The Cranston/East Greenwich Thunderbirds co-op was crushed by La Salle Academy 9-1 on Saturday evening at Cranston Veterans Memorial Ice Rink.
The Rams were led by freshman forwards Hannah Haxton and Sofia Calabro. Haxton scored a hat trick while Calabro added two goals. Also coming up big for La Salle was Krista Varrichione, a senior defenseman, and Anya Nichipor, a freshman forward, who each contributed two assists.
Thunderbirds senior goalie Mali Lindgren finished with 29 saves on the night while La Salle senior Sarah Lisa made two stops.
It will be Lindgren’s first full season between the pipes and the senior is improving every week.
“She was a forward who wanted to play net,” Cranston/EG head coach PJ Bessette said. “It’s a down year for goaltending, only because she’s never played before. Halfway through last season, she went and bought goalie equipment, came to practice, and then she got sick. So, she was only a goalie for about three weeks . . . Then, she worked hard over the summer and she’s never ever had any instruction or anything and she does a good job. She goes out there and works hard and that’s all I can ask.”
Just 24 seconds into the contest, La Salle drew a 1-0 edge when the Rams won the opening faceoff and Haxton scored an unassisted tally.
A little more than two minutes later, the Rams extended their advantage to 2-0 after Haxton lit the lamp for her second goal, which was also unassisted.
Next, the Rams upped their cushion to 3-0, five minutes into the frame, when Calabro found the back of the net after Varrichione fired a shot in front.
La Salle’s fourth goal came at 6:46 of the first period when Grayson Goolgasian, a junior forward, scored with a put back, following an assist from Nichipor.
Two minutes later, the Rams bumped their lead up to 5-0 when Calabro earned her second tally following assists from Varrichione and Elizabeth Walsh.
During the ninth minute of the opening period, Hannah Pezzelli, a sophomore forward, found the back of the net after assists from both Goolgasian and Nichipor and that put the Rams on top 6-0.
The second frame was much quieter with the first goal coming 10 minutes and 48 seconds in when La Salle’s Aimee Rego scored the lone goal of the period, following an assist from Patrice Dafonte, and it expanded the Rams buffer to 7-0.
Twelve seconds into the final period, Cranston/EG’s Davin Phinney, a right wing, helped the Thunderbirds prevent the shutout when she sped down the ice and fired a wrister past Lisa from the left side for an unassisted tally and that pulled Cranston/EG within 7-1.
“She’s a freshman from East Greenwich and she’s got a good little shot and she works hard,” Bessette explained.
Phinney and Mia Schenenga are two freshmen that Bessette leans on because they have played a good amount of hockey and have a good understanding of the game.
“Her and Mia, they both work hard and if it wasn’t Davin it probably would have been Mia,” Bessette said. “But Davin’s adapted very well to the high school game, as well as Mia, and they are my two go-to girls on the ice. I kind of use them as captains or coaches on the ice because they know the game and they see the ice well. So, it makes it easier for me to send them out there to help out the rest of the girls on the ice.”
Thirteen seconds after the Thunderbirds tally, La Salle’s Haxton answered with a wrister, following an assist from Rego and it gave the Rams an 8-1 advantage.
The final tally of the contest came 2:36 into the third period when La Salle senior forward Zoe Bergeron scored after an assist from Cailey Brousseau, a sophomore defenseman, and that put the Rams on top 9-1.
With the loss, Cranston/EG fell to 0-5 in the league while La Salle improved to 5-0. The Thunderbirds play their next game on Wednesday night against Narragansett/NK/SK Co-op (2-2-1) at Boss Arena at URI.
“It’s going to be a long season only because I’ve got a lot of new girls that have never ever played hockey,” Bessette explained. “I’ve got two really good freshmen, Mia and Davin who can play. But they’re kind of by themselves because they’re the only two, and I put Ashley Smedberg with them.”
Smedberg is a senior left wing.
“She’s a senior captain,” Bessette said. “She goes out there, she plugs along, she plays hard, she’s very aggressive, and she’s one of the ones that mucks it up in the corner in front of the net and gets the scrappy goals for us.”
“Those are the only three girls that have played organized hockey at all,” Bessette continued. “We lost a lot losing Abbi Sampson and the Brady twins and my daughter Rylie and my niece Alexia, and of course losing Hannah (Slaiby), last year’s goaltender. That’s a big loss for any team. It’s hard for us to recoup that offense and defense and it’s going to be a rebuilding year this year.”
The Thunderbirds also lost Abby Ainley, who left for prep school along with her younger sister, a freshman goaltender.
“So, that’s a big loss in itself,” Bessette said. “Those two, they would have helped this team out a lot. But I can’t fault the parents for sending them to prep school. So, it’s a rebuilding year, and we’ll see what we have as freshmen coming up next year and see how it goes from there.”
“But I’ve got to say it’s probably one of the brightest teams that we’ve had because they’re all cheering for each other,” Bessette concluded. “They all know that they’ve never played hockey before and it makes it fun for us as coaches just because they’re coachable and they want to learn. So, that’s where we’re at this year. It’s about coaching and teaching the girls how to play the game.”