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Ponaganset 14 Scituate 1

February 23, 2015
Ponaganset Co-Captain Derek Merchant

Ponaganset Co-Captain Derek Merchant

(Burrillville, RI)  Co-captains Derek Merchant and James Manni combined for five goals and four assists and eight different Chieftains scored goals as Ponaganset shook off their first loss of the season to fly past Scituate 14-1 Saturday night at Levy Arena.

Less than 24 hours after having their 13-game winning streak snapped by West Warwick/Exeter/West Greenwich at the West Warwick Civic Center, the Rhode Island Division III leaders wasted no time in displaying to the home crowd that the loss was, already, in their rear-view mirror as Ponaganset (14-1) blistered the visiting Spartans for seven goals in the first period en route to the romp.

Nate Morin opened the barrage only 1:57 into the game with his 26th goal, assisted by Manni, and chalked up an assist of his own 56 seconds later on Ethan Sederback’s 12th goal. Sederback returned the favor, along with Josh D’Alessio, as Morin added his 27th goal of the season 6:31 into the game to stretch the Chieftains’ lead to 3-0. 37 seconds later, Manni found the back of the net for his 17th goal, unassisted, and assisted on Merchant’s first goal of the night less than two minutes later for a 5-0 advantage. With 4:46 remaining in the opening period, Nick Ferrucci scored an unassisted goal, his third of the campaign and D’Alessio capped the first period outburst 57 seconds later with his 12th marker, assisted by Morin.

As if the contest wasn’t already decided after the opening 15 minutes, the Chieftains added an exclamation point in the opening minute of the second period.

Tom Caine caged his fourth goal of the season, unassisted, only 33 seconds into the middle stanza. 12 seconds later, Dan Richardson scored his fourth goal, assisted by Merchant, who, in turn, cashed in 11 seconds later, unassisted, with his second goal of the night to give Ponaganset a 10-0 lead in less than 16 minutes of play. After a 13-plus minute stretch of scoreless hockey which, likely, gave the official scorers time to relax their over-worked hands and fingers, Merchant recorded his hat trick with his 20th goal of the year, assisted by Manni, with 36 seconds showing on the second period clock. Matt Besser was able to break the shutout 17 seconds later as he put the puck past Ponaganset goaltender Tyler Petrella with assist for Noah Petrarca.

With an 11-1 lead, Ponaganset continued their dominance on both ends of the ice as Sederback added an unassisted tally, his 13th, only 56 minutes into the final period. Manni and Caine added unassisted goals, at the 2:49 and 5:10 mark, respectively, to conclude the scoring for the first-place Chieftains.

Petrella stopped 12 of 13 Scituate shots on net while the Spartans’ net-minder, Ethan Joslin, was peppered by the Ponaganset offense, recording, only, 27 saves on 41 shots.

The Chieftains return to the ice this weekend as they face West Warwick/Exeter/West Greenwich at Levy Arena Saturday at 7:00PM in a game that will, likely, decide the Division III regular season championship. Meanwhile, Scituate takes on West Warwick/Exeter/West Greenwich at the West Warwick Civic Center Friday night at 7:00.

Chieftains Post-Game Comments:

Co-Captain Derek Merchant describing the team’s state of mind as they returned to the ice less than 24 hours after suffering their first loss of the season: “After our first loss last night, it helped us realize that we aren’t invincible. Going into tonight’s game against Scituate, we wanted to come up with a quick lead and work on everything we could have improved on against West Warwick. We are looking forward to a hard-working week of practice for our final meeting against them (West Warwick/Exeter/West Greenwich) on Saturday.”

Merchant on the team’s coaches’ and players’ plans and goals with three games remaining in the regular season: “We have to skate hard the next few weeks. Our final three games are against West Warwick, Warwick Vets and Johnston/North Providence, All three teams know how to move the puck well, so we have to work for these last three wins. As a team, we are excited to play the final three games and get ready for a well-earned playoff run.”

Merchant, when asked about the support the team gets at games, both home and away, at school and in the community: “The support we get from everyone is amazing! They have been a huge help for us every game and all of us really appreciate it. They motivate us before, during and after games. We think of them as a part of the team – not just the students at Ponaganset High School – but, also, all the parents and, even, those who cheer us on from different states. They are all, truly, amazing.”

Chieftains Game Notes:

Petrella and fellow goaltender Curtis Briggs have combined for a goals-against average of 0.93 in league games, which is second-best in Rhode Island behind Cumberland’s 0.87 and the team’s 1.00 mark is the best in the state. Both numbers continue to rank among the elite in the nation.

Ponaganset remains ranked second, offensively, at 7.2 goals per game and trail, only, the pace of 7.7 by West Warwick/Exeter/West Greenwich.

The Chieftains have five of the top 15 scorers in the state. Morin is tied for second in overall points (43) and goals (27). Merchant ranks seventh in goals (20) and points (32). Sederback is fourth in assists (18) and ninth in points (31), D’Alessio is tied for fifth in assists (16) and 14th in points (28) while Manni, also, has 28 points and is eighth in goals (18).

Ponaganset swept the three-game series with Scituate, outscoring the Spartans 41-3.

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