WEST WARWICK- The game was heavily anticipated, as it featured the top two teams in Division III going at one another late in the season, but Monday’s showdown between The Knight-Wizards and Ponaganset Chieftains had a more important component to it, one that extended beyond the hockey rink. With freshman Alexis Field’s recent Leukemia diagnosis, the outpouring of support from the community has been inspirational. That would extend to the hockey rink as well, where the Knight-Wizards decided to have all proceeds from their game donated to the Field family in their ongoing battle.
Prior to the game, both the Knight-Wizards and Chieftains gathered at center ice, holding up sings that spelled out #TeamAlexis in a showing of solidarity. Sophomore Austin Laramee then led a brief prayer before play got underway.
As for the game itself, the result was not one worthy of celebration, as the Knight-Wizards were unable to end the Chieftains’ perfect season in a 4-1 defeat. The loss dropped them to 8-3-0 in league play, while Ponaganset improved to 11-0-0 with the win. Michael Marfeo was in net for the Knight-Wizards and turned in a solid performance, but was outdone by his
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counterpart Curtis Briggs, who allowed just one goal on the afternoon.
Play would start over an hour later than scheduled due to miscommunication regarding the referees for the day, but once it did, Ponaganset wasted little time getting on the board first. Freshman forward Nathan Watts netted the game’s first goal on a shot assisted by Thomas Caine. It would be the only goal scored by either side in a fast paced, penalty free first period.
Just beyond the midway mark of the ensuing period, the Knight-Wizards were able to get on the board and even the score up, rejuvenating the home fans that were growing restless with each passing minute. Sophomore Nick Pecchia got a shot past Briggs, with the double assist going to Alex Ventura and Zach Magiera. The re-charged crowd was suddenly quieted moments later when the Chieftains reclaimed the lead. With 51 seconds remaining on a power play, forward Nathan Morin made good on a shot assisted by Watts, as the visitors were suddenly back out in front, 2-1.
The Knight-Wizards appeared to have a golden opportunity to answer back when Ponaganset’s Nicholas Ferrucci was whistled for interference with 3:12 to go in the period, but the man advantage would wind up backfiring for WW/E-EWG. With 57 seconds left on the penalty, it was Watts scoring a short-handed goal to make it 3-1.
The third and final period featured just one goal for either side, which unfortunately for the Knight-Wizards went to the other team, as Watts scored an unassisted goal to make it 4-1, essentially putting the game out of reach.
While the loss was a disappointment, head coach Peter Ethier knew that there were more important things going on that day, citing Alexis Field’s battle as greater than any his team will ever face on the ice.
“That’s bigger than any game. Whatever that poor kid has to go through right now is going to be difficult and we’re all praying for the best,” he said.
As for his team’s performance, he felt that it was not one of their best.
“We weren’t ourselves today. We didn’t move the puck well, we didn’t skate well. They were beating us to the puck. That was probably the worst game I’ve seen my team play all year,” he said.
He credited Marfeo for keeping his team in the game, but added that as a whole, everyone needs to play better.