The Cranston/East Greenwich co-op Lady Thunderbirds hockey team flew into Thayer Arena on Friday night and defeated the Warwick co-op Lady Titans 2-1. It’s the first time that Cranston/EG has beaten Warwick in two seasons.
Senior Abbi Sampson led the Lady Thunderbirds with two assists.
Cranston/EG scored its first goal at 13:20 of the first period when freshman prospect Abbi Ainley scored while on the doorstep after assists from Sampson and Lindsey Brady.
“On the power play she roofed it over the shoulder,” Lady Thunderbirds head coach PJ Bessette said. “You know, she found that open spot and she hit it. She moves the puck very well. She skates well. She sees the ice very well.”
“It’s good with Abbi (Sampson) being the strong shooter that she is,” Bessette added. “They look at each other a lot.”
Cranston/EG got its second goal 48 seconds into the second period when Rosalina Calin found the back of the net after assists from Ainley and Sampson.
“And then you’ve got Rose, who’s like the Cam Neely type, the power forward, goes to the net, stick down, and she found the net on that second goal,” Bessette said. “She got the game-winner. Those are the things. The girls are working hard in practice and it’s starting to show on the ice.”
Then, the Lady Titans cut the deficit to 2-1 at 4:36 of the third period when sophomore defenseman Ella Centracchio zoomed up the ice and blasted the puck into the top left corner of the net past Lady Titans senior netminder Hannah Slaiby.
“I just saw the lane and I decided to just put it on net and it went in,” Centracchio said “So, it got momentum going, but we just couldn’t get it done in the third period.”
While Cranston/EG held a 2-0 advantage at one point, Bessette felt his team came out flat.
“We came out slow,” Bessette said. “We were a little sloppy tonight considering how we played against Mount last week and South County right after.”
The Lady Thunderbirds fell to Cumberland/Mount St. Charles/Lincoln 4-2 on December 30 before beating South County 5-0 on Saturday, January 5.
“But hey, we’re playing well enough where if we’re not on the top of our game, we can win games like this,” Bessette said. “Warwick took everything we had. They played very well. It was a great game, up and down. The shots were pretty even at 29 to 24, but Hannah, again, stood on her head and kept us in the game like she’s been doing for all four years. Hannah’s been our lifeline for the whole season. She’s tremendous back there.”
Slaiby finished the contest with 29 saves while Warwick senior Rebecca Yaseen made 24.
“Abbi Ainley, Abbi Sampson, and Rose are playing fantastic,” Bessette said. “They accounted for all of the points tonight. They’re playing very well.”
Sampson, a natural scorer, had two assists in the contest, something she probably didn’t accomplish all of last season.
“No, she probably got all the goals in the game,” Bessette said. “And, that’s what is making Abbi a better player. She’s starting to look and dish the puck off instead of trying to do it on her own. She’s starting to realize that she’s got some other players that can help her out.”
Warwick senior captain Nicole Procaccini felt that Cranston/EG was a tougher opponent than in the past, but she thought her team held their own.
“They definitely played aggressive,” Procaccini said. “I think we kept up with them well. It’s just the matter of a lucky two bounces, I think that’s what made the difference. But, our team definitely played hard and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. We had a lot of opportunities. We’ve just got to put it in the net.”
The Lady Thunderbirds killed off a 5-on-3 during the last two minutes where Lauren Brady, a center, and Ashley Smedberg, a left winger were huge, as well as the Cranston/EG defense.
“I’ve got to say the defense played really well tonight,” Bessette said. “Lindsey Brady, Ireleigh Bucci, Riley Bessette and Lexie Bessette. Fantastic job playing defense. Trying to limit the second and third shots, getting the puck out of the zone, moving the puck and helping Hannah out immensely. So, defensively, we played really well.”
Warwick fell to Mount on Saturday night by a score of 1-0. Yaseen made 47 saves in net for the Lady Titans during that contest. Warwick plays next at Levy Ice Arena against Burrillville/Ponaganset/Bay View Co-op on Thursday at 6pm.
Cranston/EG beat Smithfield Co-op 6-2 on Saturday evening. Sampson had two goals and two assists in that game and Lindsay Brady had two goals and one assist while Ainley and Calin had a goal and an assist each. The Lady Thunderbirds get a long break before they take the ice next at home on January 25, also against Burrillville/Ponaganset/Bay View co-op.