PSW opens D-II season with win

PSW opens D-II season with win

St. Raphael Academy senior Pat Coughlin, middle, wins a faceoff with North Kingstown’s Hayden Shabo, left, during last Saturday night’s Division II opener at Lynch Arena. Coughlin, who is a co-captain on this year’s co-op squad, assisted on his team’s first two goals to help lead PSW to a 4-1 win. (Breeze photos by Kayla Panu)
SRA players help co-op hockey team skate past N.K., 4-1

PAWTUCKET – Despite missing one of its senior captains, the Providence Country Day/St. Raphael Academy/Wheeler co-op hockey team didn’t miss a beat in taking down North Kingstown, 4-1, in their Division II opener last Saturday night at Lynch Arena.

“I’m thrilled with our win,” first year PSW head coach Kevin Sullivan said. “Going into these games, you never know what you got, and you don’t know what you are going up against. But I’m so pleased for them and the way they played. First game, what can you expect? They played great.”

Sullivan took over the team after serving as an assistant coach on last year’s squad that posted a 9-6-3 regular-season record. He said the team lost almost half its roster, between players graduating, transferring, and moving, and not only was PSW missing one of its captains in last weekend’s opener, but Sullivan also said a lot of freshmen got a lot of playing time and showed good things.

“I give them credit,” Sullivan said of his younger players. “They did really well. The game is so much faster for them, making that transition, but they did well.”

One half of PSW’s co-captain tandem, SRA senior Pat Coughlin, took part in the opener and assisted on PSW’s first two goals, but the other co-captain, Dennis Gastel, also plays for the Juanita Sanchez/PCD/Wheeler co-op football team and was preparing for Sunday afternoon’s Division III Super Bowl against Burrillville.

Sullivan said that he expects big things from both players, especially since PSW, which has nine players from Wheeler, seven from SRA, and three from PCD, doesn’t have many seniors, but a large group of sophomores.

“We’ve got a super crop of sophomores,” Sullivan said. “Michael Barone could be the fastest kid in this league. And Bennett Hicks and (SRA sophomore) Drew Andella are super strong sophomores that played a huge role in the game today. We’re a young team – we don’t have a lot of seniors out there – and that’s what’s really encouraging.”

In the win over the Skippers, PSW broke out to a 3-1 lead after one period of play. Barone and Michael Moreau scored goals 36 seconds apart from each other late in the period, and after N.K. scored its goal with 4:47 on the clock, Hicks made it a two-goal game with two minutes to play by scoring off the rebound of a shot by Andella.

PSW senior goaltender Justin Paik, meanwhile, turned away 23 of the 24 shots he faced, and Dom Reposa capped the scoring with an unassisted, empty-net goal with 49.7 seconds left in the game.

“(Paik) didn’t get much experience last year, but when he got his opportunity tonight, he did a great job,” Sullivan said. “He was solid. I’m so proud of him and I’m so happy for him. It should give him a lot of confidence for the next game and the game after that.”

With Sullivan, there are four other coaches on the staff, including Chris Librizzi, who returns from last year. Gino Rotondi, the defensemen’s coach, is new, as is Sam McCarthy, and Chris Moreau is the goalie coach. Sullivan said that they all do a great job.

“One thing about this team that I love is that they practice really well and that’s the big thing,” Sullivan said. “I don’t worry too much about expectations. I just want out guys to concentrate on the process, not the outcome. If we do all the things right – if we worry about the process and practicing and bringing it to the game – the outcome will happen.”

PSW is back in action on Friday with a 7:30 p.m. game against Toll Gate at Warwick’s Thayer Arena and on Saturday with a 7:50 p.m. contest against Barrington at Lynch Arena.

St. Raphael Academy’s Drew Andella, shown scooping up the puck along the boards during last weekend’s game against North Kingstown, is one of the sophomores to watch on this winter’s co-op hockey team. PSW will visit Toll Gate on Friday night at Thayer Arena and host defending Division II champion Barrington on Saturday night at Lynch Arena.