On Jan. 13, the Bishop Hendricken hockey team counted itself lucky. The Hawks didn’t play their best game but managed to slip past Mount St. Charles in a 3-2 win.
Friday night at Thayer Arena, the Hawks delivered a similar performance.
And this time, there was no such luck.
The Mounties scored an early goal and never trailed as they handed Hendricken a 4-1 defeat, its first league loss of the season. Mount improved to 6-4 while Hendricken dropped to 10-1-1.
“It was the same thing as last time,” said Hendricken head coach Jim Creamer. “I’m disappointed with our effort. I think, in general, it was more of a balanced game tonight. But still, defensively, we were pretty poor. The puck was in our end quite a bit, and we struggled to get it out. Then, you give up turnovers and they score goals. It was just a lot of the same issues.”
The result was Hendricken’s first league loss since last year’s state championship series. The only other time the Hawks tasted defeat was against La Salle College High School in the Mount St. Charles Holiday Tournament, and that was in a shootout.
The Mounties, meanwhile, have had their struggles this season, but they’d been showing some good signs in recent weeks. In a Jan. 6 meeting with Hendricken, they put 59 shots on net, then had 36 shots in the close loss to the Hawks two weeks ago. In each of their next two games, they had more than 60 shots.
That positive momentum – plus a feeling that they’d let one get away two weeks ago – fueled the Mounties on Friday.
“We were really hungry for this one,” said Mount coach Dave Belisle. “We played a great game against them last time. The scoreboard just didn’t show it. I thought today, we played a full three periods. Last time, they beat us in the third. Today, we skated and we finished, right to the very end.”
The Mounties ended up losing to La Salle 6-1 on Saturday, but Friday’s performance was all positive.
Midway through the first period, Brian Belisle carried the puck into the Hendricken zone and left the puck for Brian Campbell. He then pushed it across to Ryan Berard, who was open on the right post and punched the puck into the net for the 1-0 lead.
Unlike their last meeting, when the Mounties out-shot the Hawks by 20, there was just a one shot disparity after a period. For the game, the teams ended up with 23 shots each.
But the Mounties kept finishing.
Less than two minutes into the second period, Tyler Scroggins got loose on a breakaway down the left side and banged a shot off the post. Callan Morisseau cleaned up the rebound to make it 2-0.
Hendricken finally got on the board with 7:44 left in the second. Robbie Buehrer took a pass off the boards, went around a defender and beat goalie Brian Larence to make it 2-1. Dave Mitchell had the assist.
The score remained 2-1 until the final minutes of the game, but the Hawks didn’t put together many threats as they chased the equalizer.
“I thought we made poor decisions offensively,” Creamer said. “We didn’t move the puck well enough and we just didn’t generate enough shots on net. I think we ended up with 23 shots, and that’s just not enough. It’s a product of us being in our own zone the whole night.”
The Hawks tried making a push in the final five minutes, but just 36 seconds into a power play, they picked up a penalty of their own. Larence made a glove save on a breakaway shot by Paul Filippone with the teams skating four-on-four. Then, with Mount on the power play, Belisle skated free on the left side and beat Hendricken goalie Billy Palmer high to make it 3-1.
Belisle added an empty-net goal with 42 seconds left for the final margin.
“You can’t let this team get the edge on you,” Dave Belisle said. “You noticed in the last period, they got a little bit of momentum, but we fought back and that was big. I was very proud of the effort today. We played a great game.”
The Hawks couldn’t say the same for themselves, but Creamer is optimistic that the loss can help the cause.
“Hopefully we get better from it,” Creamer said. “Billy Palmer has covered some poor overall performances for us. We need to play better. I think this can be a springboard. We always want to win, but I don’t think a loss is the worst thing that could have happened to us.”
The Hawks return to action with a doubleheader this weekend. They’ll take on Burrillville on Friday at 9:30 p.m. before taking on second-place La Salle on Saturday at 9 p.m. Both games are at Thayer Arena.
The game against La Salle will be the first meeting between the teams since Dec. 31, when the Hawks eked out a 4-3 win.