|Hamden's Hoff was outstanding preserving a 2-2 tie.|
In one of the most exciting games I've seen this year the Xavier Falcons were able to force a tie with a desperate and vindictive Hamden squad. Hamden would open the scoring midway through the first when sophomore Tyler Carangelo, who was playing his first game on D (more on that later), came in hard on Xavier goalie Shane Baldwin's right. Keeping the puck low, Carangelo was able to slide the puck far post past Baldwin giving Hamden a 1-0 lead. The Green Dragons would carry that lead into the first intermission after playing a very complete period. Xavier did not look like the team we saw in the West Haven Christmas Tournament but would turn things around heading into the second. It didn't take the Falcons long to get going. Under a minute into the second, Xavier's Bryan Stanton, waiting at the blue line would take a feed, walk in on Hamden goalie Matt Hoff, go forehand, backhand and beat the Hamden netminder knotting the game at 1. About three minutes later, Hamden would be given a gift and Baldwin would be left shaking his head. Hamden sophomore defensemen Tim Gontarski, who had an excellent game squashing multiple Falcon odd man rushes, would take the puck at center ice, spin to send it in zone but the puck would deflect off a stick, go airborn and find a gaping hole as Baldwin was left standing, clueless in the crease. Easily the oddest goal I've seen this season but it gave Hamden a 2-1 lead that would hold up until mid way through the third. Xavier would kill off an extended two man Hamden advantage in the second and would head into the break trailing Hamden 2-1. The game starting tilting in Xavier's favor in the third and with just under ten minutes left it was Stanton again, this time just inside the right circle roofing a snipe past Hoff evening the game at 2. Both Hoff and Baldwin would have some huge saves as regulation would wind down but it was Hoff that was the story. The senior netminder, who played juniors last season, was big, took up a ton of net, bravely came out of his crease and challenged shooters and single handedly got Hamden to overtime. In the extra frame both teams skated evenly and seemed rather pooped til about two minutes remained when play started picking up but a couple missed nets, big saves and squandered opportunities left this one as a deadlock. Hamden 2, Xavier 2. Hoff would finish with 29 saves, many of them of the dramatic variety and Xavier's Baldwin would finish with 33. This was one of the best efforts I've seen from Hamden this year and if it wasn't for a very poor first the Falcons skated well too. The physicality of this game was insane. The officials were letting the boys play and finished checks were aplenty. Hamden's Carangelo was a difference maker throughout and as I tweeted last night, I've been overly critical of his play going back to last season. He wowed last night. On the blue line with fellow sophomore Joe O'Connor, Hamden coach Billy Verneris may have found an odd combination that seemed to work. Carangelo played a defensively sound, contributive game that truly made him a difference maker throughout. Xavier got solid contributions from all their usual suspects, especially Jack Gethings, Sean Johnson and defenseman Dan Dupont. If Hamden brings that effort on Saturday, they should have no issue with West Haven. If they play like they did against North Haven and St. Joseph it will be a game.
|St. Onge came up huge on a number of occasions for WP Wednesday night.|
In the opener at Wesleyan last night I caught a Division I team who hasn't won a game all year and a Division II team undefeated coming in. The teams skated very evenly throughout and looked comparable both across the ice and in opposing creases as Cheshire goalie Scott Romano and WP goalie Trevor St. Onge were both magnificent in net. With under five to play in regulation this one was looking like it was headed to overtime locked at a 0-0 score until after an excellent board battle Watertown-Pomperaug's Kevin Murphy broke free, found himself in the slot and was able to push the puck past Romano who'd been impenetrable to that point. All looked lost for Cheshire until, with an extra attacker, and 13 seconds left in regulation they were able to dent St. Onge's armor scoring the equalizer, sending the bench and the Rams cheering section into hysterics. Tyler Lima at the doorstep was able to finally beat St. Onge after multiple quality Ram attempts. Again the game looked like it was going to finish in a tie until, with just over three minutes to play, WP's Earl Harwell raced to a loose puck in the left circle, spun and put the puck on net where an unsuspecting Romano was caught off guard and the game winner would find the back of the net. This goal was almost as odd as the one Shane Baldwin let in, in the Hamden game. Romano would finish with 33 saves in the loss and St. Onge would stop an impressive 41 in victory. It was a heartbreaking loss for the Rams who now fall to (0-8-0). This is their second overtime loss, their sixth loss by one goal and their second straight to Division II competition. With Fairfield Prep and Hamden looming as well as Notre Dame-West Haven later in the year the Rams are in a world of hurt and have dug a very deep hole. This team is far too talented to be winless but that's why we play the games. On the flip side, Watertown-Pomperaug is a force to be reckoned with this year. They are now (6-0-0) and they have now beaten Division I teams in consecutive games. While their other four wins are against D2 and D3 teams who are a combined 5-21 let's take nothing away from what they've done over the last two games. While seniors Murphy and Harwell stood out on the scoresheet there were other Indians who stood out for the intangibles. From my vantage point senior Kyle Block was all over the ice, skating hard and making things happen. This was my first exposure to WP this year as I have seen Cheshire a few times now. Not only do they boast one of the nicest jerseys, an orange and black hybrid version of the Blackhawks crest, they boast a senior class as deep as any in the state led by forward Garrett Young, forward Phil Lequellec, forwards Block, Murphy and Harwell, as well as an experienced D core. Their most valuable asset may be their netminder Trevor St. Onge who owned a 1.20 GAA heading into action. The team is legit but will be challenged. They face Cheshire again, North Haven twice, BBD, New Milford twice, Amity, and the list goes on. If they are to continue their success they have to keep doing what they're doing, beating up on the teams they're supposed to and winning close games against the better competition. At least for one night, I was impressed.
PLAYERS WHO IMPRESSED- "The Night Belonged To the Goalies":
|Amity's Nick Nuzzolo|