WEST HAVEN – The Notre Dame – West Haven and Bishop Hendricken (RI) hockey teams are mirror images of themselves. Both are gritty and hard-working, and both rely on tough defensive efforts to win games.
It comes as no surprise goals were hard to come by when the two teams met in a Martin Luther King Day matchup. Behind a late goal by Jake Paolino, Bishop Hendricken topped the Green Knights 2-1 in a non-conference game at the Edward L. Bennett Rink in West Haven Monday afternoon.
“Both teams are very similar,” Bishop Hendricken coach Jim Creamer said. “I really like their team. They play hard. We are so similar. We can play eight games against them and they would all be one-goal games.”
With the game even at one and Notre Dame’s Ian Hayden having just been turned aside from in front by Hawks’ goaltender John McCarthy, Bishop Hendricken scored the winner. Drew Haxton sent the puck back to Paolino at the point, and Paolino fired a shot to the top corner with 44.5 seconds left in the third period for a 2-1 lead.
“We are having a very tough time scoring goals,” Notre Dame coach Tim Belcher said. “We have scored four goals in the last three games and nine periods of hockey. That is why we are 1-3 in our last four games. It is very frustrating.”
The Green Knights (5-4) entered the final period trailing 1-0, but got the equalizer less than five minutes in as Mike Ansaldo went top shelf with a wrist shot in front.
The Hawks (6-1) looked as if they were going to take the lead with 6:12 to go off a scramble in front, but Matt Dumond lofted a shot which just went over the crossbar.
Notre Dame goaltender Nicholas Piselli played well in goal for the Green Knights, turning aside 28 shots, several from in close, marking his second consecutive stellar start.
“He has played very well for us,” Belcher said of Piselli. “He played tremendous the other night against Xavier and he played really well today. He gave us a chance to tie it in the third and a chance to win it later on. He has allowed two goals in 90 minutes of hockey.”
Bishop Hendricken scored the lone goal of the middle period with less than three minutes remaining. After a shot by Dumond was denied, the rebound went right to Brett Berard, who buried the shot in the top corner for a 1-0 advantage.
The second period saw the pace of play increase from the opening 15 minutes with each team having quality scoring opportunities. Piselli denied a shot off a 2-on-1 from Peter Krekorian 6:13 in, while Patrick Gribbin denied Mike Bencivengo in front with a pad save 7:16 in, and a point shot from Zack Dumas with a pad save with 1:45 to go in the period.
The first period was uneventful as the two teams combined for 17 shots in a scoreless opening 15 minutes. Piselli made a few clutch saves to keep the game scoreless, with the best coming with 2:20 left in the period as he denied Mike Boscia from the slot.
Notre Dame’s best scoring opportunity in the opening period was when Ansaldo had his shot stopped by
Gribbin off the wing with 8:50 to go.
Gribbin and McCarthy each made 14 saves in the win for the Hawks.
Bishop Hendricken 2, Notre Dame-West Haven 1
B – 0 1 1 – 2 (6-1)
N – 0 0 1 – 1 (5-4)
B – Brett Berard (Matt Dumond, Peter Krekorian) 2:53
N – Mike Ansaldo (Ian Hayden, Chris Hibson) 10:04
B- Jake Paolino (Drew Haxton, Cam Toussaint) 0:45
B – Patrick Gribbin (14); John McCarthy (14)