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Monday, March 4, 2013

Division II Primer

By: Luke Devoe

Here is a primer for today's Division II first round games.  Read the preview of each matchup, my prediction and below check out players to watch in this year's D2 State Tournament. 

ALL GAMES TUESDAY 3/5 (Times and Locations included)
#17 Newtown @ #1 Amity (7:00 @ Bennett Rink, West Haven)
Amity's Adam Shea leads all Spartans with 27 points this year.
Amity found out Monday night that they are getting #17 Newtown on Tuesday.  Newtown earned this spot after an offensive explosion that when dust settled saw them top #16 Conard 8-6.  Amity will rely on senior goalie Nick Nuzzolo and his impressive 2.21 GAA.  Amity is an odd team.  They don't stand out offensively.  They don't have any players who completely jump off the page at you but they continue to get the job done playing the hardest D2 schedule.  They will lean on junior Adam Shea (11 G, 16 A, 27 Pts.), junior Brett McNeil (13 G, 11 A, 24 Pts.) and the recently red hot senior Dane Simone.  Newtown will certainly have their hands full but Amity was only 2-4 over the final six.  Newtown, if not tired, will be pumped up after winning in the qualifying round.  Amity beware, the Nighthawks are going to be coming hard but in the end the Spartans will take this one.  Amity 5, Newtown 2

#9 North Branford @ #8 New Milford (7:00 @ Canterbury School, New Milford)
The 8/9 matchups are usually high quality affairs year in and year out.  This one pits the North Branford T-Birds who, at one point this season, looked like a shoe-in for a home game in the tourney.  North Branford went a measly 2-5-1 over their final 8 and went 6-7 against D2 tourney bound teams.  They are led by senior Dylan Podbielski (15 G, 22 A, 37 Pts.) and sophomore Alec Martone (18 G, 16 A, 34 Pts.) and have gotten respectable from senior Kyle Saroka.  New Milford beats teams on defense.  In fact, they beat this North Branford team doing just that earlier this year 3-0 in the two teams' lone meeting when senior goalie Matt DePalma stopped 36 shots.  DePalma has split goaltending duties with junior Nick Capriglione.  Both are competent and have proven to be quite the tandem.  My gut says the senior DePalma gets the call.  The Green Wave gets scoring from all over but junior Harrison O'Connell (18 G, 12 A, 30 Pts.) is a their go-to-guy.  This is arguably the hardest D2 matchup to call but I'm going with defense over offense and riding the Wave. New Milford 3, North Branford 2

#13 Fairfield Warde-Ludlowe @ #4 Watertown-Pomperaug (7:00 @ Taft-Mays Rink, Watertown)
Kevin Murphy has made things happen all year for WP.
Watertown-Pomperaug is coming off a SWC championship, a 5-1 defeat of #1 seed BBD in a game that was much closer than that score would indicate.  The Indians of WP are mean, talented and aren't afraid to mix it up.  They have scoring coming from all over the roster with five players at 16 points or more on the year and most importantly they have senior goalie Trevor St. Onge back in action after an extended injury absence.  Since returning, St. Onge won both SWC tourney games and grabbed tourney MVP honors.  Fairfield Co-op had an absolute up and down year beating the likes of Amity, Milford and Branford but losing duds to Trumbull and Trinity Catholic.  They have the firepower to hang with WP, scored 4+ goals eight times this season, but WP has their sights set on a state title.  Watertown-Pomperaug 5, Fairfield 2

#12 Fermi-Enfield @ #5 Branford (7:00 @ Northford Ice Pavilion, Northford)
Branford is fresh off their SCC D2 championship game loss to Hand.  Before that the Hornets had won 9 of 10 and looked like one of the hottest teams in the state.  That hasn't changed and Fermi-Enfield better have their A game on.  Fermi waited til the end of the season to qualify with wins in their final two games against Tri-Town and Conard.  Fermi has gotten excellent performances out of senior goalie Aaron Lickwar and he could be the difference in this one if Fermi wants a shot.  They are a potent offensive squad but need to help keep the puck out of the net.  They are led by senior Avery Boissy's 27 points (11 G, 16 A).  Branford is led by the Tyler's, Hackett and Criscuolo who have been electric for them all year.  In net the Hornets have two number one goalies.  One just happens to be the coach's kid.  AJ Brink and Alex Sarno have both been excellent this year.  Brink went with AJ in the SCC championship who took the loss and early reports out of Hornets' camp have Brink starting yet again.  I think Branford is as deep and talented on their back end as any team in D2.  Branford 4, Fermi 2

#15 Trinity Catholic @ #2 East Catholic (6:00 @ Champions Skating Center, Cromwell)
Trinity Catholic shutout Suffield-Granby-WL on Monday 3-0 to punch their official ticket to the dance.  Their reward? A first round date with #2 East Catholic.  Sophomore goalie Kyle Odierno was very good in net for the Crusaders in the qualifying round victory.  East Catholic has been solid gold all year.  They notched plenty of quality wins including going 7-2 against this field's competition.  East Catholic is deep.  They are led by goaltender Thomas Usseglio and get contributions from up and down the lineup including Griffin Casey, Dan Lemieux, and Lee Munson among others.  EC will be too much at the end of the day for Trinity, especially on short rest.  East Catholic 5, Trinity Catholic 1

