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West Warwick 6 Ponaganset 2

March 2, 2015
Ponaganset Co-Captain Derek Merchant has scored goals in 13 of 16 games this season

Ponaganset Co-Captain Derek Merchant has scored goals in 13 of 16 games this season

(Burrillville, RI)  Anthony Ventura registered his seventh hat trick of the season and visiting West Warwick/Exeter/West Greenwich Co-op blew open a close game midway through the second period to cruise to a 6-2 victory over Ponaganset Saturday night at Levy Arena.

The co-leaders in Rhode Island’s Division-III hockey faced off for the third time this season with each team handing its opponent their only loss of the season entering Saturday night’s tilt.

The Wizards (15-1) opened the scoring as Tom Pecchia scored an unassisted goal, his state-leading 35th of the season, at the 5:53 mark. Alex Ventura gave the visitors a 2-0 lead, only 38 seconds later, with his fourth goal, assisted by Dan Skorski.

Ponaganset (14-2) cut the lead in half only 46 seconds into the second period as co-captain Derek Merchant ripped his 21st goal of the campaign past Wizards goaltender Ivan Forcier on Nick Ferrucci’s sixth assist. Anthony Ventura upped West Warwick’s lead to 3-1 at the five-minute mark with an assist from Patrick Fields and extended the lead to 4-1 on a power play marker with 5:45 to play in the middle stanza, assisted by Zach Dion. Alex Ventura, effectively, put the game away with an unassisted power play goal with just over two minutes to play before intermission.

Despite a four-goal deficit entering the game’s final 15 minutes, Chieftains head coach Dan Morin and his staff refused to allow his team to wave the white flag. Co-captain James Manni scored an unassisted power play goal, his 19th tally, to cut the lead to 5-2 just over two minutes into the period. However, despite their efforts, Ponaganset was unable to light the lamp again and Anthony Ventura put the icing in the cake with an unassisted short-handed goal with 2:39 to play for the game’s final tally.

Forcier handled the state’s second-best offense by stopping 22 of 24 Ponaganset shots on net while the Chieftains’ net-minding combination of Tyler Petrella and Curtis Briggs handled 30 of 36 Wizards shots.

The Chieftains will conclude the regular season with a road matchup with Warwick Vets Friday night at Thayer Ice Arena and at home Saturday night at Levy Arena against Johnston/North Providence Co-op as Ponaganset will celebrate Senior Night.

The Wizards return home to the West Warwick Civic Center Monday night to face Johnston/North Providence Co-op and finish the regular season Saturday night at Thayer Ice Arena versus Warwick Vets.

Chieftains Game Notes:

Despite allowing six goals to the Wizards, Petrella and Briggs have combined for a 1.43 goals-against average, which ranks second in the state behind Cumberland’s 1.12 in league games and is best in the state in overall contests.

As a team, the Chieftains’ 6.9 goals per game is second best in the state, trailing West Warwick/Exeter/West Greenwich’s 7.8 goals per game.

Ponaganset boasts five of the state’s 17 scorers. Nate Morin (third – 27-16-43), Merchant (tied for seventh – 21-12-33), Ethan Sederback (tied for tenth – 13-18-31), Manni (tied for 15th – 19-10-29) and Josh D’Alessio (tied for 17th – 12-16-28).

The Chieftains dropped two of three regular season games to the Wizards and were outscored 15-9.

Ponaganset has won both season games versus their final opponents, Warwick Vets and Johnston/North Providence by, respectively, 14-2 and 7-1 aggregate scores.

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