Last year, Cumberland High School pushed undefeated rival Lincoln to the precipice of defeat in their 2-2 regular season tie. That’s the closest the Clippers came to knocking off the Lions, who swept their neighbor in the playoffs before beating Prout School to win the Division II title. On Jan. 29, Cumberland finally exacted revenge on Lincoln, handing the Lions their first defeat in nearly two seasons. Before a spirited crowd at Woonsocket’s Mount St. Charles Arena, the hometown Clippers rode the superb goaltending of Leo Lake and the scoring of Jake Salisbury and beat Lincoln, 2-1. Lake notched 18 saves, while Salisbury’s second goal of the night came with just 3:58 left in regulation. Mike Enos scored for Lincoln while goalie Chris Leclaire made 28 saves.
The clash between two of the state’s best teams underscores the strength of Division II North. As of Jan 30, of the five teams in the conference, four had at least
seven wins, with the division accounting for a total of 79 points, entering this past weekend’s games. South teams, meanwhile, totaled 37 points, while Central clubs had amassed 44 points. North Kingstown, which led Division II South with 14 points, would rank fifth in II-North. Prout School, tops in Central, was the only team with a winning record. Ironically, neither Lincoln nor Cumberland had a player among the state’s top ten scorers. Lincoln’s Mike Enos was 15th with 10 goals and seven assists. Both teams win with defense; Cumberland’s Leo Lake had allowed just three goals all season while posting an almost unheard of .978 save percentage. Chris Leclaire was right behind him, allowing just six goals all season while posting a .955 save percentage. The road to the finals clearly winds through the North.
Division II North is especially challenging because of its overall depth. Third place North Smithfield entered the weekend a solid 7-2 in league play, but still eight points behind front-running Cumberland. The Northmen do have a sniper in Kyle Evangelista (10,9), who ranked ninth in the state in scoring. Dylan Narodowy was right behind him, with 7 goals and 11 assists. Riley Boucher chipped in seven goals and nine assists. Goalie Mark Pasquariello led the team
with a solid .917 save percentage. After losing to Cumberland, 5-1, NS scorers went wild during routs of Johnston/North Providence, Middletown, and Mt. Hope. Prout and South Kingstown awaited NS on Jan 31 and Feb 1.
At 7-4, PCD/Wheeler/St. Ray came off an 8-1 loss to Cumberland. Four players had recorded at least 15 points apiece: Justin Katz (3,13), Nathan Duffy (11,5), Zach Librizzi (11,5), and Tom Dudzik (7,8).
Meanwhile, North Kingstown entered the weekend tops in Division II South (SEE next week’s feature on the team). Neighboring South Kingstown, however, boasts one of the state’s most remarkable rags to riches stories. Last year’s team won just two games; already, SK entered the weekend with six wins. SK lacks a prolific scorer; in fact, each of its top three scorers has just seven points. Yet 12 players have recorded at least one goal apiece, and goalie Brandon Barnes has allowed just seven goals all season.
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