#10 Daniel Hand @ #7 Northwest Catholic (7:20 @ International Skating Center, Simsbury)
NWC's Jeff Greenwood getting the worst of this collision.
Hand is coming off an interesting week.  They get rocked 9-2 by tourney eliminated Cheshire, go on to win the SCC D2 title in an inspired contest over piping hot Branford, and then drop a 5-1 affair to East Catholic.  They are led by all everything junior goalie Chase Briggs and tantalizing sophomore forward Ben Solin (18 G, 15 A, 33 Pts.) who is a wizard with the puck.  They better hope Briggs is in top form because one of the most impressive D2 offenses is being thrown at them.  NWC boasts three of D2's best offensive players in seniors Patrick Melanson (17 G, 28 A, 45 Pts.) and Jeff Greenwood (22 G, 22 A, 44 Pts.) and junior Demetri Yao (17 G, 26 A, 43 Pts.).  The Indians hit a rough patch towards the end of the year but won their final three, not allowing a goal in any over Suffield, Glastonbury and St. Bernard.  Those three shutouts boosted senior goalie Zach Hesketh's season total to six shutouts.  This could be the best D2 goalie matchup.  I'm very torn on this one.  NWC is hot right now but hasn't played in a while.  Hand is enigmatic and who knows which team will show up.  I think Hand coach Ryan Hardy will have his team ready similar to the Branford game and not the Cheshire or EC game and I'm taking Hand in a mild upset.  Daniel Hand 3, NWC 2

#14 Farmington Valley @ #3 Brookfield-Bethel-Danbury (6:00 @ Danbury Ice Arena, Danbury)
BBD is coming off a SWC final loss to Watertown-Pomperaug.  They face the biggest anomaly in the entire state...a Farmington Valley Generals squad who's beaten Watertown-Pomperaug, East Catholic and Northwest Catholic but lost some seriously lopsided affairs. They've proven they can play with the big boys.  In their first D2 season, BBD was impressive finishing 14-5-1.  They finished strong winning their final five regular season tilts and after defeating Masuk in the SWC semis lost to a good WP team.  BBD has a wealth of talent and spreads out their scoring well.  It's their defensive game that will carry them far, however.  Luiz Dibble has been good in net for them and their top D pairing of senior Scott Martin and junior Kevin Keiser is as good as it gets for D2.  Farmington Valley has the potential to beat BBD but if BBD brings what they've brought all year they should survive this trap game.  BBD 4, Farmington Valley 3

#11 Milford Co-op @ #6 Guilford (6:15 @ DiLungo Rink, East Haven)
Another insanely tight pairing will face off in East Haven.  Milford won the lone matchup this season between the two SCC foes 6-3 back on 2/14.  Guilford is a solid six seed.  They have good goaltending in freshman netminder Brandon Maio and they haven't really lost a "bad" game all year.  Defensively they are a stout club led by all world D man Ryan Moore and on offense sophomore Matt Horton has excelled above the rest.  Milford is led by one of the state's most electrifying players regardless of division.  Zachary White has tallied 59 points (28 G, 31 A) in only 20 games.  But remarkably, that's not all the fire power Milford brings.  Rob Buskey, Jon DePascale and Will Vitelli also provide plenty of punch for Milford to pull this one out.  In net expect junior John DePalma to get the call.  This one is a toss up and conventional wisdom would say go with Milford, they've beat em before.  I'm going to go out on a very short limb and pic Guilford.  This is way closer than a 11/6 matchup and this is why CTHSHockey will be on the scene!  Guilford 5, Milford 3
Guilford's Ryan Moore fires a shot contested by Hand's Ben Solin.
Nick Nuzzolo, Sr. G Amity
Brett McNeil, Jr. F Amity
Adam Shea, Jr. F Amity
Keating Seymour, Jr. F Amity
Evan Isaacs, Sr. F Newtown
Matt DePalma, Sr. G New Milford
Harrison O'Connell, Jr. F New Milford
Alec Martone, So. F North Branford
Dylan Podbielski, Sr. F North Branford
Kevin Murphy, Sr. F Watertown-Pomperaug
Trevor St. Onge. Sr. G Watertown-Pomperaug
Garrett Young, Sr. F Watertown-Pomperaug
Kevin Robinson, Jr. F Fairfield Warde-Ludlowe
Jack O'Rourke, Jr. F Fairfield Warde-Ludlowe
Tyler Hackett, So. F Branford
Tyler Criscuolo, So. F Branford
Matt Boulette, Jr. F Fermi-Enfield
Avery Boissy, Sr. F Fermi-Enfield
Griffin Northrop, So. F Trinity Catholic
Kyle Odierno, So. G Trinity Catholic
Thomas Usseglio, Jr. G East Catholic
Vinny Genovesi, Sr. F East Catholic
Griffin Casey, Jr. F East Catholic
Jeff Greenwood, Sr. F Northwest Catholic
Demetri Yao, Sr. F Northwest Catholic
Patrick Melanson, Sr. F Northwest Catholic
Zach Hesketh, Sr. G Northwest Catholic
Ben Solin, So. F Daniel Hand
Chase Briggs, Jr. G Daniel Hand
Sam LaFontaine, Fr. F Daniel Hand
Ryan Moore, Sr. D Guilford
Matt Horton, So. F Guilford
Zach Cattaruzza, Sr. F Guilford
Zach White, Jr. F Milford
Rob Buskey, Sr. F Milford
Jordan Warren, Sr. F BBD
Scott Martin, Sr. D BBD
Jeff Demers, Sr. F Farmington Valley
Nick Sanderson, Jr. F Farmington Valley

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