PAWTUCKET — Mike Kinch must consider Lynch Arena his home ice.
The Cumberland High senior, whose family has strong ties to Pawtucket, led the Clippers to a 5-2 victory over the SRA-PCD-Wheeler Co-Op team on Saturday night by scoring two goals and assisting on another.
“Mike’s a strong player who skates well and has a good shot,” Cumberland coach Mark Andreozzi said after the game. Kinch now has six goals and nine assists on the season, putting him near the top of the state in points scored.
The Clippers, now 5-0 in Division II-North, took a 3-0 lead in the first period before the Co-Op team settled down. Kinch netted his first goal at the 6:14 mark. William Curren scored 2 ½ minutes later and then Kinch made it 3-0 on a power-play goal with 2:12 left in the opening stanza.
The Co-Op team scored its first goal with 66 seconds left in the period when SRA’s Ben Mello set up Matt Mollo for the goal that gave his team some life heading into intermission.
Cumberland took control of the game in the second period as goaltender Patrick Noke, in his first year as a starter, kept the home team off the scoreboard in an evenly-matched 15 minutes of hockey. Cumberland got the only goal of the period when Kinch set up Andrew Dulac at the 8:13 mark.
Noke would finish with 32 saves on the night, standing tall late in the game when Mello went in alone and came away with nothing as the Cumberland goalie snatched his shot with his glove from close range.
Cumberland took a 5-1 lead early in the third period on a goal by Nicholas Rainville from the top of the circle that eluded goalie Max Lemay. The Co-Op team picked up the game’s final goal midway through the third period with Mello again picking up the assist.
“Mello’s a very good player,” Andreozzi said. “They have a good team. We weren’t sure what to expect from them. Our guys might have been a little tired after playing a 9:30 game on Friday night. I thought we skated well and moved the puck for awhile and then we seemed to get a little lazy. We were probably tired. But we need to keep skating hard all game.”
Andreozzi must be feeling pretty good about his team. Seeing his first-year starter in goal come up big has been reassuring for the coach.
“Patrick has been strong since our first game,” Andreozzi said. “We’re feeling pretty good about the way he is playing.”
The Clippers return to action on the day after Christmas in the Toll Gate Holiday Tournament. They will face Mount Hope in their 5 p.m. opener at Thayer Arena on Dec. 26.
The SRA Co-Op team, a 7-1 loser to Coventry in its previous game, is now 2-2 in Division II action.