The first-place Pilgrim boys hockey team gutted out a thrilling 7-5 win over visiting Johnston/North Providence/Tiverton last Friday night at the Thayer Arena.
After taking a 3-1 lead early in the first period, the Pats would surrender three goals in 4 minutes to trail 4-3 heading into the second.
Pilgrim would go on to score three consecutive goals of its own and lead 6-4 in the third period. However, Johnston/NP/Tiverton would add a score with 1:24 left to cut the deficit to one.
The Pats would hold on and add an empty-net goal with 6 seconds remaining to claim the win and maintain possession of first place in Division III.
“The mindset was to start the second period strong. If we didn’t start off strong in the second then the game would be over, they’re a good team and they are going to put in a few goals. It was back and forth the rest of the game, our mindset was to attack the net and let our goaltender do his thing,” said Pilgrim’s Sean Noel, who led the way with a hat trick. “It hits us, we try to win with our heart, between every period we see it as a 0-0 game. A win like this will definitely help us with our morale come playoff time.”
Aaron Sherlock scored two goals while Collin Driscoll and Daniel DeRobbio also added goals for Pilgrim. Dylan Cunetta stopped 29 shots for the Pats in net.
“They have an outstanding goalie, he’s known to be very good and talented. We jumped up 3-1 and we forgot about the defensive zone,” said Pilgrim coach Michael Boyajian Sr. “Early in the game, a two-goal lead is the worst lead in hockey and we proved that tonight. From the goaltender out, we didn’t play well throughout the entire team. The kids came back and played great in the last two periods, they did a great job once they went back to playing in all three zones.”
Although Pilgrim has had to find it’s way after graduating key pieces from last year’s team, including Jack Clements, Boyajian Sr. feels that the Pats have the depth and work ethic to make another run at a title this winter.
“We have good depth, I believe that that is the strength of our team this year, we are able to roll out three good lines and attack. Attacking the net, playing strong defense, that’s our style. We don’t have the most talented team, but they work hard. Tonight, a lot of that was hard work (in the last two periods). When you go against a goalie like that, you need to work hard to get him moving and they were able to do that,” said Boyajian Sr.
Pilgrim improved to 8-1-1 and have two games left in the regular season. With West Warwick right behind them at 7-2-1, Boyajian Sr. believes that the Pats will have to win out in order to secure the top seed.
“We had to win. We need to stay on top of West Warwick. We can’t sleep on any team, we need to take care of business no matter who we play,” said Boyajian Sr. “It was an important win, if a team comes in here and beats you after taking a 3-1 lead, that’s a tough pill to swallow. We took a lot of positive in the second half, but we had a lot of negative in the first have that we’ll have to correct.”