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Monday, March 4, 2013

CTHSHockey Qualifying Round Primer

By: Luke Devoe

Here is a primer for today's qualifying round games.  Division I is all set and will begin on Wednesday.  Division II has two "play-in" games today with first round action taking place tomorrow while Division III has a lone game set for tonight and quarterfinal play on Thursday.  Each day I will provide a primer, complete with a breakdown of the day's action as well as my predictions and players to watch.

ALL GAMES MONDAY 3/4 (Times and Locations included)
#18 Suffield-Granby-Windsor Locks @ #15 Trinity Catholic (5:10 @ Terry Conners Rink, Stamford)
TC's Northrop being hauled down in a game earlier this year.
With the winner to face #2 East Catholic, Terry Connors Rink in Stamford is the site of this play-in game.  #15 Trinity Catholic, a FCIAC school, looked left for dead this season before running off 6 of their final 7 regular season games including wins over Watertown-Pomperaug, Greenwich and Fairfield.  Their lone loss over that stretch came to #3 BBD.  Trinity Catholic will rely on the heroics of sophomore forward Griffin Northrop who's been won of the consistent point producers all year.  The Crusaders gets a #18 Suffield-Granby-Windsor Locks club who also excelled down the stretch finning 5 of their final 7 regular season games.  The Wildcats are led by sophomore Jake King, an offensive defenseman who contributes in what most would classify a forward role.  King has 36 points (21 G, 15 A) in 20 games this season.  The Wildcats have used three different players in net this year with no one really taking the reins.  Expect sophomore Shane Kertanis to get the call as he's been ridden over their latest successful stretch.  I think while both teams have been solid down the stretch, some of the Crusaders' wins have truly been impressive and eye opening.  Trinity Catholic 4, Suffield-Granby-Windsor Locks 2

#17 Newtown @ #16 Conard (7:00 @ Veteran's Rink, West Hartford)
In a very evenly paired matchup, #16 Conard hosts #17 Newtown.  Conard had a really rough stretch mid way through their season where they lost eight in a row.  They've since gotten their act together in order to qualify.  This one may come down to the experience factor.  Conard played 8 games against D1 opposition this year while Newtown only played one, a 4-1 loss to ND Fairfield.  Conard is led by senior forward Alex Bruttomesso and freshman sensation Grayson Lacroix who has put together a very nice first year for himself.  Newtown will have their hands full in this one but have beaten some big boys along the way to put themselves in this position.  The winner gets #1 Amity and I think Conard is too much for Newtown.  Conard 3, Newtown 1

#9 Housatonic-Northwestern-Wamogo @ #8 New Fairfield-Immaculate (7:40 @ Danbury Ice Arena, Danbury)
NFI's Dobos has been solid for this season for the 8 seed.
In the lone D3 qualifying game, #9 Housatonic-Northwestern-Wamogo battles with #8 New Fairfield-Immaculate for a shot at #1 Newington-Berlin.  Two teams who played predominantly D3 schedules this season (Housy played 19/20 games vs. D3, NFI played 14/20 vs. D3).  Neither is exactly battle tested which should cause this one to be tight.  NFI boasts a little more fire power than Housy and swept the season series in two tightly contested affairs, 3-1 and 1-0 in overtime.  In the first one, junior Brian Gunn notched two points to lead NFI.  In the second, an overtime goal by senior leader Bailey Brown and a 23 save shutout by junior Ryan Dobos propelled NFI to victory.  I don't see much of that changing.  NFI is the stronger team at this point and while I don't know how they'll fair against Newington-Berlin they should get past this hurdle.  NFI 4, Housy 1

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