Almost a champion: PSW falls in D-II finals

Almost a champion: PSW falls in D-II finals

PSW goaltender and St. Raphael Academy sophomore Jeff Pimental turned away 55 shots during last Saturday night’s victory over Cumberland, not counting the three he stopped in the shootout round. Pimental ended up with 122 saves on the 128 shots he faced in the three-game series. (Breeze photos by Eric Benevides)
Pimental excels, but Cumberland wins title series in three games

PROVIDENCE – St. Raphael Academy sophomore goaltender Jeff Pimental did everything he possibly could to help lead the Providence Country Day/St. Raphael Academy/Wheeler School co-op team to championship glory in its Division II best-of-three title series against Cumberland at Brown University’s Meehan Auditorium.

In a three-game series that saw the top-seeded Clippers outshoot the 3rd-seeded PSW squad by a better than 2-to-1 margin (128-63), Pimental turned away 122 shots, including 32 of the 33 he faced on Monday night in the third and deciding game of the series.

Unfortunately for Pimental and his teammate, the goal he allowed – Dom Rousseau’s redirection of a slap shot by Sean Meers 4:22 into the second period – turned out to be the contest’s lone tally and lifted the Clippers to their first D-II title since their last season in the division in 2014.

The co-op team, which was ironically making its first trip to the finals since that 2013-14 campaign, finishes its outstanding season with a 17-6 record that includes two overtime losses to the Clippers (22-1). One of those OT defeats came in last Friday’s series opener, which saw Cumberland outshot PSW, 37-11, and win the game on Jackson Shevlin’s goal that was set up by Aidan Clarey 2:37 into the extra session.

PSW, which tied the score at 1-1 on a goal by Ben Kailher with 11 seconds to go in the first period, nearly won the game midway through the third period when Cam Yee scored on a breakaway. But his shot came moments after the net came loose it was waved off.

The following night’s game may have been the best of the bunch, as Pimental not only stopped 55 shots in regulation and two 7½-minute overtime sessions, but also turned away three shots in the shootout – the Clippers missed the net on the other two.

PSW owned a 3-0 1:28 into the second period, thanks to a goal by Bennett Hicks 5:34 into the game and the next two scores coming from Yee. But the Clippers answered back with a power-play goal midway through the second period and forced bonus hockey by scoring twice in the final period.

Pimental was at his best in the final overtime session, which saw Cumberland take 10 shots and hold PSW to none, and Hicks scored the eventual winner in the fifth round of the shootout after neither side was unable to find the back of the net.

Most of the excitement from Saturday’s game was nowhere to be found on Monday night, but in the final period, the fans were on the edges of their seats when the Clippers got whistled for a five-minute major penalty with 5:36 to play in the game. But Cumberland goalie Jack Byrne, who was named the series MVP, made six big saves during that game, including a few when PSW pulled Pimental for an extra skater with 1:40 to play and had a 6-on-4 advantage for more than a minute.

PSW head coach Kevin Sullivan and team captain and St. Raphael Academy senior Nolan Carlson show off their team’s Division II runner-up plaque.
PSW junior forward Bennett Hicks, left, is congratulated by teammate Mike Barone after scoring the first goal of last Saturday’s Game 2 at Brown University, Hicks, who is a native of Cumberland, evened the series by scoring the only goal of that night’s shootout.