Broncos edge Falcons in D-I semifinals

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After suffering a Game 1 loss on Friday, the Cranston Co-op boys’ hockey team had to put it all out on the ice to stay alive in Game 2 of the Division I semifinals against Burrillville on Saturday night. The Falcons did just that, as sophomore forward Jaycob Hargreaves netted both goals in a 2-1 victory that forced a decisive Game 3.

Game 2 started off very slow. Burrillville had a slight advantage off the puck drop with most of the action occurring in its offensive zone. It had a few chances but lacked execution.

Both teams couldn’t connect with their passes and frustration was certainly evident. The first shot on net came with 9:20 left in the first period and there weren’t many solid chances for either team until the first penalty.

With 8:12 left in the first period, Hargreaves was assessed a five-minute major for boarding. This was the first real test for goaltender D.J. DeAngelis.

The penalty kill for Cranston was a success and it had much to do with the extra hustle and phenomenal stick-checking from forward Justin Neary. Following the long five-minute period where it was shorthanded, Cranston found itself in serious trouble once again shortly after.

Two penalties assessed to Cranston for tripping and roughing within the last two minutes of the first period left the Falcons outnumbered as Burrillville went on the 5-on-3 power play for over a minute.

After several shots on net and constant offensive pressure, Burrillville finally got on the board. With 50 seconds left in the first period, Michael Keable ripped a hard slap shot past DeAngelis after a great pass from Casey Lambert. This would silence the Cranston crowd and put the squad down 1-0.

Once the final minute ran off the clock, Burrillville had a 1-0 lead heading into the second period.

With all of the momentum in Burrillville’s direction, the team looked to increase the lead, however, the second line for Cranston had a burst of energy and it translated on the ice.

William Robinson, the Broncos’ netminder, saw several shots coming his way in the first half of the second period. He made an amazing save after a backhand attempt off a faceoff just minutes into the period.

Almost five minutes of the period ticked away before Hargreaves wristed the puck into the back of the net. Cranston knotted it up at 1 and received the momentum that it had been seeking.

Offensive pressure continued in the second half of the second period for Cranston. With just about six minutes until the horn, Neary had a breakaway with no defenders around him. His attempt for a five-hole shot was stopped by the squeezing of the pads from Robinson, who fell on his back to make sure it didn’t sneak in behind him.

With a minute left in the period, Hargreaves found the back of the net for the second time and put Cranston up 2-1. His wrister from the slot was almost identical to his first score, but it was far more satisfying as it gave Cranston the lead.

Just to add to the Broncos’ second-period troubles, a minor penalty was assessed with just 11 seconds on the clock. They would go into the locker room shorthanded and down by a score of 2-1, hoping to receive a spark that they had in the previous game.

The start of the third was a critical time for Burrillville as it was on the penalty kill and Robinson was getting ripped with shots. He made numerous fantastic saves and, with help from Chris Messier and Colin Stone, the penalty was killed off with no additional harm.

The entire third period was played with an extremely physical mindset from both teams. They traded big hits back and forth and tempers began to flare. The intensity was rising as the clock ticked away and Cranston found itself on the penalty kill once again.

DeAngelis continued to make quality saves and captain Kyle Poland was dominant in the defensive zone for Cranston.

With 46 seconds to play in the game, Burrillville called for a timeout and pulled its netminder. It was 6-on-5 for the last minute of the game and the Cranston squad seemed a little restless, trying to pot the empty-netter, but it continued to ice the puck, resulting in offensive faceoffs for the Broncos.

Hargreaves sent one down almost the entire length of the ice and missed the net in his attempt to complete his hat trick, and it brought with it another faceoff. With five seconds left in the game, Burrillville won the faceoff in its offensive zone and immediately put it on net. The puck slid loose from DeAngelis’ control and the Broncos collapsed towards the net, furiously trying to poke in a game-tying goal. As the horn blasted, the puck sat between the pads of the goaltender and the referee called the game.

Cranston went into Game 3 on Monday night with the momentum, but the Falcons couldn’t get by Burrillville on its home ice. Cranston took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, but the Broncos responded with four unanswered goals over the next 30 minutes to secure a trip to the D-I final.

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