Sunday, March 9, 2014

Hockey Holds Off Smithfield, Advances to State Finals Against Mount

To suggest that the Hawks were looking past Smithfield in the semi-final round of the state hockey tournament would be grossly unfair to the Sentinels. That's a good hockey team over there, and they gave the Hawks everything they could handle throughout the course of the season and this series. 

Still, it's not always easy not to think ahead to a potential championship showdown with the Mounties, simply because that's what most hockey people around the state have been expecting to happen this month and because the prospect of another memorable chapter in the Hendricken-Mount hockey championship series is fun to think about. 

Now we have it. 

Smithfield did, however, stand in the way. As noted in the previous post here on The Network site, the Sentinels have proven to be, time and again, that team that 'just won't go away'. True to form, they never did, and although the Hawks swept the series 2-0, the Sentinels never made it easy for them. 

Both games were, in a sense, mirror images of one another.

In a game broadcast live right here on The Network - with Cam Brennan and Remy Morris doing an outstanding job of play-by-play and analysis - Brandon Mitchell and Patrick Creamer scored the two goals that sent the Hawks into the locker room at intermission with a 2-0 lead, and then the Hawks hung on over the course of the third period and walked out of Smithfield Municipal Ice Rink with a 2-1 win and their ticket punched to the finals. 

The end of intermission and the entire third period can still be seen in the viewer at the top of the page, and the first and second period can be seen here:

Video streaming by Ustream

Video streaming by Ustream

Much like Game 1 - during which the Hawks took a seemingly commanding 4-0 lead, 4-1 into the locker room at intermission, but had to fight off the Sentinels in their opening game 5-3 win - the Sentinels refused to give in, scoring an early third period goal off the stick of Nick Paiva to cut the Hawks' lead in half. From there the 'chippiness' that had been part of the game to that point continued on, as a number of penalties landed some Smithfield players in the penalty box and even placed them in a couple of precarious situations in which they were two men down on the ice. 

Still, Smithfield dug in and hung tough. They pulled their goalie as expected with about a minute remaining in the game, and even then, the Hawks were only able to put the issue to rest when they cleared the puck out of their own zone with about eight seconds on the clock.

From here, the Hawks and Mounties have most of the week to prepare for their showdown. The series is scheduled for Friday, Saturday, and, if necessary, next Monday. All games will be played at Brown's Meehan Auditorium. Unfortunately, we will be unable to broadcast any of those games live, but The Network will have a team present for all the action at the games, as we'll be social networking with updates via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. We're also planning on doing a recorded audio stream that we can post the day after the game.

The Hawks beat the Mounties three times this season. It's a pretty good bet, however, that Coach Creamer and his staff will never allow those games to have any bearing on what our guys will be facing when they lace up their skates to face the Mount. The Mounties are the defending state champions, a position with which they're pretty familiar. When the red, white, and blue of Mount St. Charles comes out onto the ice, only a fool takes for granted the possibility of knocking them off. 

The Mount always has an unspoken seventh man on the ice - its tradition.