Clippers closing in on perfect regular season
Latest ‘W’ comes against Northmen, 6-1
WOONSOCKET — The Cumberland High School boys’ hockey team was one period away from another four-point weekend, but the performance through the first two periods Saturday night against playoff-chasing North Smithfield wasn’t up to the Clippers’ lofty standards. Even though Cumberland led the Northmen by a pair of goals, Clipper coach Mark Andreozzi went inside the locker room behind the away team bench at Adelard Arena and didn’t mince words.
“I thought for almost two periods we were not good,” Andreozzi said. “We were slow, sluggish, not moving our feet and not making good passes. It was tough to watch. In between periods, to put it nicely, I told them they had to play better. I told them we weren’t moving our feet and we needed to attack the net.”
Andreozzi’s message, which came with a threat of a difficult week of practice, clearly got through. Just 51 seconds into the final period, junior defenseman Aidan Clarey scored a goal.
Cumberland added two more goals and skated away
with a 6-1 Division II victory thanks to a pair of goals from leading scorer Jackson Shevlin and a goal and an assist each from Clarey and Keith Sisson.
North Smithfield (5-7-0-1 Division II) received a second-period power-play goal from sophomore forward Evan Gravel and 22 saves from junior goalie Forrest Zuba.
The Northmen remain tied with Coventry for the final playoff spot with just two games remaining. The Northmen know a win over last-place North Kingstown Friday night is paramount before ending the season Saturday against Lincoln at Rhode Island Sports Center.
“I thought we skated with Cumberland for the first two periods,” North Smithfield coach Ben Shatraw said.
“To stay with a team like them, you have to impede their progress. It’s not about making the big hit, it’s about stepping in front of them and knocking them off the puck. We did that well in the first two periods and stopped doing it in the third.”
Cumberland (13-0 Division II) only needs two more points in its final three games to claim the No. 1 seed and make sure the road to the final goes through Adelard Arena.
The Clippers head out on the road for the final time in the regular season Friday night against South Kingstown at URI’s Brad Boss Arena.
That game is followed by a date with second-place Cranston West Saturday night at Adelard. The Clippers defeated the Falcons, 3-1, in the fifthplace game at the Burrillville Winter Classic in December.
“We need to keep pounding it into their brain that we need to get better,” Andreozzi said. “We always tell them what they need to do and how they need to get better. There are times where I don’t know if they’re listening because I don’t know if it always gets through.”
The Northmen, who battled the Clippers to a 4-2 decision in December at Rhode Island Sports Center, were the better team for long stretches of the first period.
The Northmen were rewarded for their hard work with a power play late in the period. Cumberland, however, woke up and grabbed a lead they would never relinquish when Sisson notched a shorthanded goal.
Cumberland snapped out of its lethargy after the goal and completed dominated the rest of the first period and the opening eight minutes of the second.
The Clippers built a two-goal ad- vantage when Clarey set up Shevlin for a goal at 7:35.
“The shorthanded goal in the first period took a little wind out of our sails because they’re a big, fast team with a lot of talent up front,” Shatraw said.
North Smithfield responded with a power-play goal at 10:52 when Clipper sophomore goalie Jack Byrne couldn’t keep a Robert Martufi shot in his glove.
The puck squirted to Gravel, who poked the puck into the net. Cumberland responded when Jordan Cullion netted his fourth goal of the weekend when he scored a power-play goal after finishing off a Sisson rebound with 1:51 left in the middle period.
Andreozzi’s intermission speech woke up the Clippers, as Clarey, Shevlin and Jake McMillen netted third-period goals for a Cumberland squad that has scored 56 goals and allowed just 11 goals in league competition.
The Cumberland boys’ hockey team celebrated a 6-1 victory over North Smithfield on Saturday night, one that improved the Clippers’ record to 13-0 against Division II opponents.