The State Championship had promise of a dramatic series with a great story line. Game one of the best of three series gave Rhode Island hockey fans all of that and more.
The Avengers scored first, freshman Joe Andreozzi. Wow, imagine being a freshman at a public school and finding the back of the net first in a State Finals against a perennial power house. Just wow!
It didn’t take long for speedster Dylan Cappelli, on a long pass breakaway from Alex Giuliano to put the equalizer home. I see Mr. Cappelli standing at the glass at every game we covered, so nice, he is always saying hi. I bet he was jumping out of his seat!
The Avengers would answer with two more goals coming from Sonny Arsenault and arguably the best two way player in the state, Cam Gaffney. Leaving the score 3-1 Avengers going into the intermission. No one could believe their eyes, but I could. We broadcasted 140 high school hockey games this year, I knew EG was dynamite.
Amidst all the scoring the huge underlying story was Cole Barron, the tender for EG, being an absolute brick wall, already stopping around 30 shots on net, while Drew Carr for the Hawks had let in 3 on half the amount of shots.
“Cole kept us in the game, without him it would’ve been lopsided” said coach Kris Omicioli
East Greenwich is a power packed public school hockey program with some of the biggest family names in Rhode Island on the coaching staff with Omicioli and Gaffney. The team is poised to rival a private school program such as Bishop Hendricken. The programs split the official series in regular season. Coach Omicioli is not mincing words when talking about his team in game two;
”As a coach, there are times when I step back and let the guys try to figure it out. This is there moment and they can control the outcome. They know that if they play like last night it will be a short night“ said Omicioli
Coming back from intermission the Hawks found their rhythm. An untimely cross checking penalty for EG gave the Hawks the opening they needed and Ryan Staples would find the open side goal to bring it within one. Barron would argue with the referee that he was interfered with, but the officials let the goal stand. Soon after Aiden PennacchinI would bang home the equalizer and that’s where regulation would end, in a 3-3 tie. The Avengers 3-1 lead was a thing of the past.
Over time would ensue, and it would go double overtime with both teams having great chances to end the game with a hockey goal, but Carr and Barron were up to the test. This had been a goalie battle through and through. The Hawks out shot the Avengers 52-24, but the Avengers having a bunch of high quality chances. Barron and Carr kept their respective teams in the game. Carr had stopped some huge breakaways and rose to the occasion when needed. This goalie match up had everything you could ask for… including a game ending shoot out.
The game went to a shoot out after two scoreless overtime periods. The whole crowd sat silent every time a skater would take off. Both teams first participants came up short, but next up Corey Szabo, for the Avengers, wasted no time putting EG on the board. I have spoken to Michael Szabo, his father, multiple times over the season, what a proud moment for him and his family.
Next Up for the Hawks was the dangerous Matt Moretti and he did not disappoint. Matt banged home the equalizer. I’m sure his Father Mike was dealing out hi fives like cigars when Matt was born.
This is where, after a grueling 3 period, double overtime , game one Championship Series game where Barron seemed to be getting all the accolades from the press and rightfully so, Drew Carr would stand tall when he was needed the most and show everyone in Schneider Arena what he was made of.
Next Avenger up, SAVE by Carr... Ryan Staples would score for the Hawks on an absolute top glove side laser… next Avenger up, SAVE by Carr… Griffin Crain would score with some nifty stick work for the Hawks… next Avenger up, SAVE BY CARR! GAME OVER! So I didn’t want to speculate on how Bob Carr, Drew’s Father, felt at that moment.. so I asked him;
”I was confident we'd come out on top. He's been dialed in throughout the playoffs. Every goalie's dream to win game like that“ said Carr
Hendricken head coach Mike Soscia had this to say about his net minder Drew Carr;
”Drew has had great performances in the playoffs against Mount and La Salle and tonight he came through when we needed him the most” said Soscia
I‘ve been hearing a lot about the confidence of East Greenwich overall in this series with Bishop Hendricken. What about the confidence built by Drew Carr and company to come back from 3-1 and then for Carr to save 3 of 4 in the shoot out. That’s a scary proposition if you are an Avengers fan.
No matter what the outcome is tonight for Game two, we had a legendary finals series game one between one of the best public school programs I have seen since the Smithfield program a few years ago, taking on the big dog in RI high school hockey year after year. All of this is a great look for Rhode Island high school hockey and the whole community should be proud.
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