Cumberland, Pilgrim Rejoice in Rhode Island State Titles

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Written by Dom Nicastro / Hockey Night in Boston

 

PROVIDENCE, RI — Pilgrim High School brought home its second Division 3 Rhode Island boys hockey state title in a row. This comes a year after the team won its first in decades. The team swept West Warwick/Exeter/West Greenwich again for its second straight title.

The Pilgrim hockey team, which moved within a victory of the school’s first state hockey title since 1990 with a 5-1 victory over West Warwick/Exeter/West Greenwich in the first game of the best-of-best Division III title series on March 8, quickly took command in the second game rolling to a 7-0 victory over WW/E/WG in the championship game at Meehan Auditorium on March 9.

HNIB News caught up with Pilgrim coach Mike Boyajian Jr. on another terrific season:

What was the difference for you guys in the finals? Another sweep. We have a tenacious group of kids. From the moment we beat Mt. Hope in the semis, the focus was championship or bust. This group understood what it would take to get back to the finals and win, and set their minds on doing just that. The seniors and juniors knew what it was like to lose and win in the finals. They were dead-set on ending the season on a winning note.

Who were the key parts of the offense in the playoff run? Jack Clements, Matt Pacheco and Collin Driscoll led the way for the offense. All three were vital in leading the offense during the title defense. Sean Noel, Dylan Gallagher and Danny DeRobbio rounded out the offense on the forward end. Sammy Clements and Eric Stevens proved to be a force in shutting down the opposing team’s offense in both series.

And defense and goalie was obviously huge, too. The defense and goalies were great throughout the playoffs. A.J. Sherlock, Ryan Pietros, Chris Quirk and James Cook were all instrumental. Danny DeRobbio yo-yo-ed back and forth from wing to defense, which helped stabilize the defense. Dylan Cunetta stole the show in the finals in net, allowing just two goals in the final series. Connor Williams grabbed the win Game 1 in the semi-finals.

How cool is it to bring a title to this school for the second year in a row — especially when you guys were young and it seemed like not many gave you a chance? With two goalies brand new to the position, as well as losing five seniors to graduation, we weren’t given much of a chance to repeat. The kids made up their minds early on that they were going to stick together as a team, support one another and play through adversity, no matter what people said or felt.

How cool is it to bring a title to this school for the second year in a row — especially when you guys were young and it seemed like not many gave you a chance? With two goalies brand new to the position, as well as losing five seniors to graduation, we weren’t given much of a chance to repeat. The kids made up their minds early on that they were going to stick together as a team, support one another and play through adversity, no matter what people said or felt.

As the season wore on, the confidence grew, as well as their expectations. Entering the finals, their confidence in their abilities and their teammates were at an all-time high. We told the kids before the season began it would be a long and difficult road to repeat. Being the first team to repeat in Division 3 since Tolman did it in 2004 was quite the feat for this team.

What can you say about your senior class as a whole? This senior class was one of my favorites as a coach. Jack Clements, Matt Pacheco, Ryan Pietros and Zach Sayles all played a role in us taking home titles over the last two seasons. Their leadership and the identity they gave this team will be sorely missed.

Rhode Island Division 2 State Final Series: Cumberland Takes Crown With Game 3 Shutout Win

PROVIDENCE, RI — No sophomore jinx for Cumberland goalie Jack Byrne. The netminder shut down Providence Country Day/St. Raphael/Wheeler in the decisive 1-0 win in Game 3 of the Division 2 Rhode Island state championship on March 15 at Meehan Auditorium on the campus of Brown University in Providence.

Cumberland won the series, 2-1, and takes the title.

Byrne made 21 saves and blanked PSW even though it had a power play for good part of the final third of the final period. He was named MVP of the championship series.

It turned out to be a series of the goalies. PSW’s Jeff Pimental wasn’t so bad himself in a 4-3 Game 2 win. He made 55 saves. He made another 32 in the final game.

The state-championship clinching goal came from Cumberland’s Domenic Rousseau, who redirected in a shot from Sean Meers early in the second period.

Cumberland finished 22-1-1, the only loss coming in the state finals. PSW finished strong at 17-6.

Jackson Shevlin won it for Cumberland in overtime (2-1 final) in Game 1 on a feed from Aidan Clarey, who had an earlier goal. Ben Kailher scored for PSW.

It was the first of two overtime games in the series. Game 2 went that way, too, with PSW winning, 4-3. Bennett Hicks and Cam Yee (two goals) had put PSW on top, 3-0. Hicks later scored the game-winner in overtime. Pimental had 10 saves in the extra frame.

 

Written by Dom Nicastro

Published with permission from Hockey Night in Boston

 

 

 

 

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