Two days, four games, four regionally close teams, decent crowds, yours truly on the premises and really only one quality, competitive game. In the end Notre Dame-West Haven, with a pair of 7-2 victories toppled the lesser competition and showed that they are truly a team to be reckoned with this year. The Golden Knights showed speed, tenacity and depth. They have true leadership in senior captain Colby Cretella and some serious staying power with underclassmen like Eric Austin, William Vizzo and Greg Zullo all collecting multi goal games this week. But we'll get to all of that in due time. The best game of the tournament didn't feature NDWH. The opener on Wednesday between North Haven and West Haven proved to be the only competitive, closely matched game of the tourney and if it wasn't for a last minute goal, we wouldn't have even had that.
#10 North Haven 5, #5 West Haven 4
I think it goes without saying that North Haven was the underdog in this matchup and early on it looked as if they would struggle to keep up with the faster, seemingly better Blue Devils. With much contact and physicality early North Haven seemed to even up the level of the play. The teams went back and forth for a while until senior Mike Troiano worked his magic and sent a pretty feed to a wide open Austin Hansen while entering the zone, the junior was able to dispose of the puck easily and give West Haven a 1-0 lead. At this point everything seemed to be going the Westies way. They were winning every board battle and owning possession of the puck in their zone for extended periods of time. Finally, North Haven was able to get a puck towards the net where a waiting Tyler DeMartin appeared, at least from where I was standing, to direct the puck into the net with his skate. High school hockey being what it is there was no review much to the dismay of many of the West Haven faithful. With under a minute to go DeMartin, again crashing the net like any big bodied forward should, was able to again allow the puck to careen off his body and behind West Haven goalie Justin Shepard. This one, in my opinion, wasn't as controversial, just a rush towards the net and a redirection in. Regardless, the Indians without scoring a goal with their sticks, took a 2-1 lead into the break. North Haven tallied another early on in the second as an opportunistic Ken Broccoli found himself all alone with Shepard and poked one home to make it 3-1. Penalties became an issue which would force a captain's meeting after the period but also would cause a 4 X 3 opportunity for the Westies. On the powerplay, do everything winger Troiano found fellow senior Kyle Leyerzapf for a dandy of a one timer and the Blue Devils cut the lead to 3-2. The Indians didn't wait long and senior Andy Babbidge found junior Karl Anderson free for a one timer right past Shepard's right skate, 4-2 Indians. Toward the end of the period Austin Hansen broke free and put a point blanker on North Haven's Mike Amarone who was able to come up with a monster save to preserve the 4-2 lead going into the break. Amarone, with the exception of some late third period complacency was excellent all night for the Indians. Early in the third, Anderson was able to return the favor and get the puck to Babbidge who, in close, gave North Haven a 5-2 lead, which seemed safe with Amarone stealing the show at the other end. Then, with nearly 7 minutes to go Troiano came through again and found a familiar face as Austin Smith notched his second goal of the game to make it 5-3. With under a minute to go sophomore Jim Morrissey was able to deflect a point shot to cut the lead to 5-4 but that would be as close as the Westies would get. North Haven earned a huge semi final win and solidified the belief I had in them ranking them this week when no one else did.
#2 Notre Dame-West Haven 7, Amity 2
Bill Derosa's Golden Knights have had quite the start the their season and looked prime to compete with the Preps and Hamdens of the CT hockey scene this year but a couple of wins in this tourney would really make that notion sink in. It didn't start out great for NDWH. Amity captain Joe Bianchi picked off a pass only 1:30 into the game and sent it past ND goalie Luciano Amatruda to make it 1-0 Amity. ND's Eric Austin would respond in due time and allow ND to head into the break tied 1-1. The game seemed to have a similar feel at this point to the Amity/Hamden game where Amity hung with the Green Dragons for a bit and then fell apart ultimately finishing with the same score as this one. Sophomore stud Bill Vizzo connected giving the Knights a 2-1 lead and Bianchi did his best to keep Amity in it tallying his second unassisted goal of the game but only 21 seconds after that Alex Esposito put Notre Dame ahead for good and went into the break with a 3-2 lead. The third period saw goals from Vizzo, his second, Austin, his second, captain Colby Cretella and Austin Iovene. The final was set, #2 NDWH versus #10 North Haven.
Consolation Game: #5 West Haven 8, Amity 2
A five goal game out of junior Austin Hansen and a goal and four assists from senior Mike Troiano allowed the Westies to stave off Amity and avoid embarrassment in their holiday tournament. Kyle Leyerzapf and Brandon Cangiano also scored for the Blue Devils while Ryan Hauser and Adam Shea notched Amity's only goals.
Championship Game: #2 Notre Dame-West Haven 7, #10 North Haven 2
Familiar score? NDWH received two goal efforts from Bill Vizzo and Greg Zullo, who both also tallied two assists, and Colby Cretella. In a game where penalties reigned supreme and chirps could be heard on Campbell Avenue, Derosa's boys kept their composure and displayed pure dominance for the most part of the championship game in the inaugural West Haven Holiday Tournament.
ALL WEST HAVEN HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT TEAM
MVP: F So. Bill Vizzo (NDWH) 4 goals, 3 assists- Dynamic scorer on what could be best line in the state. Could've given MVP to Troiano or Hansen, but their team didn't win.
F Jr. Greg Zullo (NDWH) 2 goals, 4 assists- Zullo & Vizzo may have Derosa thinking dynasty.
F Sr. Colby Cretella (NDWH) 3 goals, 2 assists- A true captain, carries himself huge on the ice.
D Sr. John Johnson (North Haven) 1 goal- A true personality, gritty, and just about the only pulse North Haven had towards the end Friday, plus he may have had the prettiest goal of the tourney.
F Sr. Joe Bianchi (Amity) 2 goals, 1 assist- Tried his best to keep Amity in it with NDWH.
F Sr. Mike Troiano (West Haven) 1 goal, 7 assists- Probably the best player on the ice both nights, passing ability and vision are unmatched.
F Jr. Austin Hansen (West Haven) 7 goals, 1 assist- 7 goals in two games, are you kidding? You could argue he's a product of being on a line with Troiano, but the kids got skills.
*No goaltender really stood out. Notre Dame split their two games. Amarone of North Haven was awesome Wednesday and horrible Friday and Westies split theirs after Shepard was less than stellar against North Haven.
#3 Hamden 5, New Canaan 3
The Hamden Green Dragons got goals from five different players on Friday and staved off a pesky New Canaan squad in route to a 5-3 road victory to improve to 3-0-0 on the season. New Canaan dropped to 2-3-0 on the year. Hamden's Ted Kennedy had a goal and two assists while Bill Reilly, Tim Lee, Eric Sullivan and Tyler Carangelo also scored.
#1 Fairfield Prep goes 1-2 at Mount St. Charles Holiday FaceOff
The Jesuits took home one of three at the highly regarded Mount Saint Charles Holiday Face Off Tournament. On Wednesday Prep lost to Bishop Hendricken 3-1, rebounded and beat Springfield Cathedral 5-0 on Thursday and finally lost 3-2 to St. Joseph's Buffalo on Friday. Given the competition you can't bat an eye at a 1-2 finish. In my opinion, they are still the team to beat in Connecticut but will be put to the test Wednesday at the TD Bank Sports Center against Hamden.