CHICAGO — In the world of hockey, Mount Saint Charles is synonymous with excellence on and off the ice.
With 32 state high school championships at the varsity level and more than 20 alumni drafted into the National Hockey League, including two first overall draft picks, this storied prep school located in Woonsocket, R.I., packs a powerful punch despite hailing from the smallest state in the union.
Much of the credit has been bestowed on the shoulders of legendary head coach Bill Belisle, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 92. Over the course of his four decades years at the helm of this Rhode Island hockey institution, the 2016 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductee created a legacy that lives on today.
More than just a prep powerhouse, Mount Saint Charles has created a potent club system that is making noise on the national level. This year the program has four teams competing at Chipotle-USA Hockey National Championships at the Youth Tier I level.
Back home in Woonsocket, the school is rallying behind their classmates by watching games streamed live at Chapel Hall, where students are invited to stop by if they have a free period.
Miles away from campus, the 14U Saints team certainly gave their classmates a lot to cheer about as they scored three goals in 44 seconds early in the third period to snap a 2-2 tie, on their way to a 6-2 victory over the Philadelphia Junior Flyers in the tournament opener for both teams.
“Just getting here and sitting around for two days waiting to play I think you definitely saw a little bit of nerves early in the game, but that’s to be expected when you’re playing for a national championship,” Saints head coach Frank O’Connor said.
“Now that we have one under our belt, I think we’re feeling much better about ourselves and I think you’ll see that moving forward.”
As the game wore on and O’Connor’s Chargers found their legs, the continued to press the Flyers defensive corps with a relentless forecheck that has been a hallmark for the team that compiled a 45-10-4 as one of the top teams in the country.
As he’s done for most of the season, dynamic forward Conrad Fondrk paced the Saints attack with a hat trick, including goals in the final minute of both the first and second period, and Ryan Denes made 18 stops.
For all the success Mount Saint Charles has had at the state prep level, Rhode Island youth teams are overdue to win a national championship. The last team from the Ocean State to skate home with the crown is a squad from Edgewood won the 15U Tier II crown in 1992.
The Saints are off to a good start and looking to write their own history here in Chicago.
Conrad Fondrk celebrates one of his three goals in the RI Saints opening game at the 2022 Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier I 14U National Championship in Chicago, Ill.