Cranston edges Prout in OT

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Fighting off injuries for most of the season, the Cranston Co-op boys’ hockey team has struggled to produce points in the state’s top division.

However, on Saturday night, the Falcons showed what they’re capable of when fully healthy, as they outlasted Prout, 4-3, in overtime for their second win of the season.

The Crusaders got a goal from Alexei Ruggieri late to force the extra period, but Jake Drohen sent the Falcon fans at Cranston Ice Rink home happy when he buried the game-winner just over a minute into overtime to secure two points for his team.

“We finally played with a full roster Saturday night,” Cranston head coach Matt Brannon said. “Things are starting to come together.”

Less than five minutes into the first period, Jeffrey Wardle potted his first goal of the season when he finished off a feed from freshman Ryan Demers to give Cranston a 1-0 lead.

That’s where the score remained until late in the second period. With 1:02 left before the second intermission, Prout captain James Burke tallied the equalizer to send both teams to the locker room tied at 1.

Cranston took the lead twice more in the third period, but Prout responded both times.

At 2:22 of the third, Justin Neary netted an unassisted goal to give the Falcons a one-goal lead once again.

That advantage didn’t last long, though, as Crusaders’ forward Zachary Gauvin tied the game at 2 just 36 seconds after Neary’s tally.

Cranston went ahead for a third time on a goal from Nathan Baldini with assists from Neary and Anthony DiSano with 7:38 left in regulation.

But, once again, the Crusaders battled back. This time, they got a goal from Ruggieri in the final minute to send the game to overtime.

Drohen would clinch the win off an assist from Baldini in the extra frame, however, putting an end to a game that featured resilient efforts from both squads.

Cranston junior netminder D.J. DeAngelis was phenomenal in net, stopping 46 of the 49 shots he faced to help the Falcons keep pace.

Cranston will now have a week off from league play, but it will host East Catholic from Connecticut on Monday at 3 p.m.

The game was initially scheduled to be played at Thayer Arena, but it will now be played at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, which will provide a rare opportunity for the Falcons to skate on the same ice as the Providence Bruins.

“I surprised them a few weeks back and let them know that the game got switched from Thayer to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center,” Brannon said. “They’ve been excited. The kids have been pushing it on social media and they’re really looking forward to it.”

Following that matchup, the Falcons will have just one regular season game remaining – Friday, Feb. 24, at Cranston Ice Rink against Smithfield at 8 p.m.

Come playoff time, Cranston will compete for a championship with the other three teams towards the bottom of the Division I standings.

The Falcons should be a tough team to oust in a few weeks. They’re healthy and building some confidence at the right time, winning two of their last five games.

“They know playoffs are getting closer, and they really want to push for a public school championship,” Brannon said.

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