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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Division I Primer

By: Luke Devoe
Here is a primer for today's Division I first round games.  Read the preview of each matchup, my prediction and below check out players to watch in this year's D1 State Tournament. 

ALL GAMES WEDNESDAY 3/6 (Times and Locations included)
(1) Fairfield Prep (BYE)

(9) Glastonbury @ (8) Hamden (7:00 @ Lou Astorino Rink, Hamden)
The Green Dragons had an up and down season beating the likes of New Canaan and out of state powers Hingham (MA) and St. John's Prep (MA).  Recently, the Green Dragons tied NDWH in game where senior goalie and Hamden's backbone Matt Hoff turned aside 50+ shots.  Hamden will rely on smooth skating defenseman sophomore Joe O'Connor.  They will also look to the well chronicled sophomore forward Tyler Carangelo and a host of other skaters.  Hamden is excelling at the right time but face one of the state's strongest goalies in Glastonbury's Chase Gabor and his microscopic 1.87 GAA.  The Tomahawks' disbursement of points isn't as even as Hamden's as they've relied heavily this year on the heroics of senior Avery Clair (26 G, 12 A, 38 Pts.).  They will need production from more than him to be successful Wednesday night.  Hamden collected points in four of their last five games and have a rag tag bunch that could surprise.  On home ice, I'm taking the Dragons in a battle of two excellent netminders.  Hamden 4, Glastonbury 3

(13) West Haven @ (4) Xavier (6:00 @ Wesleyan Rink, Middletown)
Xavier is an interesting team.  Earlier this season they looked prime to compete with the Preps and the Notre Dames of the CT High School world but fell off toward the mid point of the season after tying Hamden, a stretch where the Falcons went 1-4-2.  Coincidently, the Falcons lost senior goalie and rock Shane Baldwin to an ankle injury.  Baldwin is now back and in action for Xavier which is not good news for the Westies.  Xavier is as deep you get with talented forwards including Jack Gethings, Andrew Meoli, Sean Johnson and so on.  The Westies are not deep but they boast one of the state's most entertaining players in senior Austin Hansen.  Hansen has put on his hardhat and carried his Blue Devil brothers throughout this season including 40 points to his credit.  But he's not alone entirely, junior Jimmy Morrissey has tallied 32 points this year playing the perfect Robin to Hansen's Batman the same way Hansen flanked Mike Troiano last season.  West Haven may be a year or two off with a ton of young talent.  Xavier is deep and starting to round back into form.  I'll take the Falcons.  Xavier 5, West Haven 2

(12) Greenwich @ (5) Ridgefield (5:10 @ Winter Garden Ice Arena, Ridgefield)
Ridgefield took the FCIAC by storm winning the conference tournament in dramatic fashion over some of the best the FCIAC offers.  Ridgefield has done a nice job getting support and scoring from all over a lineup filled with solid role guys.  Sean Wilkinson will not be coming out of their locker room but if they continue doing what they do well, they should be okay.  The Tigers will lean on but not rely on junior Cam McGuire and sophomore Alex Rowella.  Greenwich has been an interesting team in their own right.  They only win 3 games last season and run off a 12 win season this year.  They are led by sophomore Matt Lodato and senior captain Paul Macken.  They, too, are a team that gets production from up and down their lineup.  Sense a theme here?  When the two met in the regular season Ridgefield dispatched of them 3-1.  I see a similar game here, low scoring but with the Tigers eventually winning.  Ridgefield 3, Greenwich 2

(15) East Haven @ (2) ND West Haven (5:00 @ Bennett Rink, West Haven)
NDWH recently took care of East Haven with ease beating them 6-1 at DiLungo in a game that wasn't that close.  ND's top guns are fully locked and loaded.  Junior Billy Vizzo has lifted his game to new heights and his linemates senior Greg Zullo and sophomore Ryan Lynch have been the perfect supplement to his mastery this year.  NDWH is also very deep and can pour lines over the boards that can easily match the best the Easties offer.  East Haven's top line of Tristan Goodwin, Mike Falanga and Matt Longobardi account for a large chunk of the Easties scoring production.  If they falter in the slightest bit this one will get ugly early.  The Yellow Jackets live and die by those three and NDWH did a heck of a job quieting them down in their first meeting.  NDWH has seniors Luc Amatruda and Paul Sliwinski in net and both are very capable.  This one shouldn't be close but then again I didn't think the Hamden/NDWH game would be close and that ended in a tie.  NDWH 6, East Haven 2

