The Johnston/North Providence/Tiverton Panthers co-op squeaked out a 4-3 win over the Pilgrim Patriots on Friday night at Thayer Arena in a Division III hockey showdown.
The game-winning tally came at 10:16 of the third period when Panthers junior forward Seth Jacyssin lit the lamp after an assist from sophomore Jeremy Gervais.
It was a reprisal for the Panthers, who were beaten 6-5 at home against Pilgrim two weeks prior after squandering a 3-1 lead heading into the third period.
It’s a tight division and Panthers head coach Manny DaCosta expects a dogfight each and every week.
“They’re all going to be tough,” DaCosta said. “That is how this division is.” “Every team can beat you on any given night. Last year, we missed the playoffs by one point. Teams 1 through 5 were a difference of about four points. It is going to be the same this year as well.”
Pilgrim found the back of the net one minute and twenty-five seconds into the contest when Chris Quirk, a defenseman, fired in a wrister after assists from Matt Pacheco and Sean Noel.
Then with 8:20 remaining in the period, Panthers junior and assistant captain Christian Campbell punched in a goal from in front following an assist from Gervais, which evened the score at 1.
The Panthers took a 2-1 advantage at 1:03 of the second period when sophomore Zach Bernier picked off a Pilgrim clearing attempt and blasted the puck off the right pad of Pilgrim freshman goaltender Connor Williams and into the net.
Then with 11.8 seconds remaining in the period, Pilgrim knotted the game at 2 when Collin Driscoll lit the lamp from the doorstep after assists from Pacheco and Noel.
The Pats took a 3-2 edge at 5:26 of the third period when Dylan Gallagher scored after passes from Charles Dale and Eric Stevens.
Though, two minutes later, the Panthers deadlocked the score at 3 when Campbell got his second tally, a shorthanded goal after an assist from senior Zach Morin.
Then, with 4:44 remaining in regulation, Jacyssin scored the go-ahead goal and put the Panthers on top 4-3.
Goaltender Ethan Arruda has been phenomenal in between the pipes for the Panthers this season and he was again on Friday night, making 47 saves.
“Ethan is fantastic,” DaCosta said. “A freshman from Tiverton. He’s a really good goalie. He keeps us in the games. There’s no doubt about it.”
Arruda said he and his team were determined to leave Warwick with a win.
“We came into the third like, let’s take the dub,” Arruda said. “Let’s go in hard. Let’s fight for the game. And, we kept our heads up. No stupid penalties, no nothing.”
And then, afterwards, they rejoiced.
“It felt amazing,” Arruda added. “They’re coming in thinking they’re going to beat us again after we blew a 3-1 lead in the third in the last game. They score the first goal in the third, we come back to score two straight and we take the dub.”
Williams finished with 11 stops in net for Pilgrim.
DaCosta is happy with the way the Panthers have progressed since he implemented a more defensive scheme.
“They’re getting better and better,” DaCosta said. “I’ve taken care of defense a little more. The forwards picking up the bodies coming back. So, it’s more of a team effort instead of letting the defense play defense and the offense play offense. Now, it’s five guys coming back and playing defense, which is fantastic. It’s what we need.”
The Panthers now sit in first place at 3-1 while the Pats are in third at 2-2.
The Panthers play next on Friday at 7 pm against West Warwick/Exeter/West Greenwich Co-op at Lynch Ice Rink in Pawtucket while the Pats host Narragansett/Chariho co-op at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.