WARWICK — Those reports on Cumberland’s demise down the stretch have been greatly exaggerated.
The Clippers put the clamps on a four-game winless streak in a very big way on Monday afternoon by beating the team they are battling for second place in the Division II-North ranks, Pilgrim.
Andrew Dulac and Michael Kinch supplied the early scoring and goaltender Patrick Noke turned away 27 shots to lead the Clippers to a much-needed 2-0 victory at Thayer Arena.
The win hikes the Clippers’ mark to 11-4-2 and puts them in a tie for second place with the Patriots, who on Feb. 3, handed the Clippers their first loss of the year and sent them on a downward spiral that saw them go 0-3-1 in their last four games.
The Clippers were also coming off a 4-1 upset loss to five-win Toll Gate that saw them turn in one of their worst showings of the season and raised quite a few concerns for head coach Mark Andreozzi.
“We just haven’t been playing well,” he offered. “Last game, we just weren’t moving the puck or doing anything that we talked about. But tonight was all about getting back to playing Clipper hockey, working hard, and doing the little things. That’s the way we’re supposed to play, and I thought we played an excellent three periods of hockey.”
Another reason for the Clippers’ tough stretch had been the various injuries and illnesses that hit the roster. In their last loss to Pilgrim, they dressed just 16 players, but in Monday’s rematch, they suited up 19, while the hosts had just 15 in uniform.
“We have a couple of guys still on the mend,” reported Andreozzi, “but I got two kids back this week, and all the guys who had the flu are finally feeling healthy. Today, that extra little depth was important and it gave our first two lines that little extra rest and little jump in the third period that we needed.”
The Clippers netted the only goal they needed midway through the opening period when Dulac tipped in a pass from Kinch in heavy traffic in front of the net, and Kinch, who missed some time with a shoulder injury, notched his team-leading 21st goal of the season (an unassisted score) 4:09 into the second period.
The Patriots, who were shut out for the first time this year, had their chances to light the lamp, especially in the second period when their 20-goal scorers, co-captains Cody Weaver and Nick McGuirl, buzzed the Clippers’ goal, but Noke and the rest of the defense did their part to contain them.
“We needed this win bad,” added Andreozzi. “It felt like we haven’t won a game in forever. We needed a win and we got it against a very good team, and it’s a great confidence boost because of the team we played, how good they are, and where they are in the standings.
“But the biggest thing we were looking for today is the kids playing the way they’re supposed to play. We told them that if they do that, everything else will just take care of itself.”
The Clippers have one more game left before heading into the playoffs, and it’s a game that should help them prepare for the postseason. They will host first-place Coventry, which is 15-1 and hasn’t lost since suffering a season-opening loss to Pilgrim. This game will take place on the Clippers’ ‘Senior Night’ on Friday at 9:30 p.m. at Adelard Arena.