Big finish for our local teams

Posted 3/10/21

The Beacon Communications coverage area had four teams claim championships over the weekend. What I loved about these four teams is that each had a different storyline. Now, up front, the Bishop Hendricken hockey team's situation is not ideal, which I'll

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Big finish for our local teams


The Beacon Communications coverage area had four teams claim championships over the weekend. What I loved about these four teams is that each had a different storyline. Now, up front, the Bishop Hendricken hockey team’s situation is not ideal, which I’ll get into, but from strictly an interest standpoint it was intriguing despite it being unfortunate.

Let’s take a look.

We might as well start with the Hawks’ hockey team.

Last Friday just hours before puck drop of game 1 of the Division I Championship series, it was discovered that the Mount. St. Charles team had a positive test which eventually led to the teams deciding to cancel the series and award each club the title of “co-champion.”

First off, I feel horrible for each team. These kids have worked so hard on and off the ice and had to go through so much to begin with. To get the carpet pulled out from under them during the championship series … pretty much the worst case scenario.

Not only that, but this series was looking like it was going to be as even as could be. The Hawks were the hottest team in Division I and Mount was the top seed. The Mounties’ lone blemish in the regular season came at the hands of Hendricken in a tie. It just seemed like these teams were destined for a three-game series.

I guess the teams can take pride in the fact that they are co-champs. Well of course to make it to the finals is a great accomplishment either way, but I’d assume the kids don’t feel totally fulfilled. At the end of the day though, being a co-champion is better than runner up. Congrats to each club on a great season.

Next is the Cranston co-op boys hockey team which won the Division II tournament over North Kingstown in two games.

This is my favorite story in terms of being happy for the athletes.

Cranston had come up short in the previous two years, each in the semifinals. The Falcons always seemed to be the dark horse and on the brink of breaking through, but for one reason or another, just couldn't put it all together when it counted most.

This season, the kids were hungry and it showed. The top of Division II was a dog fight between Cranston, North Kingstown, Warwick, and a few other teams. The Falcons hung in there and went 4-0 in postseason play.

For those kids, especially the ones that came so close the past two seasons, what a great way to end the year. Being a champion and knowing that you had what it took to get the job done. They probably had enough the previous two seasons, it just did not come to fruition.

I must say, the hockey scene in central Rhode Island is the strongest in the state at the moment. I don’t know how you can argue otherwise.

Sure, the northern teams like Mount, Burrillville, the Smithfields, they are all worthy of praise and historically are top dogs. But right here, right now, Central RI takes the cake.

Hendricken was a finalist with a 50-50 shot at winning. Cranston won in DII, Warwick was not far off and also had enough to win had the puck bounced in its favor. I had a blast the past few weeks covering these runs and am looking forward to next season to see where these teams pick back up.

On the court, Hendricken repeated as Division I champs with an overtime win over Classical.

The Hawks were the favorites heading into the season, but Classical deserves a ton of credit. The Purple took the top seed into the tournament, beat the Hawks in the regular season and nearly got it done over the weekend.

However, the Hawks’ experience was just too much in my opinion. Sure, Hendricken’s talent and depth was outstanding, it’s coaching and system is nearly full-proof, all of that, but experience and poise is what ultimately set these two teams apart.

A few weeks back, I watched the Hawks overcome multiple deficits to tie the score against Barrington with less than 1 second remaining in regulation. In overtime, the Hawks outscored the Eagles 12-2 to take the 10-point victory.

In the semis, La Salle tied the score in the final minute to force overtime. It seemed as though the momentum would be on the Rams’ side and the Hawks would be on the ropes. Once again though, Hendricken rolled to a lopsided overtime score to reach the finals. By looking at the score alone, you’d never know it went to overtime.

Then in the championship, same old, it was over midway through the four-minute extra period.

The Hawks were the most poised team in the state this season and that stems from their experience in big games. Year after year, Hendricken is in it, and in years like this, it is a huge factor. Like I said, they had everything they needed, but what put them over the top was that seasoning. No deficit was too large, there always seemed to be enough time to turn things around.

We’ll see how it goes next winter, I’d say it’s pretty safe to assume that the Hawks will be there until the very end, but which team will get the next crack at them to pull off the upset? I’m also looking forward to welcoming back the statewide tournament. Should be fun.

Lastly, Hendricken swim took home another title. The Hawks have only come up short once in the past 30 years. It is unlike any run I have seen in the high school sports that I’ve covered.

You can say whatever you want about it being a private school that attracts the top athletes. That’s obviously true, there’s no denying that. But for this club to win nearly every year for three decades? Something must be in the water (pun intended).

Coach Dave Hanson is a difference maker, how could he not be? Hendricken’s clout also attracts the best swimmers. But this is bordering on a phenomenon. I just can’t wrap my head around it, especially since there is some great swimming in the state, too.

I hate not being able to offer a true answer, but I can’t put my finger on it. Hendricken has plenty of teams, and all are successful, but the success of the swim team is freaky. That is a total compliment by the way.

What a winter season. Congrats to our champions.

My Pitch, sports


No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment