Smithfield, RI - The Smithfield Municipal Ice rink was host to the RIIL Girls Hockey match-up between the East Bay Co-Op (Barrington, Mt Hope, Portsmouth) and the SCMB Co-Op (Smithfield, Coventry, Moses Brown) on Saturday night in an entertaining game that came down to the wire. Senior Katherine Barker of East Bay figured in on all 6 Eagle tallies, with 4 goals and 2 assists, including the game winner, which came on the power play.
Early in the first period, SCMB found themselves shorthanded after a tripping penalty sent Junior Hannah Murphy to the box. East Bay worked the perimeter, feeding the points while establishing a net front presence. Despite all the control time in the zone with the man advantage, East Bay only managed 4 shots on net, with several attempts from the point missing their mark wide. Eagles goalie, Sara Turillo, was excellent in the first period and bailed out her team on the power play, making a clutch pad save to prevent a shorthanded goal.
Minutes later, Katherine Barker potted her first goal of the night, assisted by a nifty feed from behind the net off the stick of Peyton Whittet. Barker one-timed the pass low glove side from the slot, that SCMB goaltender Kylie Whelan had no chance saving. The first period was a goaltending duel with Whelan stopping 9 of 10 shots, while Turillo turned aside 11 of 11, at one point flashing the leather with a great glove save.
Second period scoring opened with an East Bay tally on the power play. Whittet sauced a pass over from the left circle on the rush, finding Barker on the back post for a one timer into the yawning net. Whittet scored the next two goals for the East Bay Eagles, making it 4-0, and they seemingly were running away with the contest. Undeterred, SCMB went to work and scored just 37 seconds later when their captain, Jianna Truppi, broke through the defense beating Turillo on a backhand move low to the blocker side, making the score 4 to 1.
Barker was unrelenting in the contest, netting her hat trick goal, unassisted, 30 seconds after the Truppi tally, beating Whelan clean with a quick wrist shot from the right circle. With the score 5 to 1, SCMB showed a lot of poise, scoring twice in under a minute off the sticks of freshman forward Alyssa DiMaria, and sophomore defenseman, Lauren Falls. At the end of two periods and with the score 5 to 3, SCMB had clawed their way back into the contest scoring on 3 of 6 shots, setting the stage for a wild ending.
With 11:54 remaining in the third period, SCMB starting defensman Kristi Georgantis, was penalized for slashing, putting the potent East Bay special teams unit back on the ice. It took the Eagles only 41 seconds to score when Barker slammed home an errant rebound. SCMB goaltender Kylie Whelan was outstanding down the stretch, stopping 14 of 15 shots she faced in the third period and finished the night with 30 of 36 saves.
SCMB would give the Eagles a good scare, scoring twice in the final minutes of play. Alyssa DiMaria scored her second of the night with a snipe top shelf glove side, followed by a beautiful goal by Mia Stilley. Stilley shred the defense and tucked it past Turillo to score unassisted, pulling her team to within one, however, there were only 25 seconds remaining. After an East Bay time out, and with the face-off at center ice, SCMB head coach, Kerri Nadeau, opted to leave her goaltender in the cage in lieu of the extra attacker. SCMB couldn't muster an offensive opportunity in the closing seconds of the game, and never were able to gain control in the offensive zone.
Ultimately, East Bay Co-Op's size was difficult for the SCMB defenders to contain in front of the net, resulting in many scoring opportunities and second chances. Despite getting solid goaltending from Whelan, special teams proved to be the difference with East Bay converting on 2 of 4 chances, off 11 shots on goal. East Bay is too skilled up front to spend any amount of time short handed and SCMB will need to be more disciplined if they want to eliminate these types of situations moving forward. Meanwhile, the East Bay offense looks to be firing on all cylinders (Barker 4G, 2A, 2PPG; Whittet 2G 2A) and rivals should take note of their special teams successes.