Northmen boost playoff hopes

Northmen boost playoff hopes

Lincoln junior forward Devin Cormier, left, gets ready to take a shot on North Smithfield senior goalie Ethan Cote, #1, in front of N.S. sophomore forward Logan Whitton, #13, during Sunday’s Division II game at the Rhode Island Sports Center. The Northmen skated to a 4-0 win that raised their record to 5-2. (Breeze photos by Kayla Panu)
Hockey team improves to 5-2, tops PSW co-op squad, Lincoln

NORTH SMITHFIELD – In a Division II boys’ hockey showdown on Sunday afternoon that might decide the third and final playoff seed in their subdivision, North Smithfield High capped an outstanding weekend on its Rhode Island Sports Center ice by grabbing a 4-0 win over neighboring Lincoln.

The Northmen, who less than 24 hours earlier, had skated to a 6-2 victory over the Providence Country Day/St. Raphael Academy/Wheeler co-op team, improved to 5-2 with games this week against teams with losing records – Ponaganset on Wednesday morning and the Narragansett/Chariho co-op team on Saturday at 9 p.m. at the R.I.S.C. – remaining on their schedule.

“We needed (the win) for playoff seeding and obviously to come out of the subdivision,” N.S. head coach Ben Shatraw said. “And we showed up and blew the doors off the place. They were having fun, which is nice to see. It doesn’t happen too often. These seniors had lost a lot of games and lost a lot of big games, so it was nice to see them come in here, get a good weekend, and move on so we can look forward to the playoffs.”

“Because of the way the playoffs are, it’s crazy, but in our subdivision, (the win) gives us a leg up on Lincoln,” Shatraw added. “We’ll probably be in the top half of the seedings, even if we are the (number) three seed in our subdivision, because it’s so strong. We all have pretty good records.”

While the Northmen are in third place in their subdivision behind the undefeated Cranston and Warwick co-op squads, the Lions slipped to 3-1-1. They wrap up their regular season with games against South Kingstown on Tuesday night, Ponaganset on Friday at 9 p.m. at Levy Arena, and the Cranston co-op team next Sunday afternoon.

“Now it’s about composure,” admitted Lincoln head coach Mike Forrest. “Now it’s about my captains being captains. What are they going to do? I can’t handle anything about what the playoff situation is going to be. I’ll talk to my AD about it, but it is what it is. You got to put this one behind you and you got to move on.”

The Northmen scored the only goal they needed 7:12 into the contest, as sophomore forward Brandon Boudreau took a pass from senior forward Evan Gravel and fired it off the post and past Lincoln senior goaltender Nathaniel Beals.

After a scoreless second period that saw the Lions play well, the Northmen broke open the game by scoring their final three goals in the opening 4:39 of the third period. Senior forward Luke Pasquariello and junior defenseman Seth Pickering added unassisted goals, and Gravel gave the host team a 3-1 lead by scoring off passes from Boudreau and Pickering.

Pasquariello doubled the Northmen’s lead just 38 seconds into the period. Lincoln junior defenseman Landon Forrest attempted a shot on net, but the puck found Pasquariello, who gained possession of it, took off on a breakaway, and flipped the puck past Beals.

“We got a bad break,” the Lincoln head coach said. “(The puck) kicked right off Pasquariello’s skate and right to him. And that’s a guy you don’t want going in on your goalie because he’s a good player. And then it just kind of fell apart from there. We had a good, strong (second) period, and I thought we were ready to break through (in the third) and then that happened.”

The Lions still had some fight left in them as they tried to get back into the game, but after the fourth goal went in, the wind came crashing out of their sails.

“And it’s just like the wheels came off,” the Lincoln head coach added. “Everyone’s hanging their heads and yelling and screaming at each other. It’s about having composure.”

“Lincoln has always been a good team and always has a good game against us,” said Shatraw, who saw senior goalie Ethan Cote earn the shutout. “This is actually the first time we’ve really blown it open against them. Lincoln always plays hard. They have a good goalie and their coaching is really good.”

In the Northmen’s victory over the PSW co-op team, which entered the game with a 4-2 record, Pasquariello netted a hat trick and Gravel added a goal and three assists. Senior defenseman Logan Weiker and Pickering added N.S.’s other goals.

After the Northmen won their game, the Lions took the R.I.S.C. ice and rolled past the Narragansett/Chariho co-op team, 4-1, as senior forwards Andrew Alfieri, Kyle Costa, and Kevin Degnan and junior forward Devin Cormier supplied Lincoln’s goals.

North Smithfield senior Evan Gravel had a big weekend at the Rhode Island Sports Center that saw him score a goal and add three assists in the Northmen’s 6-2 victory over the PSW co-op hockey team and contribute a goal and an assist to his team’s 4-0 win over Lincoln. Those two victories raised the Northmen’s Division II record to 5-2.