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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Wednesday's On Site Recap

By: Luke Devoe

#3 Darien 2, #6 Hamden 1
Hamden's Carangelo opposed by Darien's Hathaway
The play in the first game of yesterday's double header at Darien Ice Rink mirrored the sight lines in the dingy lit rink... eh.  #6 Hamden took to the ice against #3 Darien in the season opener for both teams.  These teams had a lot of similarities heading in, new goalies on both sides, Matt Hoff for Hamden, and Michael Collins (not the Irish revolutionary leader) for Darien, stud players poised to break out, Tyler Carangelo for Hamden and Brendan Hathaway for Darien and some key losses that should dictate the early part of the season for both teams.  After a tight first in front of a raucous Darien student section, the teams skated to a 1-1 tie.  The Blue Wave got on the board first with an opening shift goal from captain and leading scorer Hathaway.  Hamden responded with a dandy of a goal from senior Mike Regan.  In the second, Darien came out playing causing Hoff to turn aside plenty of good chances.  About five minutes in, play shifted towards the Darien defensive zone and it was Hamden's turn to rattle Collins' cage.  Hamden dominated the final 10 of the period but it was all for naught, held off the scoreboard and the teams would head to the second intermission locked at one.  In the third, the teeter totter play continued heading back in Darien's favor.  Their neutral zone dominance and frustrating "clog up" style of play stifled Hamden entering their O-zone and play was predominantly down in Hamden goalie Matt Hoff's end.  Finally with about five and a half to play, Darien junior Tommy Watters capped off a really solid game taking a feed from fellow junior Owen Koorbusch and potting it home into a gaping net giving the Wave a 2-1 and the game winner.  Hamden struggled in the final minutes to get any sort of offense going.  Hoff would finish with 22 saves and Collins with 15.

#1 Notre Dame-West Haven 2, #10 New Canaan 0
In the night cap, the atmosphere dropped down completely with the New Canaan student section not coming close to the Wave's.  In a quiet environment, on opening night, working out the jitters, the Green Knights allowed the Rams to play with them for most of this one.  The first would end scoreless with Notre Dame controlling play for the most part.  On numerous occasions New Canaan's senior goalie and captain Chris Koenneke was outstanding.  The second appeared as if it, too, would end scoreless until a goal mouth scrambled resulted in senior Jesse Ruocco punching home a puck just as the buzzer sounded.  From my vantage point it was a good goal and with no clear disagreement from the Ram coaching staff it appeared they agreed as well.  Carrying a 1-0 lead into the third, the Knights went back on their heels a bit.  NDWH was assessed a ton of minors in this one and played a large part of the game on the kill.  In the third it almost came back to bite them but senior goalie Luc Amatruda was excellent when he needed to be but pressured a lot.  Billy Vizzo was able to pot an empty netter to seal the win for the Knights.  In a losing effort Koenneke was outstanding stopping 39 NDWH shots.  Amatruda finished with 23 saves.

PLAYERS WHO STOOD OUT 12/12: Mike Regan, F, Hamden (1 G, great speed, all out effort); Tommy Watters, F, Darien (1 G, many chances, scored game winner); Matt Hoff, G, Hamden (22 saves, some huge ones late to keep Dragons in it); Harry Stanton, F, New Canaan (fastest skater on the ice in game two at DIR, will have huge year); Chris Koenneke, G, New Canaan (39 saves, some of the highlight reel variety); Jesse Ruocco, F, NDWH (1 G, 1 A, breathed life into a frustrated Knights club with his last second goal, also can fly); Dylan Podbielski, F, North Branford (2 G, 1 A leading Thunderbirds to first SCC win); Tim Edmonds, F, Fairfield Prep (1 G, 2 A in dominant win over Ridgefield); Brendan Richard, F, Newington-Berlin (Hat trick, clearly showing he's picked up where he left off last year in Newington-Berlins 9-3 win over Staples-Weston-Shelton); Will Thompson & Jaarod Florian, F, Hall-Southington (Both notched a hat trick in Hall-Southington's 8-4 win over Lyman Hall-HK)

MY REACTION: The big winners of the day have to be the Jesuits of Fairfield Prep who demolished Ridgefield 6-1.  Most impressive out of that game is the fact that the six goals came from six different goal scorers.  Ridgefield is a far cry from the team they were last year.  Without Sean Wilkinson, they're going to have to find an identity and a way to score.  NDWH got the kind of win that goes a long way in your season.  Opening night is always tough, especially on the road against a pesky squad like New Canaan.  If Amatruda can be as good as he was last night, the Knights are in good shape as one of the the top two teams in the state.  Darien and Hamden looked very even as a second tier group of teams behind NDWH and Prep.  Hamden seemed to have little to no flow offensively and their D would get pinned in their zone on more than one occasion.  Matt Hoff looks like the real deal in net for them.  If players like Tommy Watters can produce, the Blue Wave will be way more successful this year because if not, any team can key the Hathaway line and cruise to victory.  Chris Koenneke was a beast in net for New Canaan but they had some serious issues generating scoring chances.  On the upset front, Greenwich, 3-17 last season, topped the Westies in their home opener at Bennett 4-2.  Greenwich just two years removed from being relevant needed this win for confidence while the loss may leave West Haven scrambling.  Cheshire was also upset by Fairfield Warde-Ludlowe.  Senior goalie and replacement of long time goalie Tyler Carbone, Scott Romano did all he could in the 1-0 loss.  Guilford looked impressive in a losing effort (2-1 to St. Joseph).  They will be a contender in D2 this year.  While Newington-Berlin again showed they don't belong in the Division III ranks.  The disparity is obvious in CT high school hockey but you'll be hard pressed to find a team at the D3 level to compete with these guys this year.  Winning last year and not being required to move up is a joke.  They're talented enough to compete at a D2 level.  With D1 getting more competitive this year, D2 gaining teams like Amity and W-F-A, it's about time the CIAC looks to revamp D2 and D3 for competitive balance.  I'm not taking anything away from Newington-Berlin, I saw them play at Ingalls last year and they were very entertaining but I don't believe they are playing up to their ability right now.  It was a great first night out.  I will be in Hamden on Saturday when New Canaan comes calling.  The game should be fairly even.  It'll be interesting to see who rebounds easier from Wednesday's losses.

Wednesday's Scores
#1 Notre Dame-West Haven 2, #10 New Canaan 0
#2 Fairfield Prep 6, #5 Ridgefield 1
#3 Darien 2, #6 Hamden 1
St. John's-Shrewsbury (MA) 3, #4 Xavier 1
#7 Glastonbury 4, Trinity Catholic 2
#8 St. Joseph 2, Guilford 1
Greenwich 4, #9 West Haven 2
Simsbury 2, South Windsor 1
East Haven 6, Stamford 2
Fairfield Warde-Ludlowe 1, Cheshire 0

D2 & D3
Windsor-Farmington-Avon 7, Wethersfield 0
Masuk 4, Newtown 3
North Branford 4, Milford Co-op 1
Wilton 4, Tri-Town 2
Newington-Berlin 9, Staples-Weston-Shelton 3
Fermi-Enfield 1, Westhill 1 (OT)
E.O. Smith-Tolland-Windham 10, Fitch-East Lyme-Ledyard 1
East Catholic 5, NFA-St. Bernard-Bacon 4
Hall-Southington 8, Lyman Hall-HK 4
Watertown-Pomperaug 3, Trumbull 1
Shepaug 2, Immaculate-New Fairfield 1

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