Jamestowner gets starting goalie gig
The North Kingstown High School varsity hockey team may be headed for the Division II playoffs, and a Jamestown freshman is in the thick of the competition.
Jarod Parkins may be a newcomer to varsity hockey, but he is stepping up as the Skippers’ new goalie, according to head coach Steve Pelletier.
With Jarod manning the defensive end, three seniors are running the offense. Adam Nabb of North Kingstown is leading the league in goals. Adam, who plays left wing, is not the fastest or the quickest, his coach said, but he’s the best player on the team because he knows the game. That’s why Pelletier named him the captain.
“I felt he could do the job,” he said. The other top players on offense are Hayden Lyle and Jason Mota, Pelletier said, and Cam Iadealuca is the top defenseman.
The Skippers, who are 6-3, head into a big weekend, with three games that could make or break their bid for a state title. If they win the two division matches – against East Greenwich on Friday night and against Pilgrim Monday afternoon – the Skippers can capture a bye in the playoffs. But the team also has to contend with the PCD/ Wheeler/St. Raphael co-op team on Saturday.
North Kingstown has rallied behind Parkins, who dealt with a diffi cult situation when the coaches asked him to start the game against South Kingstown on Dec. 21. Meridith Rocha had been the starting goalie, but she left the team.
Despite the issue, Pelletier said, the Skippers picked up their second victory of the season against the Rebels, and the game, which North Kingstown won 4-2, made a lasting impression on both squads.
The Rebels lost four of their next five games, while the Skippers, who had lost back-to-back games to start the season, went on a winning streak.
“We won six in a row,” Pelletier said, adding that the win against the Rebels buoyed the Skippers confidence.
Following the win against South Kingstown, they got an added boost of self-assurance with a shutout against East Greenwich.
“We beat East Greenwich 3-0 without two of our first-line players,” Pelletier said. “We realized we could play against anyone.”
Now the squad has control of second place in Division II South, and stands one game behind East Greenwich, who is 7-3.
“Our goal is to win the division,” Pelletier said.
The turnaround for the program comes just one year after the team went 1-10-1 and the school cut funding for ice hockey due to a fi- nancial crisis.
Pelletier said he is hopeful the hockey program will make a run at a state title and will have a future beyond this season. The players’ parents raised money to finance the team this year, and he does not know if the parents will be willing to do so again in the future – or if the school will opt to support the program next season.
Pelletier has not coached high school hockey since 1991 and he says the change from collegiate hockey has been hard. However, Howie Hague, the athletic director at North Kingstown, helped with the league regulations and made the experience very enjoyable, Pelletier said.
Hague has been “fantastic,” according to Pelletier, and the main reason for the Skippers success is also due to the caliber of the kids.
“I have good kids,” he said, adding that they’re pleasant to the coaches and to the staff at the ice rinks. They leave the locker rooms clean. Everyone tells him, “Your team is the best group,” he said.
Pelletier said he would be willing to come back and coach next year, although some parents have been unhappy about some of coaching decisions, and he is not sure he will be invited back. Because the parents arranged the team financing, some expected to have a say in the team management. A few objected when he brought in new players from the junior hockey league, and when he didn’t cut anyone from the roster.
“I took a lot of flak from the parents,” he said. But he needed the junior hockey league players – Lyle, Patrick Limoges and Iadealuca – to be competitive, he said. As for cutting players, the Skippers don’t have a junior-varsity squad, so if he cuts a player, the youngster has nowhere to go.
His own son was cut from a team during his senior year and never forgave the coach, Pelletier said.
The Skippers have 23 players on the roster. Besides Parkins, James- town is represented by Charles Tregenza, a sophomore, and freshman Anthony Antonucci.
Pelletier said last year’s team didn’t have a chance at a winning season. “They were playing in a division way over their heads,” he said.
The Rhode Island Interscholastic League recognized the mismatch and moved the Skippers down this year to Division II, where they have a chance to succeed.
Along with Pelletier, Lou Izzi and Bill Bennett round out the coaching staff.
“They go out on the ice,” Pelletier said about the kids. “They work hard and come ready to play.”