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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Championship Week: Conference Championships/Tournaments

By: Luke Devoe

While some finish up their regular season this week, others prepare to add some hardware to the trophy case.  The SCC, FCIAC, CCC and SWC conference titles will be up for grabs this week and while some leagues like the SCC and CCC stick to only conference championships others rely on the traditional tournament style play to determine their league champion.  While the jury is still out on how people feel about the tournaments butting up against the much more lauded CIAC state tournament, there is no questioning the quality of hockey we will see this week.  Here is a look at the week's action conference by conference.

Southern Connecticut Conference (SCC)
Division I
2/27 8 p.m. @ High Point Solutions Arena @ TD Bank Sports Center, HamdenNDWH (16-4-0) vs. Fairfield Prep (19-1-0)
Previous Meetings: Prep 3, NDWH 1 & Prep 1, NDWH 0

The two met and played two of the SCC's most entertaining games of the year.  In the first, Prep used three first period goals and shut down transition and neutral zone defense to defeat the Knights 3-1 at Bennett Rink.  In the second of the two meetings, NDWH's only lapse was a last second goal at the end of the second period in a game that was evenly played throughout.  While both will claim their final goal is to be state champions skating the ice of Ingalls on the last day of the season, this one should be a dandy.  This IS your D1 state championship preview but almost didn't happen as Hamden pushed NDWH to think brink tying them 4-4 on 2/26.

Division II
2/27 6 p.m. @ High Point Solutions Arena @ TD Bank Sports Center, Hamden
Branford (11-6-2) vs. Daniel Hand (10-6-3)

Previous Meeting: Branford 2, Hand 1 & Branford 2, Hand 2

SCC's D2 race was as exciting as it gets and when the wheel stopped spinning it landed on Branford and Hand.  There many other deserving candidates but these two did what they had to do.  Tyler Criscuolo of Branford and Ben Solin of Hand are two of the more entertaining players in the state.  While Hand will no doubt go with Chase Briggs in net but it should be interesting to see if Branford goes with sophomore Alex Sarno or sophomore AJ Brink.
Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference (FCIAC)
(1) Darien 5, (8) Stamford 0
(2) St. Joseph 5, (7) Fairfield 1
(3) New Canaan 4, (6) Greenwich 2
(4) Ridgefield 5, (5) Trinity Catholic 2

2/27 7:30 Terry Connors Rink, Stamford
Darien (16-2-2) vs. Ridgefield (15-5-0)

Previous Meeting: Darien 6, Ridgefield 3

Throughout much of the regular season these were the top two FCIAC teams until a late charge by St. Joe's.  While neither team was able to best the state's top two dogs (NDWH & FP) they beat up on the FCIAC pretty darn hard.  Ridgefield however only went 2-2 over their final two barely beating Wilton and losing convincingly to New Canaan and this Darien club. The Wave were at the top of the heap all season but were shown to be very beatable against Prep and were given all they could handle in ties against New Canaan and St. Joe's.  The FCIAC is very comparable in the top four this year which should lead to an excellent semifinals.

2/27 5:30 Terry Connors Rink, Stamford
St. Joseph (15-4-1) vs. New Canaan (12-6-2)

Previous Meeting: St. Joseph 6, New Canaan 3

The Cadets beat the Rams in early January when both teams were a shadow of their current selves.  St. Joseph went (9-0-1) over their final ten while New Canaan ran off seven straight before dropping their final two to ND Fairfield and Darien.  This should be one for the ages.  The Rams' Chris Koenneke has been very good in net this year but faces a potent St. Joe's offense led by all everything center CK Keator and co.

FINALS- 3/2 6:00 @ Terry Connors Rink
Central Connecticut Conference (CCC)

CCC North Championship
3/2 2:00 Trinity College Rink, Hartford
Glastonbury (12-7-0) vs. Simsbury (13-6-0)
Previous Meetings: Simsbury 3, Glastonbury 2 OT & Simsbury 2, Glastonbury 1

Both teams have shown extended periods of brilliance but have also laid some eggs this year.  Glastonbury's Avery Clair has shown true star power but Simsbury has the more complete team up and down the roster.  This one can go either way and it's incredibly hard to beat the same team three times in a year especially when you're as comparable as these two. 

CCC East Championship
3/2 4:30 Trinity College Rink, Hartford
Farmington Valley (7-11-0) vs. E Catholic (14-5-0)
Previous Meetings: EC 3, Farmington 2 & Farmington 2, EC 1 OT

Many would've liked to have seen Northwest Catholic get another shot at East Catholic but Farmington Valley, barring a complete collapse Thursday against Wethersfield (would need to be beaten by 5+ goals), earned their way into the CCC East final.  The Generals have proven to not be intimidated by East Catholic narrowly falling to them 3-2 and beating them in OT.  This one could go either way but at the very least expect FV to keep it tight.

CCC South Championship
3/2 7:00 Trinity College Rink, Hartford 
Hall-Southington (12-6-1) vs. BCR (16-1-2) 
Previous Meetings: BCR 3, Hall 0 & BCR 6, Hall 1

Take your D1 and D2 matchups and enjoy them but I think the prized gem of the CCC Championships is between D3's Hall-Southington and BCR.  Here you have a talented, hungry Hall team who's been beaten fairly significantly by BCR and hasn't been able to solve BCR goalie Cam Earle.  You know they've had this one circled and it should be a great one.

South-West Conference (SWC)
2/28 5:00 Danbury Ice Arena, Danbury
New Milford (13-5-2) vs. Water-Pomp (14-4-1)

Previous Meetings: WP 2, New Milford 0 & WP 3, New Milford 3 OT

This should be a great tilt between two very even teams.  WP probably has the better offense where New Milford does a better job of slowing things down and relying on their back end.  Watertown-Pomperaug is a very deep team and went (3-1-1) over their final five.  New Milford has shown staying power and the ability to beat a quality team.  They went (4-0-1) over their last five.  The one tie for each team was against each other.

2/28 7:20 Danbury Ice Arena, Danbury
Masuk (11-8-1) vs. BBD (14-5-1)

Previous Meetings: BBD 4, Masuk 2

Masuk had quite the battle with Newtown and NFI to gain the number 4 seed in this semi.  Their reward?  A very talented BBD squad who's won five straight since dropping a tough 2-1 decision to D1's ND Fairfield.  BBD has plenty of quality wins under their belt this season and is the odds on favorite going into this tourney going 3-0 against the teams they'll be facing.

FINALS- 3/2 4:20 @ Danbury Ice Arena

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