(10) ND Fairfield @ (7) Simsbury (7:00 International Skating Center, Simsbury)
Simsbury very quietly landed at the 7 seed in this year's D1 tournament.  ND Fairfield lands at a very loud 10 seed after near victories against the state's best two teams.  Simsbury has a loaded top line and they are lucky to get senior David Olechna healthy for this one.  Olechna was questionable after a near devastating larynx injury.  He will be flanked by seniors Ryan Carpenter and Connor Rice.  This Trojan group is experienced and proven.  If NDF can shut down those guys they should be okay in this one.  The man in charge of doing that will be Canadian import goalie junior Stone Denbok (2.32 GAA) who has been fantastic for the Lancers this season.  The Lancers boast probably this games most talented forward in junior Christian La Croix (16 G, 17 A, 33 Pts.).  But the Lancers have gotten a goal from 16 skaters this year proving their depth.  This is the tightest of the first round matchups and I've gone back and forth but there's something to be said about what NDF was able to do against Prep and NDWH.  They deserve another shot at them.  NDF 3, Simsbury 2

(14) South Windsor @ (3) Darien (6:00 @ Darien Ice Rink, Darien)
South Windsor was one of the hottest teams down the stretch putting together some quality outings in order to clinch the final D1 bid.  Junior goalie Aiden Cain put the team on his back for a large part of their final outings but the Bobcats have gotten solid contributions from a few other players including Chris Gionfriddo, Josh O'Neal, Nick Jones, Chris Jones and Connor Hibbs.  Darien isn't feeling as happy and fortunate as the Bobcats.  They were ousted in the semifinals of the FCIAC conference tourney and in the loss they lost their leading scorer, captain and all-everything in Brendan Hathaway who's broken ankle ended his season early.  But the Wave will rally.  Tommy Watters and Jack Knowlton have been excellent all year for Darien as has the goalie duo of Michael Collins and Mike Colon.  Darien beat South Windsor 7-1 earlier this year.  I think they win again.  Darien 5, South Windsor 3

(11) New Canaan @ (6) St. Joseph (5:30 @ The Rinks, Shelton)
In what I think is probably the best first round game familiar foes face off on Wednesday. New Canaan is a much improved team over the team they were earlier this season but they are taking on a potent offensive St. Joseph unit.  St. Joe's took both meetings of the two teams this year, 6-3 earlier this season and recently 3-2 OT in the FCIAC semis.  St. Joseph senior CK Keator is an all world talent and has been relied on big time all year.  New Canaan has a couple of spark plugs that are certainly fun to watch in junior Harry Stanton and senior Puck Richardson.  This one could come down to goaltending where I give the edge to New Canaan's Chris Koenneke.  But if it becomes an offensive display, the Cadets have more options.  This one is a toss up as well but St. Joseph is just a better team at the end of the day. St. Joseph 5, New Canaan 4

Matt Hoff, Sr. G Hamden
Tyler Carangelo, So. F Hamden
Joe O'Connor, So. D Hamden
Chase Gabor, Sr. G Glastonbury
Avery Clair, Sr. F Glastonbury
Conor Thompson, Jr. F Glastonbury
Shane Baldwin, Sr. G Xavier
Andrew Meoli, Jr. F Xavier
Dan Dupont, Sr. D Xavier
Jack Gethings, Jr. F Xavier
Austin Hansen, Sr. F West Haven
Jimmy Morrissey, Jr. F West Haven
Alex Scranton, Jr. D West Haven
Alex Rowella, So. F Ridgefield
Cam McGuire, Jr. F Ridgefield
Dusty Rausa, Sr. G Ridgefield
Alex Bastone, So. F Greenwich
Paul Macken, Sr. F Greenwich
Matt Lodato, Jr. F Greenwich
Billy Vizzo, Jr. F NDWH
Greg Zullo, Sr. F NDWH
Darren Capobianco, Sr. D NDWH
Lou Iannotti, Jr. D NDWH
Zack Bouve, Jr. G East Haven
Mike Falanga, So. F East Haven
Jake Delguidice, Jr. D East Haven
David Olechna, Sr. F Simsbury
Ryan Carpenter, Sr. F Simsbury
Stone Denbok, Jr. G NDF
Sal Sereno, Sr. F NDF
Christian La Croix, Jr. F NDF
Tommy Watters, Jr. F Darien
Trent Bergin, Sr. F Darien
Jack Pardue, So. F Darien
Chris Gionfriddo, Sr. F South Windsor
Aiden Cain, Jr. G South Windsor
Josh O'Neal, Sr. F South Windsor
CK Keator, Sr. F St. Joseph
Andrew Gore, Sr. D St. Joseph
Ryan Corcoran, Jr. F St. Joseph
Chris Koenneke, Sr. G New Canaan
Harry Stanton, Jr. F New Canaan
Luke Amero, So. F New Canaan

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