The No. 1 ranked Pilgrim Patriots swept No. 2 ranked West Warwick/Exeter/West Greenwich co-op 2-0 in the boys hockey Division III Final and repeated as champions over the weekend at Bradford R. Boss Ice Arena.
The Pats beat WW/EWG 3-1 in Friday night’s Game 1 before cruising to a 7-1 thrashing in Game 2 on Saturday evening.
“We looked to take care of business today,” Pilgrim head coach Mike Boyajian Jr. said. “The kids wanted to finish it tonight. And they did a great job. They came out flying. And there was no quit in our team tonight. Top to bottom, every single kid got out there, every single kid contributed, and I couldn’t be prouder of this team.”
“It means a lot to the school,” Boyajian added. “It means a lot to the city. Not too many opportunities you get in life where you get to represent your city and your school like that. So, it means a real lot to us and it means a lot to Warwick to take home a championship again.”
Collin Driscoll, a junior, recorded a hat trick and an assist, in Game 2 while Sean Noel contributed a goal plus a dish.
Matt Pacheco, a senior forward, registered a goal and an assist in each game of the championship series and won the Reverend Msgr. Robert C. Newbold Award as the D-III MVP.
Pacheco credited his coaches as the reason why the Pats were successful the last few years.
“Sticking to the coaches’ game plan,” Pacheco said. “They’re really good coaches and they know what they’re talking about. So, we stuck with them. They told us what to do and we did it.”
“We knew we had to come out even stronger this year because we beat them pretty good last year,” Jack Clements, a senior, added. “But we came out pretty hard this year and we got it done.”
Clements recorded a goal and an assist in each game as well.
The Pacheco-Clements duo didn’t want to settle for just the one banner, and the soon-to-be graduates hope to be back next year to root on their teammates.
“That’s just in us,” Clements said. “We’re just hungry. We always want it. We’re never going to stop. We’re going to come back next year and watch and hopefully we can get another one.”
“We grew up playing hockey together since we were about 5 years old,” Clements continued. “Playing street hockey and now we’re here. Two in a row and it feels pretty good.”
WW/EWG took an early 1-0 lead in Game 2 when Ethan Laramee scored at 13:14 of the opening period following an assist from Alex Jedson.
Pilgrim evened the game at 1, one minute and thirty-two seconds later, when Driscoll lit the lamp after an assist from Eric Stevens.
Next, Pilgrim went up 2-1, 1:08 into the second period, when Noel fired in a wrister after a dish from Driscoll.
From there, the Pats increased their margin.
Driscoll notched his second goal at 4:28 of the middle frame, after an assist from Noel, which put the Pats up 3-1.
Five minutes later, AJ Sherlock scored a power-play goal after a pass from James Cook, and that extended the Pilgrim edge to 4-1.
Next, Pacheco lit the lamp at 11:12 of the period, following an assist from Jack Clements, which gave the Pats a 5-1 advantage.
Pilgrim stayed aggressive in the third frame and added two more tallies.
“We knew we couldn’t step off the gas pedal and we just decided to keep going,” Clements said.
“Locker room, we just said, 'we’re not giving up,'” Pacheco added. “Fifteen more minutes left, and let’s give it all we’ve got. 110 percent.”
Driscoll scored his third goal at 6:08 of the final period following a dish from Pacheco and that made it 6-1.
Twelve seconds later, Clements skated down and flipped a wrister past MacDonald and extended the Pats lead to 7-1.
The Pats out-shot WW/EWG 72 to 39 in the two games.
Dylan Cunetta, Pilgrim’s freshman goaltender made 15 saves in Game 1 and 22 stops in Game 2 while allowing just a goal per game.
“A little coming out party I would say for Dylan,” Boyajian said. “He honestly played his best two games of the season the last two games of the season. So, I couldn’t be prouder of Dylan. He was unbelievable tonight.”
It may have been the freshman’s first year playing net, but he wanted to help bring the Pats back for another title.
“I always played hockey, but I never played goalie before this year,” Cunetta said. “So, they needed a goalie, so I wanted to help the team out.”
“We prepared all year for this,” Cunetta continued. “We knew we’d be back here. And it’s good to be here. Especially, because they were here last year and it’s good to be here in my first year at Pilgrim.”
Boyajian went on to express how much of a joy it’s been for him to coach the team all season.
“This is probably one of my favorite groups of kids that I’ve ever coached,” Boyajian said. “They are so close. They have each other’s backs. Just seeing them on the ice every day. They’re a fun group of kids. And I’m really going to miss the seniors this year. We had a great group of seniors and it’s going to be really hard to see them go.”
it is Pilgrim's third straight Championship series appearance since joining D-III three years ago.