Keeping pace

West tops Toll Gate to stay in playoff hunt


The Cranston West Falcons overpowered the Toll Gate Titans 6-3 on Friday night during a Division II boys hockey tilt at Thayer Arena.

The Falcons offense was topped by senior forwards Cam Koretsky and Dylan Demers, who each tallied two goals plus an assist, and Andrew Martin, a junior forward, who added a goal and two assists.

Max Savaria, a junior forward, led the Titans with two goals, and Gerard Schifino, a freshman defenseman, added two assists.

In net, Nathan O’Keefe, a Toll Gate sophomore, had 31 saves while West junior Mathew Corrente made 20 stops.

“Matt’s a first-year starter for us,” Falcons head coach Matt Brannon said. “So, he’s going through the highs and lows of high school hockey. He’s had some high and low games, but he battled tonight and luckily made enough saves for us to come out on top. So, it was a confidence builder for him.”

West took a 1-0 advantage at 9:13 of the first period when Koretsky lit the lamp for a power-play goal after assists from Martin and Demers. 

Next, at 13:37 of the opening frame, the Falcons earned another power play tally and upped their margin to 2-0 when Martin put the puck top shelf, following assists from Koretsky and Josh Zambarano.

Then, Demers fired a one-timer into the back of net, after a cross from Tom Harper, just under three minutes into the second frame, and that ballooned the Falcons cushion to 3-0. Martin was also credited with an assist on the goal.

Toll Gate would inch within 3-1 at 6:04 of the second frame when Savaria scored a power play goal from the left side, behind passes from Schifino and Colin Meunier.

Then at 9:59 of the middle frame, Savaria secured his second tally, during a breakaway, after an assist from Schifino and it got the Titans within 3-2.

Next, with just 5.4 seconds remaining in the second period, Toll Gate tied the game at 3 when Nathaniel McCamish, a senior forward, scored a power-play goal from in front, after an assist from freshman forward Sean Mullaney.

Nonetheless, four minutes and 50 seconds into the final frame, the Falcons drew a 4-3 edge when Zambarano earned an unassisted tally.

West increased its buffer to 5-3 when Demers scored in front, four minutes later, following passes from Harper and Noah Amaral.

Then, the Falcons then expanded their threshold to 6-3 when Koretsky scored a power-play goal after an assist from Amaral.

“We were undisciplined in the second period,” Brannon said. “We kind of self-imploded with a few penalties to allow them back in the game. And we let the kids know that we were proud of them for the way they played the first period, but we collapsed in the second period. But it’s a senior-led group and they weren’t going to let this one slip away. They knew that they blew a three-goal lead and it was important for them to rally the troops and come back out, and we rallied in the third period.”

The victory was the second in a row for the Falcons and it improved them to 4-4 in league play.

“We got off to a slow start,” Brannon said. “We’re starting to play with confidence and that’s the most important thing. We’re heading into that final stretch that we need to be building towards the playoffs and hopefully make a deep playoff run. Like I said, it’s a senior-led group and we’re just trying to put it all together. Have good weeks of practice, and then hopefully it translates over the weekends.”

The Falcons are improving at the right time and hope to overcome their early season struggles.

“Before the game, I told the kids we shot ourselves in the foot a few times with a few games where we’d like our record to be a little bit better, but from here on out, it’s going to be a playoff game every time we play,” Brannon emphasized. “So, hopefully the kids can rise up and, like I said, it’s a senior group, so they know what’s expected at this point and they play better with pressure on them.”

West traveled to Dartmouth on Monday afternoon and fell 5-0 during a non-league contest. Next, the Falcons host West Warwick/Exeter - West Greenwich on Thursday afternoon in another non-league duel.



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