In Portsmouth: From losers to winners

Patriots win D-2 state hockey title after rough start to season

Story and photos by Richard W. Dionne, Jr.
Posted 3/18/24

The Patriots skated across the ice and bounded off the protective glass to celebrate with their fans after winning the Division II ice hockey championship at PC’s Schneider Arena in Providence …

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In Portsmouth: From losers to winners

Patriots win D-2 state hockey title after rough start to season


PORTSMOUTH — The Portsmouth Patriots threw off their helmets, skated to their fans and bounded off the protective glass in celebration after winning the Division II ice hockey championship at Providence College’s Schneider Arena on Sunday afternoon. 

“It was amazing,” said an elated Shane Temple, a junior captain who was voted MVP of the game. “It was kind of surreal to see it.”

Portsmouth exploded for three first-period goals in a four-minute span and never looked back as they outmuscled the Blackstone Valley co-op of St. Raphael Academy, Providence Country Day, North Smithfield, North Providence and Johnston, 6-2 in the Division II single elimination championship. 

The Patriots, who scored 28 goals in five playoff games, netted three goals in the first period, two in the second, and scored an empty-netter in the third. 

“We knew we were going to go on a roll,” said Patriots captain Dan Biello. “We had something to prove and nothing to lose. We showed up ready to play and now we are champions.”

3 goals in 4 minutes

Chase Pascoe began the display of offensive firepower, ripping a shot by BVS goaltender Jacob Faria, four minutes into the first period to give Portsmouth a 1-0 lead.

“I stole the puck,” he said. “Then I shot it low blocker.”

A minute later, Biello skated the length of the ice and scored on a breakaway to make it 2-0. 

“I took the puck off a BVS player’s stick,” he said. “Zoomed down and then buried it. I barely beat the defenseman. I shot it outside the hashmarks. Got lucky and it went in.”

Hadrian Dougherty stunned Blackstone Valley a third time, taking a pass from Connor Rogers and blasting it by Faria to make it 3-0 with 7:33 left in the first period.

Temple scores to give Patriots 4-0 lead

Shane Temple made it 4-0 with 10:36 left to play in the second period. The shifty junior shot the puck from the side of the net during a Patriots power play and found a hole between the left pipe and Faria to send the fans into jubilation again. 

Sophomore Camden Gorverno finally put BVS one the board. He scored on a power play less than a minute later, beating Portsmouth goalie Jonathan Cabral (20 saves) on a breakaway to close it to 4-1. 

“This is Jonathan’s third year ever playing hockey,” said Patriots head coach Gregory Cunningham. “To do what he was able to do, the collaboration, the team effort. It’s so cool. I am so happy for these guys.”

Rogers, a Portsmouth sophomore, increased the lead to 5-1 with seven minutes left. He beat Faria with a nifty backhand after collecting a pass from line mates Temple and Luke Brule forcing BVS head coach Chris Librizzi to pull the beleaguered Faria for sophomore Ethan Gustafson. 

Gianluca Albanese scored another power play goal for BVS with six minutes left in the third period to cut the lead to 5-2. 

Biello sealed the deal, scoring an empty-netter with under two minutes to go. 

Losers to winners in one season

Portsmouth began the year losing four of their first five games and seven of 10, before turning their season around.

“It was a rough start. We changed how we started playing on defense and we took off,” said Biello. 

“We’ve had almost 80 hours of practice,” Cunningham said. “Last year we played more of a run-and-gun style of play. This season we need to be more defensive minded. The guys just worked hard. They were selfless, adapted to playing a new way and just kept striving for excellence.”

Playoff winning streak

Portsmouth went on to win eight of nine games the rest of the way. The fifth-seeded Patriots knocked off West Warwick (No. 4) after losing the first game 5-4. They beat the Wizards 5-3 in game two and crushed them 9-5 in the third game of the best-of-three series. Portsmouth outmuscled Ponaganset 4-1 in the semifinals before dispatching the Blackstone Valley co-op.

“Teams underestimated us and didn’t think that we’d come out as hot as we did,” said Temple. “We worked as a team and developed more chemistry late in the season. It really helped.”

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