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Monday, December 30, 2013

Elite Predictions (1/1-1/7)

By: Luke Devoe

This week may be a wash because of an incoming storm that will alter games Thursday, Friday and maybe even Saturday.  I had a better week last week thanks in large part to the West Haven Xmas Tournaments.  Let's see how this week goes.  

Elite Predictions: Mark these on the calendar
Last Week: (9-5) *still waiting on Xavier vs. Cheshire 12/31  Season: (14-14)

1/2 East Haven @ North Haven 3:40, Northford Ice Pavilion
East Haven could potentially be 6-0 entering this game depending on how they do against Hand.  North Haven has already built a strong track record at the D2 level but fell to Simsbury, a team in my estimation that's slightly worse than East Haven.  I'm incredibly torn on this one.  I think East Haven's tilt against Hand will help more than North Haven's against Woodstock Academy.  I'll take the Easties, but I'm not too confident in it. East Haven 4, North Haven 3
1/2 Notre Dame-West Haven @ Darien 5:40, Darien Ice Rink
A great game at the DIR to kick off the new year.  NDWH has been outstanding since an opening night loss to New Canaan. Darien has already done something no other CT team can say they've done over the past two years. This one should be very close. I think Darien has the better goaltending in senior Mike Colon, but I think NDWH has enough fire power to beat him.  NDWH wins. NDWH 4, Darien 2
1/3 Newington-Berlin @ BCR 8:20, Bolton Ice Palace
In the first of a home and home rivalry matchup (the two meet again on Saturday in Newington), BCR lines up against a quality opponent for the first time this year.  Newington-Berlin returns home after a solid trip to New Hampshire.  I think Newington-Berlin is the more complete team right now and they win this one.  Depending on adjustments, BCR could take one the following day, but for now I'll back the Indians. Newington-Berlin 5, BCR 2
1/4 Tri-Town @ Hall-Southington 1:00, Veteran's Memorial Rink
Tri-Town is off to a great start.  Hall-Southington has the tendency to either disappear completely or upset a favored team.  I think Tri-Town, at the D3 level, is the real deal.  Tri-Town takes this one against a Hall-South team that's hard to read. Tri-Town 3, Hall-Southington 1
1/4 GAME OF THE WEEK Notre Dame-West Haven @ Fairfield Prep 1:00, Wonderland of Ice
Do I even need to put it in red ink?  This will always be the Game of the Week. NDWH has been playing really well but this week is brutal with road games at Darien and Prep. Prep is coming off a quality 2-1 showing at the Mount tourney where I think they started to gain some confidence and some identity. Goaltending has been strong for Prep, be it Beck or Gutierrez or even Taubl. Prep at the Wonderland wins it. Prep 2, NDWH 1
1/4 Notre Dame-Fairfield @ New Canaan 3:50, Darien Ice Rink
ND Fairfield took an early lead on West Haven their last time out and may have rested on it. This team has a ton of talent but for whatever reason they don't seem to be clicking. Since an opening night win over NDWH, New Canaan is 1-2 with their lone win coming over Greenwich. They lost by three goals to both Hamden and Darien. I think the Lancers figure it out and take the road win. ND Fairfield 4, New Canaan 3
1/4 Glastonbury @ East Catholic 5:00, Champions Skating Center
A nice D1/D2 CCC-North matchup. Glastonbury has gotten off to a strong start but was romped in the D1 WH Xmas final to NDWH. East Catholic fell to Amity before topping Guilford easily in the D2 WH Xmas consolation. Kyle Thibodeaux and Thomas Usseglio are difference makers in net for both teams.  I'll go with a mild upset for the home team. EC wins. East Catholic 3, Glastonbury 2
1/4 Xavier @ Ridgefield 6:30, Winder Garden Ice Arena
A quality matchup at the Winter Garden on a monster Saturday in CT High School Hockey.  Xavier and Ridgefield have both shown glimpses of brilliance and glimmers of shakiness.  At home I'll take a Ridgefield squad who's looked a bit stronger at this point. Ridgefield 4, Xavier 2
1/4 Hamden @ St. Joseph 8:00, The Rinks at Shelton
This will be Hamden's first game in two weeks after a great start. It'll be interesting to see how they respond to the lay off against a St. Joe's team who's beaten the teams they should've but fell to teams they needed to beat to establish themselves.  Dragons win. Hamden 4, St. Joseph 1
- denotes CTHSHockey will be in attendance

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Some Thoughts and Saturday's Scoreboard

By: Luke Devoe

I'm not going to recap each game because, well, I'd be here for a while.  24 games in the books after yesterday.  I took in Branford and Hand last night at the NIP.  I left with a couple of observations.  Both goalies are stellar talents.  Hand netminder Chase Briggs tended to make the more flashy, dramatic saves but Branford goalie AJ Brink is as dependable as they come.  Branford certainly seems like a team better suited for a long playoff run.  Both teams have top flight talents, Hand with Ben Solin and Dan Braumann and Branford with the Tyler's, Hackett and Criscuolo.  However, Branford's complimentary guys like Tony Pascale, Jason Vitale and Pat Cunningham are much stronger than Hand's secondary players and allow for the Hornets to have a deeper roster capable of going the distance.  Hand is good but Solin and Braumann looked awfully tired last night chasing two goals, seemingly by themselves.  Branford wore down the Tigers with extended in zone stays and a stifling neutral zone presence which thwarted many Hand entries.  Both teams will earn a good seed in the D2 tourney but right now there seems to be some, small separation between the two.

