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Ponaganset Wins Rhode Island Division III Hockey Championship

March 20, 2016

(Providence, RI)  Ryan Watts scored a pair of goals and Curtis Briggs made 22 saves as Ponaganset won their first hockey championship in 16 years with a 3-1 victory over West Warwick/Exeter/West Greenwich, sweeping the best-of-three series at Meehan Auditorium.

After a back-and-forth first half of the opening period, Watts, Ponaganset’s leading scorer, gave the Chieftains (21-1) a 1-0 lead 9:28 into the contest by beating Wizards (17-5) goaltender Jared Olson with his twin brother, Nate Watts, collecting an assist.

The super-freshman ballooned the Chieftains’ lead to 2-0, with less than five minutes remaining in the second stanza, as he beat Olson, again, with senior co-captain Nate Morin and junior Josh D’Alessio notching helpers.

WW/EWG finally solved Briggs, who stymied them in Game 1 on Friday, when Alex Ventura ripped the puck past the Ponaganset sophomore net-minder for a power-play goal at the 7:06 mark of the third period, as Dan Skorski and Zach Magiera picked up assists.

Defense ruled the final near-eight minutes of the game but, following the Wizards pulling Olson for an extra attacker in the final minute, Morin capped his brilliant high school career with an empty-net goal with two seconds remaining to send the green-and-white Chieftains fans into a frenzy and set off a celebration that Ponaganset hockey players, fans, families and alumni hadn’t enjoyed since their Division II title in 2000.

Briggs, stopping 22 of 23 shots, remains as one of the top statistical goaltenders in the nation while Olson, in a losing effort, turned aside 23 of 25 Ponaganset attempts on the cage.

Co-captains Morin and Ethan Sederback, while not finishing at the top of the team’s scoring, provided outstanding and invaluable leadership for an extremely young squad that looks to have an amazing future ahead of them. Fellow seniors Nik Goff and Elijah Wiggill may not have garnered the headlines as fellow seniors Morin and Sederback, but were, also, instrumental in guiding a championship team that featured nine freshmen and three sophomores.

 

 

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