better team early in the second period and cut the deficit to two when freshman Jack Farrell found Andersen for a goal at 2:08, but Pratt answered 1:28 later when he played a give-and-go with Boucher and ripped a shot from the right circle that chased Nault. It was a shot he picked up from UMass commit and Hockey Academy U18 standout Michael Citara.
“I liked the give-and-go with Boucher a lot,” Pratt said. “I just saw an open net and shot it and it went in. Mike taught me some tips on that.”
After Belisle fed senior Bryan Testa for a goal, the Broncos made it 5-2 on a great solo effort by Boutiette. The Broncos were then handed a power play, but instead of putting more pressure on Mount, but they turned the puck over and Pratt raced in alone on reserve goalie Cam Ducharme to finish off his hat trick.
“Three short-handed goals is outstanding,” Merten said. “That’s about keeping the tempo and not having letdowns. In that period we were getting so overzealous in the offensive zone that they were leaking a guy behind us and we were giving up odd-man rushes. We needed to tighten up to finish up strong.”
Pratt scored again at 14:28 before the Mounties buried the Broncos in the third period. Chris Baxter and Mahoney scored power-play goals and Badeau, who scored a goal against St. John’s Prep, finished the scoring with a short-handed goal.
“At this point we’ve done all the messaging we can do, they have to pull it together and figure out a way to beat Prout and see what happens from there,” Farrell said.
Follow Branden Mello on Twitter @Branden_Mello
Burrillville 0 2 0 – 2
Mount St. Charles 3 4 3 – 10
First period – MSC, CeeJay Laquerre (Bryan Testa, John Belisle, Pratt), 5:14; MSC, Pratt (Matt Mahoney), sh, 10:02; MSC, Matt Badeau (Josh Mills, Nick Curran), 13:40.
Second period – B, Ben Andersen (Jack Farrell, Jacob Leclerc), 2:08; MSC, Pratt (Nolan Boucher, Everett Misto), 3:36; MSC, Testa (Belisle, Brendan Donahue), 5:34; B, Ryan Boutiette (Mitchell Farrell), 10:01; MSC, Pratt (unassisted), sh, 13:18; MSC, Pratt (Edward Mulligan, Belisle), 14:28.
Third period – MSC, Chris Baxter (Belisle), pp, 3:31; MSC, Mahoney (Boucher,Jacob Maddalena), pp, 6:37; MSC, Badeau (Boucher), sh, 12:23.
Follow Branden Mello on Twitter @Branden_Mello