-East Haven moves to 5-0 on the season.  Goalie Tom Delucia has been stellar in net.  The Yellow Jackets haven't really played anyone of any stature but they've positioned themselves well for a strong seed in the D1 tournament.

-Fairfield Prep proved why they are still to be considered very dangerous crushing Franklin (MA) 7-2 yesterday and defeating Mount St. Charles (RI) on their home ice 4-0 yesterday.  They leave the Mount's tournament with a respectable 2-1 record.  

-Tri-Town (3-0) and Housatonic-NW-Wamogo (4-0) are off to blistering starts.  Tri-Town's wins have been a little more impressive with two coming against D2 competition (Wilton and Fermi-Enfield) but, like East Haven, you have to win the games that are put in front of you and that's just what both of theses teams have done.

-West Haven is this week's Hamden.  A squad not many people thought a lot of that went out and impressed.  After a 1-1 opening week where the Westies beat a lowly Greenwich club and were handled easily by Ridgefield things didn't look good around Bennett.  But junior goalie Mike Savino, senior captain Alex Scranton rallied the troops and got the guys to "buy-in."  They trounced an overmatched South Windsor squad 4-0 and scored four unanswered goals to beat a highly regarded Notre Dame-Fairfield team 4-2 yesterday.  The Blue Devils are now (3-1) on the year and won't be an easy out this season.

-BBD is hurting.  The second year D2 squad is now (1-4) after starting the year against five out of state opponents, 3 at home and 2 on the road.  After winning their opener over Byram Hills (NY) 5-2, they've dropped four straight being outscored 28-7 against competition from New York, New Jersey and Maine.  It gets no easier now that they start CT competition with New Milford, North Haven, Daniel Hand and Amity calling.  This rebuilt IceCats roster could be in trouble.

-After an opening night loss, NDWH has won four straight, all in convincing fashion against quality opponents NDF, Simsbury, Xavier and Glastonbury.  The Knights seem to be gelling and captain Matt Dumas just keeps on scoring.  Watch out for them.

-North Haven has quickly emerged as the team to beat at the Division 2 level.  Their only loss was a close one goal defeat to D1's Simsbury.  They've beaten Amity, Branford and Fairfield and have one of the best goalies in the state in junior Andrew Graziano in net.  Captain Vin Fasulo, battling an injury sustained in the Simsbury loss, shrugged it off last week, didn't even consider missing time and was out there competing at a high level.  When asked, Fasulo summed it up simply, "The team is everything."  Talk about some Tribe Pride.

-Cheshire dropped to (1-3) with their heartbreaking 6-4 D2 WH Xmas Tournament final loss to Amity on Friday.  It would be an understatement to say they are the best under .500 team at the D2 level.  This team is dangerously close to looking like last year's team, a team that at the D1 level lost 11 one or two goal games.  The wins will come for the Rams but they have to be able to put games away.  They eagerly await the return of forward Ben Klanica (illness).

-Transfer sophomore defenseman Seamus O'Rourke has been cleared to play and will suit up for Notre Dame-Fairfield in the near future.

Scores via
12:00Wilton0-5East HavenDiLungo Rink
1:00South Windsor0-9St. JosephBennett Rink - West Haven
West Haven D1 Christmas Tournament
1:50Morris Knolls, NJ)10-1Brookfield/Bethel/DanburyDanbury Ice Arena
2:00Fairfield Prep4-0Mt. Saint CharlesAdelard
2:15Trumbull1-6Milford Co-opMilford Ice Pavilion
3:00Notre Dame,Ffld2-4West HavenBennett Rink - West Haven
West Haven D1 Christmas Tournament
3:00Housatonic/Northwestern/Wamogo5-2Eastern CT EaglesConnecticut College
3:20Sheehan5-3St. Bernard/Bacon/NFANorwich Ice Rink
3:30Yarmouth,ME3-4GuilfordEast Haven Ice Rink
3:50Fermi/Enfield/East Granby2-4Tri-TownEnfield Twin Rinks
4:00E.O. Smith/Tolland/Windham3-1WethersfieldNewington Arena
4:00New Canaan1-4DarienDarien Ice Rink
4:45Newington/Berlin/Manchester0-3Bow, NHWhittemore Center, UNH
5:00Ridgefield4-2XavierBennett Rink - West Haven
West Haven D1 Christmas Tournament
5:40Westhill4-0NewtownDanbury Ice Arena
6:00Woodstock Academy2-1Belchertown, MAMullins Center at UM-Amherst
6:00Stamford2-9Suffield/Granby/Windsor LocksEnfield Twin Rinks
6:10Northwest Catholic4-6SimsburyISCC
6:30Branford4-2Daniel HandNorthford Ice Pavilion
7:00Conard2-5Trinity CatholicTerry Connors Rink
7:00Glastonbury1-5Notre Dame,WHBennett Rink - West Haven
West Haven D1 Christmas Tournament
7:45Rocky Hill/RHAM/Middletown1-8Bolton/Coventry/Rockville/Lyman MemorialBolton Ice Palace
8:00Hall/Southington3-4Farmington Valley GeneralsAvon Old Farms
8:30Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe2-5North HavenNorthford Ice Pavilion

