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PAWTUCKET â€“ Tolman High faces a serious challenge in its final four regular season games, meeting a 12-1-0 Johnston/North Providence team and a defensive-oriented East Providence (6-5-0) team that sits right behind the Tigers in the Division III standings. Tolman (8-4-0) faces both contenders twice.
â€śWeâ€™ve lost two games to Mount Hope (10-2-1) and twice to Cranston East (8-3-1),â€ť Tolman coach Steve Reynolds pointed out. â€śWeâ€™ve beat the teams we should have beat but now we have to finish our season against two good playoff teams.â€ť
The Tigers meet Johnston/N.P. on Saturday night in Smithfield and then face East Providence at the same rink two days later. They host their two foes on the final weekend of the regular season at Lynch Arena.
The top six teams in the Division make the playoffs. The top two get first-round playoff byes. Tolman would like to catch Cranston East for third place and home ice in the first round of the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Thunderbolt finishes with three of its final four games against teams with losing records â€“ Scituate (3-9-1), West Warwick (5-6-1) and Warwick Vets (2-10-0).
If form holds true, East Providence and Tolman will occupy the fourth and fifth seeds, in no particular order. The fourth seed would gain home ice in that potential matchup. Of course, home ice for both teams is Lynch Arena so the advantage will be virtually meaningless if this matchup comes to pass.
â€śI think weâ€™re in pretty good shape,â€ť Reynolds said. â€śHealth-wise, we are fine. We got Kris Wallace back from a shoulder injury and heâ€™ll give us some depth at forward. Iâ€™m very happy with our position right now. We can score with anyone. Itâ€™s going to be good for us to finish the regular season against two good teams.â€ť
Tolman is tied for second in D-III scoring with 71 goals in 12 games. Junior forward Kody Casavant leads the division with 28 goals and 18 assists. Linemate Jared Pedro is fourth with 14 goals and 20 assists.
Reynolds thinks his defense has to step up from here on out.
â€śWe need to give our goalie (Stephane Meunier) more help,â€ť the coach said. â€śStephane has been solid this season. I donâ€™t think he has hit a hot streak yet.â€ť
Tolman has yielded 37 goals in 12 games, slightly over 3 per game. The Tigers dropped 3-2 and 6-2 verdicts to Cranston East. Mount Hope (10-21) beat them 8-3 and 8-4 in two games the Tigers would like to forget.
â€śItâ€™s going to be a good test for us,â€ť Reynolds said, speaking of the next four games leading into the playoffs. â€śI think we are ready.â€ť