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WEST WARWICK â€“ Narragansett boys hockey coach Chris Lussier had seven simple words for his team moments before the start of Wednesdayâ€™s game against undefeated West Warwick/Exeter-West Greenwich.
â€śMake them beat you,â€ť he said, â€śfive on five.â€ť
The message went unheard.
West Warwick/Exeter-West Greenwich converted three power plays in the first two periods into three quick goals while the Mariners converted only one all game â€“ and it came when things were well in hand - in the Knight-Wizardsâ€™ 4-1 win Wednesday at Magiera Memorial Ice Rink Wednesday night.
â€śWe have good confidence on the power play,â€ť said WW/EWGâ€™s Brett Coski, who scored two goals. â€śWe can move the puck, get them out of position and put the puck in the net.â€ť
â€śOur goal differential five on five is on the positive side,â€ť Lussier said. â€śAgain, West Warwick has a great power play, moved the puck well and if you allow teams to do that, youâ€™re going to get burnt.â€ť
The story should have ended with WW/EWGâ€™s offensive wizardry, but the third period turned into a dirty affair with the teams racking up 12 penalties for a total of 16 minutes, 30 seconds, including a major game disqualification on WW/EWGâ€™s Dean Brown for a hit to the head on Narragansettâ€™s Kurt Richardson. Brown was ejected and Richardson was helped off the ice.
With 1.8 seconds left the game was stopped after a scrum in front of net ended in a cross-check called on the Knight-Wizards' Justin Lake.
â€śI told my guys they know I donâ€™t stand for that but I think the referees let it get out of control,â€ť WW/EWG coach Peter Ethier said. â€śA couple of our guys got mugged down there, pushed over the goalie and they donâ€™t call a penalty; they come down here and my guy goes like this [with his hands and stick up] and they call a penalty.
â€śIt kind of got out of hand and I think the other team was a little bit chippy because we were ahead 3-0. The last six minutes of the game was not enjoyable to me.â€ť
â€śThat canâ€™t happen. That throws off all our games and makes other coaches and players think weâ€™re goons and weâ€™re just going to go out and take someoneâ€™s head off,â€ť Coski said. â€śWeâ€™re great players, know how to play hockey and we play hockey the right way.â€ť
WW/EWG (9-0 Division III) is the top scoring team in D-III by a mile, averaging over eight goals per game heading into the game against Narragansett. The Mariners (4-4 Division III) arenâ€™t struggling in the scoring department, averaging over five goals per game, but Wednesday night came down to converting chances.
The Knight-Wizards scored one in the first and two in the second and all three came immediately following Narragansett penalties.
The first was a bit of a fluke. Following a high stick on Narragansettâ€™s Andrew Morvan, WW/EWGâ€™s Brett Coski took a shot from the right wing that got past keeper Dolci Wagner â€“ who finished with 25 saves - wide left, but the puck deflected off the chest of as Narragansettâ€™s Connor McKnight, who came sliding in to help on the back side, for a goal.
â€śIt was a weak shot. It made it to the net and thatâ€™s all that matters,â€ť said Coski, a freshman at West Warwick. â€śI was happy it went in. Iâ€™ll look for a stronger shot next time, but you take what you can get.â€ť
In the second, an elbow by Narragansettâ€™s Cam Fossa gave WW/EWG another power play and nine seconds later, Josh Marco put away a rebound after Troy Sankeyâ€™s shot was saved by Wagner to make it 2-0 with 7:01 left until intermission.
A penalty was called after the goal on Narragansettâ€™s Erik Sterling, giving the Knight-Wizards another power play and 55 seconds later Coski got his second goal of the game on an assist from Tony Rei and Sankey.
â€śIf we go out there and play hockey like we practice every week â€“ we practice on the power play every Thursday so I know itâ€™s fresh in their minds - and if they move the puck,â€ť Ethier said, â€śI donâ€™t think there is a better team on the power play.â€ť
â€śThey were 3-for-3 on their first three power plays and we were 0-for-3 on the PK,â€ť Lussier said. â€śYou canâ€™t give a team like that opportunities. Thereâ€™s no recipe for success when you do that.â€ť
Narragansett played its best hockey in the third, where it took 12 of its 20 shots. Knight-Wizardsâ€™ keeper Ivan Forcier turned away several in the early portion of the period to keep the Mariners at bay before â€™Gansett got on the board on a goal by Dylan Jardon that was assisted by Brody Wise.
It didnâ€™t change the outcome of the game, but Lussier was pleased with what he saw in the third period, especially coming off Mondayâ€™s 5-2 loss to Tolman and a game against East Providence coming up Friday night at Boss Arena at 7 p.m.
â€śThe way we battled in the third, we had opportunities to put pucks in the net, I think thatâ€™s something we can probably build off,â€ť Lussier said. â€śIâ€™ve yet to see us face adversity and kind of step in the face of adversity and man up up until that point.â€ť
The Knight-Wizards wonâ€™t be back on the ice until Saturday, Jan. 12 at Magiera at 6 p.m. for a game against Tolman, which is in second place in Division III at 6-1-1. WW/EWG beat Tolman 5-4 in overtime on Dec. 28. It gives the team plenty of time to focus in what will be a big game for both teams.
â€śSome of the players are getting overconfident, trying to win every game and trying to be the best; some are just taking it game by game,â€ť Coski said.