Falcons fly to semis

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The Cranston West boys hockey team cruised to a 2-0 series sweep over Rogers/Middletown/Rocky Hill last week in the Division II quarterfinals, winning the first game 4-3 the second 8-1.

RMR got the better of the teams’ matchup in the regular season, and would once again give the Falcons everything that they could handle in the first matchup of the series.

After pulling ahead 1-0 in the first period on a Josh Zambarano goal, RMR would score consecutive goals to take the 2-1 lead early in the second. However, the Falcons would respond with three straight goals of their own to regain the 4-2 lead which would be sustained the rest of the way.

Zambarano finished with three goals in the win, while Jaycob Hargreaves added another.

The Falcons would hit the road in Game 2, and would once again surge offensively to win 8-1. West would go on a 4-0 run in the opening 18 minutes of play, getting three goals from Andrew Martin and another from Hargreaves. After an RMR score, the Falcons would surge for another 4-0 run to wrap up the win. Cam Koretsky, David Sczerbinski, Dylan Demers and Ben Jacvony scored in the run.

“The first game was a nail biter until the end, but we expected to get (RMR’s) best anyway. They were a scrappy team all year and they had our number when we first met them … their confidence was high and they knew that they could play with us,” said West coach Matt Brannon, who also credited his team’s depth in the series. “Prior to Game 2 at practice, I challenged our depth guys because we figured that part of (RMR’s) game plan would be to take out our two best guys in Koretsky and Hargreaves. Our third line came up big for us, I couldn’t have asked for anything more from them. That line was hugely influential in that game.”

Although the talk of the series was the high-flying Falcon offense, the West defense also played efficiently, surrendering a combined four goals in two games.

“(Goalie) Robert Miller has been tremendous for us. He’s a kid that didn’t play for the past two years with an all-state goaltender in front of him, so kudos to him for competing and being in this pressure situation that he has never been in. He played tremendously both Friday and Saturday and made some great saves. We got some contributions from our defensemen, Noah Amaral, Luke Cavalloro, Jack Drohen, Ben Kopsick and Ryan Demers. We’ve been rolling five defensemen so we’ve been able to keep everyone fresh and their play had dictated the way we’ve played all season, and Robert has given them confidence in the back,” said Brannon.

The Falcons will now face undefeated top seed Cumberland, who cruised to a 6-0 shutout over West late in the regular season.

“We mentally checked out once the score was 2-0 and we didn’t compete for the rest of the game. It should be a good series, we were both in Division I last year and we’ve had our battles. They’ve had an excellent season so far, they’re 18-0 and are the top dog. Hopefully we can give them our best effort and have best weekend of the season,” said Brannon, who will once again rely on his offensive depth in the semis. “It’s going to be about getting three lines going and making their defensemen have to retrieve the puck. If we can tire them out and get our forecheck going, that’s our strong suit. Getting deep and putting pressure on their D, their goalie doesn’t get pressured a whole lot, so if we can put up at least 15 shots per game, I like our chances.”

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