PROVIDENCE — The sixth-seeded Narragansett/Chariho co-op hockey team was edged 2-1 by the top-seeded Portsmouth Patriots during the Division II hockey semifinals at Providence College’s Schneider Arena on Sunday evening.
The game was tied into the third period, when Portsmouth tallied the game-winner and held off the Gulls.
“It was one of those games that could have gone either way,” Nariho head coach Ryan Meade said. “One shot away from taking the lead early. Kind of just had a play that didn’t go our way towards the end of the game. But the effort was there. Everything was right there. We were knocking on the doorstep and it was just one of those games that could have gone either way for either team. And unfortunately, it didn’t go our way.”
Portsmouth will face Rogers/Middletown/Tiverton in the state championship game.
The Patriots outshot Nariho 28-21 on Sunday. Patriots senior goaltender Stephen Dutra finished the day with 20 saves while Gulls junior goaltender Mason Campbell had 26 stops.
Portsmouth drew a 1-0 lead at 6:35 of the opening period when freshman Finnbahr O’Connor slipped a shot just underneath the left pad of Campbell, after an assist from Steven Madden.
Less than five minutes later, Nariho forward Jacob Correira evened the score at 1-1 when he fired in a shot, after Dutra, the Portsmouth goaltender, mishandled the puck and it fell to the ice.
“It’s just one of those plays where we attacked the net and he (Dutra) kind of fumbled the rebound and Jacob was there to pounce it in,” Meade said. “I wish we could have jumped on a little more of those. We definitely had opportunities to jump on rebounds, and that was kind of the message to our team, that when we shoot, we have to go to the net ready to score and go hard.”
Madden registered the game-winning tally at 9:11 of the third period when the defenseman blasted a slap-shot, from just in front of the blue line, toward the goal, and the puck ricocheted off a couple of players before finding the back of the net.
“It was just one of those plays where the puck kind of fumbled in front and bounced off a couple people and it was just one of those unlucky bounces that we have in hockey,” Meade said. “It was kind of just a little puck-luck for them. It was one of those situations in hockey where you kind of wish they could have earned that goal a little more. And it was just an unlucky bounce, and it didn’t go our way, unfortunately.”
Meade felt his squad outplayed its opponent for the majority of the contest and he thinks his players should be proud of their efforts.
“I told them with that type of game, it sucks to walk out of here not getting the win, but when we walk out of the locker room, our heads are up because it was a successful year, and a lot of other teams aren’t here playing for the opportunity that we had, to be one shot away from a state championship,” Meade said.
It was another hugely successful season for the Gulls. Still not far removed from six straight seasons with fewer than three wins, Nariho followed up last year’s D-III runner-up finish with a move up to D-II and another deep postseason run.
“We had a great series in the first round of the playoffs and took a good team to a 1-1 game late into the third of this one and just got a bounce that didn’t go our way,” Meade said. “It happens in hockey, just unfortunately, we didn’t get the bounce tonight.”
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