Wednesday evening, the Smithfield Municipal Ice Rink was host to an RIIL Division 1 game, between the La Salle Academy Rams, and the East Greenwich Avengers. The Rams offense exploded late in the contest, potting 6 goals in the final 18 minutes of regulation. Goaltender Maxwell Cute of La Salle stopped 22/23 shots, and was sharp throughout the game, giving little for the Avenger's shooters to work with. East Greenwich goaltender Cole Barron stopped 20/24 and came up big for the Avengers, stuffing multiple short-handed opportunities by the Rams throughout the game.
Just after the opening face-off, Rams forward Matthew Walsh was penalized for boarding and assessed a five minute major, giving the Avengers a golden opportunity to start the game. During the ensuing face-off in the La Salle zone, three East Greenwich players were found to be in violation of the RIIL mask policy, and sent off the ice until they could be in compliance. This sent the Avengers powerplay unit into disarray, from which, they never fully recovered. La Salle's penalty killing units went to work in trademark fashion, with Dylan Johnson leading the charge, killing time with solid work against the wall deep in the Avengers zone.
At 11:47 in the first period and with East Greenwich still on the power play, La Salle forward Tommy Sheehan collected a pass from Michael Broussard in the slot. Sheehan received the pass in stride and deked around goalie Cole Baron with a backhand, forehand move, that was tucked in low blockerside giving the Rams the 1-0 lead. The Rams outshot the Avengers 5 to 1 during the major penalty assessed to Walsh, and Cole Barron was forced to come up with some big saves early on.
Late in the first period, East Greenwich was on the rush with a 2 on 1, when the Avenger's Corey Szabo carried the puck over the blue line and released a wrist shot on goaltender Maxwell Cute just from the top of the circle. Cute directed the rebound back into the slot where Avengers forward Colin Walsh was crashing the net. The puck inadvertently bounced off the skate of Walsh as he was stopping on the top of the crease, careening into the open net as Walsh and Cute collided and fell into one another. After the referees conferred with each other briefly, it was determined that the goal would be disallowed on the grounds the puck was kicked in, and thus the score remained at 1-0 (video below courtesy of SFBNRI.com).
East Greenwich would tie the game late in the second period off the stick of Matt McKenzie. McKenzie attempted the wraparound try, with Maxwell Cute sliding across from, right to left, to hold the shortside post. The puck stalled, resting against the post and the foot of Cute, with McKenzie swatting at the loose puck in a battle of strength and will. After a few solid pokes, McKenzie had forced the puck over the goaline and the Avengers were finally rewarded for their hard work.
Only one minute and thirty seconds later, the Rams would retake the lead for good. With Michael Brouillard taking the face-off to the left of Cole Barron, the draw was won clean,
back to Connor Huard who snapped a shot quickly on the Avenger's goaltender. The shot went through a screen and past the blockerside of Cole Barron giving the Rams the 2 to 1 lead on a shot that proved to be the game winner. The Rams would add 5 more goals, 4 of which came in the third period. Christopher Gannon would add a pair of goals and an assist, along with goals by Michael Brouillard, Cameron Tasca, and Dylan Johnson.
The special teams of La Salle, particularly the penalty killing unit, were extremely effective throughout the night, outshooting their opponent and generating good scoring opportunities while a man down. Even with the PK's successes, the Rams should take heed in avoiding penalties and putting a more potent power play unit on the ice with their 4 penalties totalling 11 minutes.
East Greenwich played a great game that was not indicative of the score. The East Greenwich goaltending duo faced 37 shots, with Giordan Gulatti seeing 13 of those during his nine plus minutes of relief (10/13). Cole Barron was solid in net for the Avengers and was the best player on the ice during his team's power play, making several important saves to keep the score close. On the other side, Maxwell Cute was sturdy in backboning his team to victory. The junior goaltender has exhibited superior rebound control and has shown to have an elite glove hand. Cute rarely has been beaten clean by a shot and it will take teams generating traffic in front, in order to throw Cute off of his game. With LaSalle's defense protecting the slot, Cute controlling rebounds as well as he has, and gainimg control of their penalty woes, the Rams would appear to be a complete three zone team with special teams prowess.
You can watch the game in it's entirety here presented for your enjoyment by the SFBNRI broadcast team.
LSA Christopher Gannon 2G 1A 2PIM
LSA James McCue-Louvet 3A
LSA Michael Brouillard 1G 2A
LSA Cameron Tasca 1G 1A
LSA Maxwell Cute 22/23 .956 SV%
LSA Maxwell Cute 22/23 .956 SV%