By Margeaux Gagnon and Jack O’Mara
The University of Rhode Island hockey team opened up their season at home this past weekend with a 2-1 loss in the shootout and then a 10-2 blowout win against conference rival, West Chester University on Friday and Saturday.
Despite falling 2-1, the Rams dominated the game Friday with 59 shots on goal and collected a point for going into the overtime period.
The finish was not what many expected, and neither was the start. Both teams had trouble getting anything going in the first seven minutes with some sloppy passing from both sides. But, West Chester had an opportunity, and with a ton of bodies in front of the net, Mickey McShane shot one past Rams’ goaltender JT Ketzenberger for what would be their lone goal of regulation.
The Rams took about eight minutes to find the equalizer which came off of junior defenseman Jacob Kapstein’s stick, a slap from the point area after good passing from William Schlichtig and Luke Vendetto. That would be the Rams’ only goal they could provide Friday evening.
Their play in the second and third period seemed to be all Rhode Island as they outshot the Golden Rams 42-17 through the two final periods and overtime. Rhode Island was shut down by the outstanding goaltending of West Chester’s Breandan Colgan, who made 58 saves in the win.
Nothing showed for Rhode Island in overtime and in the shootout, as there was only one goal from West Chester’s Manny Billones. Colgan was able to shut down attempts from URI’s Jonathan Alsfeld, Vendetto and Ben Mello to close out the 2-1 victory.
On Saturday afternoon the Rams came out onto the ice with a lot of energy, looking for revenge from the shoot out loss the night before.
Alsfeld opened up the scoring for the Rams with a powerplay goal in the first period. A little under two minutes later junior Nate Bastian scored a shorthanded goal to give the Rams a 2-0 lead heading into the 2nd period.
In the second period junior Nunzio Morretti scored in the opening minutes to put the Rams up 3-0 but West Chester soon answered scoring their first of the night. Just past the halfway point in the second Alsfeld scored his second of the night on the powerpay and put the Rams up 4-1. With 1:04 left in the second Mello scored his first goal in a Rams uniform to make the score 5-1. 30 seconds later Schlichtig scored to give Rhody a 6-1 lead at the end of the second.
Six minutes into the third Vendetto scored to extend the lead to 7-1. A cross checking penalty against the Rams gave West Chester a powerplay which they took advantage off and scored making the score 7-2 with 12:41 left in the third. West Chester took a cross checking penalty and a roughing penalty which gave URI a 5-3 man advantage which the Rams took full advantage of. Alsfeld completed his hat trick and Morretti got his second of the day to put the Rams up 9-2 with 7:13 left in the game. Less than a minute later Morretti completed his hat trick, scoring the final goal of the game making the final score 10-2.
After the game on Saturday head coach Joe Augustine applauded West Chester’s starting goaltender, saying that he played very well Friday night and that the goals that he gave up on Saturday were not goals that he normally gives up.
“I think their goaltender last night played very, very well,” Augustine said. “We could have done a few things better but I wasn’t disappointed with the way we played. It’s one of those things where you just can’t buy one and then today I think we wore on him, he was tired. I think mentally after facing. I think he left after about 40 so he had almost 100 shots on him in about a game and a half so he was just tired.”
Augustine said that the team does need to improve on playing well on Friday nights. Last season more than half of the team’s losses on the entire season came from Friday night games.
“I think we need to be prepared better for the first game. We just seem to come out flat that first night. We played horribly sometimes on fridays.”
Saturday’s game was very physical on both sides. URI was called for six penalties while West Chester was called for 11 penalties. Four of West Chester’s penalties came in the last 10 minutes of the game when the win was out of reach for the Golden Rams.
“I think I’ve played in 29 years almost 80 games against them and somehow things seem like they never change,” Augustine said. “They always have a physical team and things seem to escalate as soon as the score gets a little bit… It wasn’t like that much last night (Friday) and all of a sudden when the score changes… With our guys I just worry about protecting themselves and there’s really no room for that the referee has to control that a little bit better.”
Heading into next weekend’s series against Towson, Coach Augustine might have to make some adjustments to the lineup after senior captains, Max St. Sauveur and Mike Pesola, were injured. He is also looking to give sophomore goaltender JT Ketzenberger, who has started four games in a row, a rest and start one of the two freshmen netminders.
“We would like to see the other guys and we want to get them and put them in a good situation,” Augustine said. “We will pick and choose a time and hopefully we can get some work and give JT a little bit of a rest. There’s no weekends off anymore and all these games are so important, you have to be ready to go.”
URI improves their record to 3-0-1 on the season and Saturday’s win brings Coach Joe Augustine’s all time wins with URI to 598. URI plays Towson at home next weekend, with games at 7 p.m. on Friday, 4 p.m. on Saturday.