West Warwick – East Greenwich threw all strategy and game planning out the window, but their talented seniors went with the flow of the game and were able to pick up two first-period goals against Coventry standout senior goaltender Ryan Clifford, beating the Oakers 2-1. It was another underwhelming offensive performance for Coventry at the Benny Magiera Memorial Ice Rink, as the Oakers only managed a single goal in support of their goaltender’s 23-save effort.
The loss counted against Coventry’s division record, bringing them to 4-5-0 in the Eccleston Division and 4-5-1 overall, but the win only counted as a non-league game for the Avengers, who stay in the Division II mix at 6-4 and 6-5 overall.
EG took the first penalty – two minutes for cross checking – just under ten minutes into the game. With 19 seconds left to go on the penalty, senior John Ferguson put the Avengers up 1-0 with a short-handed goal at seven minutes. Assists went to fellow seniors Max Hagenberg and Christopher Pearson. Ferguson leads the RIIL with goals scored and total points. He’s scored 18 goals with 7 assists for 25 points. Hagenberg is ranked fourth with 11 goals and 11 assists for 22 points. At 11:56 in the first, Earl Merrick scored with an assist from Andrew McCall. The score was 2-0 at the end of one period.
In the second period, both teams had two penalties totaling four minutes each, and neither team scored a goal. With the second period nearing its end, Ferguson looked to increase his team’s lead skating toward Clifford one-on-one, but the towering goalie stopped the puck dead in the center of the net. The score was 2-0 when the Zamboni came out. Coventry’s only goal came 37 seconds into the third period when Patrick Egan scored a power-play goal with assistance from Koyle Bankauskas and Adam Hassell.
“We played much better and with a lot more discipline than we had in the previous three games,” EG head coach Sean Fahey said. “That goalie is good; he did a great job tonight. You have to almost get him moving left and right – we had too many opportunities where we had a chance to square up. Goalies usually open up when they move left to right.”
“It always feels good to win a game,” Fahey continued. “When you play a team that’s a division ahead of you, there’s something special. Especially winning a one-goal game when you have struggled with [one-goal games] and having played as good defense as they did down the stretch. East Greenwich was division one six, seven years ago. It’s tough to maintain that level, especially with a small school.”
“We’ve gone 180 minutes now without a goal five-on-five,” Coventry head coach Kenneth Bird said. “That’s four games in a row. Clifford brings it every night. The score was 2-1 because he didn’t play so great.”
On the season, Clifford has allowed 16 goals and stopped 210 shots. His .929 save percentage is best out of goalies with over 150 saves.
“We struggled to make a pass; we struggled to collect the pass,” Bird continued. “In the game of hockey, if you can’t do that it doesn’t look very pretty. We get pinned in our zone because we can’t make a pass and we can’t collect a pass. It’s the same issue all over the ice, that’s why we don’t score.”
Coventry play 5-3 Eccleston foe Cumberland at Magiera then visit D-II North Smithfield at Adelard Arena.
“We moved one of our forwards back to defense, we worked on it all week,” Fahey said. “The goaltender was our backup goaltender [Isaac Carlson], but we need to get him games now and then. He’s 2-0 on the season; he’s done very well. I’m just lucky to have two really good goaltenders.”
“We have seven seniors who are all contributing to the program in one way or another,” Fahey said. “If we don’t get injured or hurt, and they play with the discipline they showed tonight we should be right in the mix at the end of the year. There’s four teams in Division II that are maybe a little bit better than the bottom four, but the bottom four have improved dramatically – the Toll Gates, the Pilgrims – and they are playing everybody tough. Toll Gate beat us last week; their goaltender played spectacular and the team played good. We’ve got to have discipline, discipline is how you win games.”
EG plays three in a row at Magiera against 3-5 Pilgrim, 2-6-1 South Kingstown and division-leading Portsmouth.