CRANSTON – East Greenwich girls are playing a large role in the much-improved Cranston/EG hockey co-op team, who moved to 2-5 on the season with a 5-0 win over the South County Storm (1-5) on Saturday night at Cranston Veterans Memorial Ice Rink.
“Our record is deceiving,” Thunderbird head coach P.J. Bessette said. “Compared with where we were last year. We played La Salle last year, and we’d lose 9-0 by the end of the second period. This year, we lost 3-0, and they had two power-play goals. Mount St. Charles, same thing, they usually beat us 7,8,9-0. They beat us 4-2 the other night, and they had two power-play goals and a shorthanded goal.”
“The girls are learning,” Bessette continued. “They are getting better. I have some skill girls this year, who are seniors, and it’s helping. It’s brought us up to the level that we’re competing with these teams.”
“They’re a solid squad,” Storm head coach Dave Cannon said of Cranston. “They’ve been getting better and better over the last couple of years. They are looking to make some moves this year.”
The Thunderbirds went up 3-0 in the first period with consistent pressure and nine shots, and they didn’t look back, scoring twice in the second period and getting their third win on the year behind a shutout from senior captain and goaltender Hanna Slaiby. The Storm out-shot them in the first and third periods and exactly tied them at 28 to end things, but their opportunities came on second chances and in clusters of traffic, as opposed to the Thunderbird’s cleaner early looks.
Cranston West freshman Abbi Ainley made it 1-0 on an unassisted goal at 2:39 in the first period. Senior assist captain Abbi Sampson, the Thunderbird’s leading scorer on the year with eight goals and four assists for 12 points, made it 2-0 at 5:20 with an assist from Ainley. Senior Lindsey Brady (four goals and three assists for seven points) scored an unassisted goal at 7:40, flicking a high shot from just outside the left of the goal crease over Storm senior goalie and captain Peyton Newman’s right shoulder.
The Thunderbirds made it 4-0 10 minutes into the second period on Samson’s second goal and Brady’s first assist. Brady made it 5-0 on an assist from EG sophomore Rosalina Caliri (two goals and seven assists on the season).
Newman stopped 23 goals for the Storm, while Slaiby had 28 saves.
“We have 29 players,” Bessette said. “About half are EG girls. They’ve come along way. Besides, Lindsey and Lauren Brady and Hannah Slaiby, not one girl from EG has ever played youth hockey. They’ve learned by coming here and practicing with us.”
“At the beginning, it was always a Cranston-based squad,” Bessette said. “Coach Matt [Davies] and I try to make it fun for everybody. It’s a learning experience. A lot of these girls are never going to go on and play college hockey, so we get a lot of interest where the girls just want to come out, have fun, and play hockey.”
“That’s where we get these East Greenwich girls,” Bessette said. “They’re friends of friends, and they want to play, and they’re having a lot of fun. My daughter is one of the ones on the team from Cranston, and she is very good friends with some girls who have graduated and some girls on the team who are from East Greenwich. It’s a great thing for both sides.”
The EG presence has increased on the team since they joined on in the 2011-‘12 season. There are 12 EG girls on the team, including three seniors: the Bradys and Slaiby. The EG juniors on the team are Ainsley Almeida, Elizabeth Amelotte, Ana Caliri, and Amy Yang. Ireleigh Bucci, Rosalina Caliri, and Maya Maguire represent the EG sophomore class, and there are two Avenger freshmen, Mollie Conville, and Chase Hirshorn.
In 2018-19, the Thunderbirds have already matched their win total from the previous four seasons combined, and those two wins came in the 2015-‘16 campaign when they went 2-15. Last season they went 0-14-2-1.
Cranston/EG next play Toll Gate/Pilgrim/Prout at Thayer Arena on Friday, January 11 at 7:30.