WEST WARWICK – When the dead of summer sets in, the idea of ice hockey has a tendency to be far from the mind.
For the members of the North Kingstown High hockey team, however, it is was out of the heat and back to the cool of the rink as they once again took part in the Rhode Island Summer Hockey League.
It was a season that came to a close last Thursday, as the Skippers were defeated 7-4 by East Greenwich High at Margiera Rink in West Warwick.
Though the Avengers might have ended the day with a comfortable, three-goal win, the score was not necessarily indicative of how close the back-and-forth contest truly played according to Skippers summer league coach Bob Nabb.
Rather, it was more of a once tight contest that slipped away in the third on some bad breaks for North.
“It was a good up-and-down game, particularly for the summer,” Nabb said following the contest. “The kids still had the legs in them [in the third], I think the ice just gave away.
“Actually, I thought it was a pretty good up-and-down game, pretty even game.”
The Skippers got off to a good start in the game, keeping heavy pressure on Avengers goaltender Brandon Flemming early, and were the first to get on the board when Adam Nabb put away the game’s first goal at 4:56.
As the pace of play evened out and the first period flowed back and forth, East Greenwich put up a pair of quick strikes less than two minutes apart to take the lead near mid-period.
North, however, staged the first of two late period rallies to get back to even as Ryan Nabb scored at 12:35 to make it 2-2 heading into the second.
East Greenwich began to seize control of play to start the second, eventually regaining the lead and then extending it to 4-2 as both Paul and Jim Dunwoody scored early in the frame.
Yet, with the game looking as though it was going decidedly in the Avengers favor as the period rolled along, North struck late to once again even the score.
A power play goal by Cam Minor and unassisted tally by Liam Rial, both coming with less than two minutes left in the second, sent the game to the third tied 4-4.
Yet, as ice has a tendency to do in the summer humidity, conditions on the surface deteriorated late in the game and there was no late period comeback to be had for the Skippers a third time.
Once again near mid-period, the Avengers put up another pair as Paul Dunwoody completed his hat trick at 6:07 and Pierre Genest scored his first at 8:14 to make it 6-4.
North had their opportunities in the final 15, but could not get any more past Flemming before Mike Ranalli put the game out of reach with his second goal of the game at 13:17 of the third period, bringing the score to its final 7-4.
The loss to the Avengers capped a tough summer in terms of their record, but also capped a summer season that saw a young Skippers squad perform admirably well against some of the state’s better talent.
Playing out of Division II during the winter, North Kingstown took a step up for summer league, competing against teams comprised of players from Division I schools Hendricken, LaSalle and Coventry, and Moses Brown, who transitioned for the Interscholastic League to playing in the New England prep school league last winter.
They held their own most nights this summer, the real key for a team that has just three returning seniors this winter is the early jump and experience the young Skippers will have when the real season begins.
“We had a very young team. Most of the team is incoming freshmen, sophomores and juniors,” said North’s coach of the summer squad. “We’re a very young team and we’re playing in the top division here so I was very, very happy with the kids’ play. They played clean, they played hard, they played good hockey.
“I think for the incoming freshmen it’s good for them because they’re playing with kids two, three years older than them, which is what happens in high school. For the freshmen, I think they’re in awe the first couple games of the season, like ‘Oh my god, I’m playing against 18-year old men.’ So for those 14-year old boys it’s a good experience for them.”
With three months left before the winter season begins, only time will tell how beneficial the summer will be for the Skippers. Good, bad or indifferent, however, the summer season was still a success in the eyes of their coach.
“Very happy,” said Nabb. “…I think the kids had fun. We got beat pretty good one or two games, otherwise we had some great games. Great one, two-goal games and that’s all you can ask for.”