For the third week in a row, the University of Rhode Island men’s ice hockey team swept their opponent, beating Canisius College to return to their No. 23 national ranking.
Coming into the series on a four game win streak, the Rams (11-4, 31 points) looked to pounce upon a slower and more vulnerable Canisius (10-13, 21 points) squad. They did so with a blistering offense, scoring 13 goals on 93 shots over the weekend. The offense was helped along by URI’s top line with team Alternate Captain Michael Pesola getting his first career hat trick during the second game.
Pesola scored goals two, three and four on Saturday for the Rams on his way to a natural hat trick. “I had some good feeds from my linemate Ray Boudiette,” Pesola said. “He’s really finding me nowadays, we’re starting to learn each other’s play a lot.”
Head coach Joe Augustine also made a point to compliment Pesola’s performance over the weekend. “He plays a very physical game,” Augustine said. “If he hits the net, he’s got a good shot and he’s got a pretty good release. Ray Boudiette and Nate Bastian set him up a couple of times, and he played very well”.
The Boudiette-Pesola-Bastian line has been a force for URI, with 37 goals in 22 games between the three of them. Despite the talented offensive showcase, however, Coach Augustine noted how the Rams were sloppy in the defensive zone during the weekend. While the team only allowed three goals over the weekend, they had troubles moving the puck effectively, and had several turnovers lead to scoring chances, with two leading to goals on Sunday.
“I thought they outplayed us a little bit tonight, we went to sleep on a few things,” Augustine said. “We couldn’t get out of our zone at times. You can’t play like that. Guys try to cheat too much and come out of the zone too quickly because they know we’re doing well offensively, so they kind of get lackadaisical in our own zone.”
Pesola, while celebrating the win, also noted how the team can keep improving.
“I think the entire team needs to keep working, putting effort in on an off the ice,” Pesola said.
As the team looks towards their next challenges, defense will remain a point of emphasis.
“We have to learn how to play with a lead,” Augustine said. “We have to learn how to win the right way, and taking responsibility in our own end because that’s where, when crunch time comes, it’s all about your own end. Defensively I told the guys that’s what wins championships.”
The Rams will look for their seventh and eighth straight wins this weekend when they host Temple University.