2011-12-08 / News

Island skater scores game-winning goal

BY MARGO SULLIVAN

Jamestown’s Charlie Tregenza scored the winning goal in the injury fund season opener on Nov. 26 against Prout played at URI’s Boss Arena.

With five minutes left in the final period and the score tied 2-2, the 14-year-old freshman grabbed the puck on the rebound, whisked it into the net, and North Kingstown skated past the Crusaders, 3-2.

“I was extremely surprised I was able to score a goal in my first varsity game and as a freshman,” he said. The fact he also won the game was, well, just the icing.

Charlie said the Skippers started the game on fire.

“We scored two goals,” he said, right at the beginning, but Prout didn’t give up.

“The other team caught up,” he said. They went into the third period locked in a 2-2 tie.

Charlie was playing in front of the Skippers’ net when the “perfect opportunity” almost landed on his stick, he said. The Skippers had just attempted to score, but the Crusaders’ goalie deflected the shot. The puck skipped back out on the ice, and Charlie slapped it into the net.

“It’s a great start,” he said. “Everyone on the team feels pretty good and wants to work for that feeling of winning.”

“We don’t lose,” coach Robert Finelli said Monday as the squad drilled and practiced 90 minutes at Boss Arena.

Finelli, in his first year as the Skippers’ coed varsity head coach, faces a challenge, though, as he attempts to stop the exodus to junior hockey and reinvigorate the North Kingstown High hockey program.

The Skippers won the state championship two years ago, but last year, they finished with a disappointing 2-15 record.

“They got their butts handed to them last year,” he said. “I wasn’t here. I don’t know what happened, but the parents started looking elsewhere. I’m missing some of my top players.”

He’s also missing experience. Most of the upperclassmen did not return.

“This team got decimated this year,” he said. “I got one kid back.”

During November tryouts, he promised the players they would be ready to deal with Division- I powerhouses like La Salle and Bishop Hendricken. In fact, he said, before the season is over, the Skippers will have become one of the powerhouses themselves.

Finelli stresses conditioning and physical fitness, assistant coach William Bennett said. And the first tryouts illustrated that.

“You’re going to work,” Finelli told them. They were going to sweat so much, he said, their jerseys would feel as though they weighed 10 pounds.

“La Salle doesn’t go into a gunfi ght with a knife,” Finelli told the team. “I don’t go into a gunfight with a knife. I go in with a bazooka.”

For the first day of tryouts in the North Kingstown High gym, Finelli drilled the athletes on sprinting and strength exercises.

“All the way down,” he ordered. ”Lunge. Twist.” To beat the other Division-I teams, the Skippers would have to work harder.

“If they’re going to work two hours a day, we’re going to work three,” he said.

After the fitness exercises, he split the students into groups of three. Bennett timed them as the players sprinted back and forth for 300 yards, on a course marked off by orange cones. The students tried to go the distance in 60 seconds before resting two-and-a-half minutes.

A few had to sit down and rest.

“To play the way I want to play,” he told them, “physically we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

He reminded them to eat and drink properly. Afterwards, Finelli said some of the students were not ready to play but if they worked hard and showed potential, he would keep them on the roster and let them come to practices.

“No one’s guaranteed anything,” he said. Everybody who came to the tryouts was not going to make the team.

“If you don’t know where you stand, ask,” he told the students. He would not lie to them.

Finelli and Bennett said some eligible players have opted to play in the junior hockey league, instead of going out for the high school team.

The junior hockey league has managed to cultivate an image, Finelli said, although he does not believe the product is superior to high school hockey.

Finelli has managed to bring players back to other teams he’s coached. He would like more Jamestown athletes to go out for the team, he said. He may reel in at least one more Jamestown resident.

Charlie’s brother Jack, 16, may join the Skippers, depending on his schedule, Charlie said. His brother just started a job and isn’t yet sure if he can juggle hockey, school and work.

Charlie started skating at age 4 when his family lived in Darien, Conn. He has played Newport youth hockey in the state league for seven years. He is the son of John and Robin Tregenza.

Ice hockey is his top priority, Charlie said.

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