WEST WARWICK â Narragansett boys hockey coach Chris Lussier had seven simple words for his team moments before the start of Wednesdayâs game against undefeated West Warwick/Exeter-West Greenwich.
âMake them beat you,â he said, âfive on five.â
The message went unheard.
West Warwick/Exeter-West Greenwich converted three power plays in the first two periods into three quick goals while the Mariners converted only one all game â and it came when things were well in hand - in the Knight-Wizardsâ 4-1 win Wednesday at Magiera Memorial Ice Rink Wednesday night.
âWe have good confidence on the power play,â said WW/EWGâs Brett Coski, who scored two goals. âWe can move the puck, get them out of position and put the puck in the net.â
âOur goal differential five on five is on the positive side,â Lussier said. âAgain, West Warwick has a great power play, moved the puck well and if you allow teams to do that, youâre going to get burnt.â
The story should have ended with WW/EWGâs offensive wizardry, but the third period turned into a dirty affair with the teams racking up 12 penalties for a total of 16 minutes, 30 seconds, including a major game disqualification on WW/EWGâs Dean Brown for a hit to the head on Narragansettâs Kurt Richardson. Brown was ejected and Richardson was helped off the ice.
With 1.8 seconds left the game was stopped after a scrum in front of net ended in a cross-check called on the Knight-Wizards' Justin Lake.
âI told my guys they know I donât stand for that but I think the referees let it get out of control,â WW/EWG coach Peter Ethier said. âA couple of our guys got mugged down there, pushed over the goalie and they donât call a penalty; they come down here and my guy goes like this [with his hands and stick up] and they call a penalty.
âIt kind of got out of hand and I think the other team was a little bit chippy because we were ahead 3-0. The last six minutes of the game was not enjoyable to me.â
âThat canât happen. That throws off all our games and makes other coaches and players think weâre goons and weâre just going to go out and take someoneâs head off,â Coski said. âWeâre great players, know how to play hockey and we play hockey the right way.â
WW/EWG (9-0 Division III) is the top scoring team in D-III by a mile, averaging over eight goals per game heading into the game against Narragansett. The Mariners (4-4 Division III) arenât struggling in the scoring department, averaging over five goals per game, but Wednesday night came down to converting chances.
The Knight-Wizards scored one in the first and two in the second and all three came immediately following Narragansett penalties.
The first was a bit of a fluke. Following a high stick on Narragansettâs Andrew Morvan, WW/EWGâs Brett Coski took a shot from the right wing that got past keeper Dolci Wagner â who finished with 25 saves - wide left, but the puck deflected off the chest of as Narragansettâs Connor McKnight, who came sliding in to help on the back side, for a goal.
âIt was a weak shot. It made it to the net and thatâs all that matters,â said Coski, a freshman at West Warwick. âI was happy it went in. Iâll look for a stronger shot next time, but you take what you can get.â
In the second, an elbow by Narragansettâs Cam Fossa gave WW/EWG another power play and nine seconds later, Josh Marco put away a rebound after Troy Sankeyâs shot was saved by Wagner to make it 2-0 with 7:01 left until intermission.
A penalty was called after the goal on Narragansettâs Erik Sterling, giving the Knight-Wizards another power play and 55 seconds later Coski got his second goal of the game on an assist from Tony Rei and Sankey.
âIf we go out there and play hockey like we practice every week â we practice on the power play every Thursday so I know itâs fresh in their minds - and if they move the puck,â Ethier said, âI donât think there is a better team on the power play.â
âThey were 3-for-3 on their first three power plays and we were 0-for-3 on the PK,â Lussier said. âYou canât give a team like that opportunities. Thereâs no recipe for success when you do that.â
Narragansett played its best hockey in the third, where it took 12 of its 20 shots. Knight-Wizardsâ keeper Ivan Forcier turned away several in the early portion of the period to keep the Mariners at bay before âGansett got on the board on a goal by Dylan Jardon that was assisted by Brody Wise.
It didnât change the outcome of the game, but Lussier was pleased with what he saw in the third period, especially coming off Mondayâs 5-2 loss to Tolman and a game against East Providence coming up Friday night at Boss Arena at 7 p.m.
âThe way we battled in the third, we had opportunities to put pucks in the net, I think thatâs something we can probably build off,â Lussier said. âIâve yet to see us face adversity and kind of step in the face of adversity and man up up until that point.â
The Knight-Wizards wonât be back on the ice until Saturday, Jan. 12 at Magiera at 6 p.m. for a game against Tolman, which is in second place in Division III at 6-1-1. WW/EWG beat Tolman 5-4 in overtime on Dec. 28. It gives the team plenty of time to focus in what will be a big game for both teams.
âSome of the players are getting overconfident, trying to win every game and trying to be the best; some are just taking it game by game,â Coski said.