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Friday's Recap

By: Luke Devoe

1:00Yarmouth,ME5-0Brookfield/Bethel/DanburyDanbury Ice Arena
1:15East Haven6-0GreenwichDorothy Hamill Ice Rink
1:30East Catholic5-2GuilfordBennett Rink - West Haven
West Haven D2 Christmas Tournament
2:00Fairfield Prep7-2Franklin, MAAdelard
4:00Cheshire4-6AmityBennett Rink - West Haven
West Haven D2 Christmas Tournament
6:30Joel Barlow0-4Lyman Hall/Haddam-KillingworthNorthford Ice Pavilion
8:30New Milford4-1North BranfordNorthford Ice Pavilion

In the consolation of the 2013 D2 West Haven Christmas Tournament, the East Catholic Eagles drubbed the Guilford Indians 5-2 in a game that was shortly in doubt.  Early, on the heels of three straight careless Eagles' minors, Guilford was able to score first on a Brian Donohue blast from the point.  With the exception of a late Charlie Molloy goal mouth score, that was really the only good feelings the Indians could take away from Friday's tilt.  The Eagles soared on the wings on two goals each from junior Jake McCarthy and senior Alex Manner.  Dan Lemieux also scored for East Catholic. Lost in the blowout win was senior Patrick Bishop who went into the half boards awkwardly early and never returned.  He's considered day to day with an upper body injury.

In the second game, the D2 Championship, Amity and Cheshire put on a display for the ages.  The two combined for an electric, up and down game filled with plenty of excitement.  In the end, Amity came out on top 6-4 with speedy senior Adam Shea collecting a hat trick and Zach Shelnitz knocking home two including the game winner.  The game kept going back and forth.  Cheshire lead 2-1 after one on the heels of a blue collar, hard nosed Jon Hauser goal and a point blast from Luke Vendetto.  Amity bounced back immediately with two goals within the first two minutes of the second period from Brett McNeil and Shea, his first, both of the highlight variety.  Cheshire then topped that with two goals of their own within the first two minutes of the third period.  On a pretty Vendetto feed from behind the net Matt Jordan tied the game at three.  Shortly after that, Joe D'Errico followed him up with a tally of his own putting the Rams on top with a ton of game to play.  However, as time wound down and we found ourselves with less than a minute to play, the Rams held on to the same lead.  That was until Shea struck again.  With a bunch of bodies collected in the right circle, Shea uncorked a laser guided snipe from a tough angle, knotting the game at 4 and sending the Spartan faithful into hysterics.  They weren't done yet, breaking out as time ticked down Shea found himself and linemate Zach Shelnitz on a two on one heading in on Cheshire goalie Joey Solla. Shea saucered a pass over the Ram defender's stick where Shelnitz, corralled, and hammered one home top shelf giving Amity a 5-4 lead with 8 seconds to go.  Shea would then add on an empty netter to complete the hat trick. The win boosts Amity to (3-1) on the year but the loss devastatingly drops Cheshire to (1-3).  It should be noted that those three losses came to teams with a combined 8-3 record and the Rams team that skated stride for stride with Amity yesterday, New Milford on opening night and East Catholic in their second game of the year is still a legit title contender.  It may seem like a bold statement but Cheshire will put this together at some point.  But, at least for now, you have to feel for the kids, coaching staff and fans who have had their hearts broken in losses like this far too often these past few years.  Chins up Rams, you played a great game.

Elsewhere, BBD falls to (1-3) on the year with a 5-0 loss to Yarmouth (ME).  The IceCats faced a lofty task of facing five out of state teams to start the year.  They finish this tough part of the schedule today when they host Morris Knolls (NJ).

East Haven continues to roll, improving to (4-0) on the season with a 6-0 rout of Greenwich at Dorthy Hamill yesterday.  The win was the Yellow Jackets first against a D1 team, granted it was a bottom tier Cardinals club but the Easties just keep winning.  Captain Matt Longobardi dropped a hat trick on the Cardinals while goalie Tom Delucia recorded a 23 save shutout in the victory.

Fairfield Prep put it together Friday in a 7-2 win over Franklin High (MA) in a loser's bracket game of the Mount St. Charles Holiday Face-Off.  With the win the Jesuits will go on to face host Mount St. Charles today at 3:00 in the fifth place game.  Matt Wikman collected a hat trick in the victory while captain Dean Lockery added two goals and an assist.  Prep junior Jack Taubl got the win in net stopping 17 of 19 Franklin shots.  Prep improves to (2-2) with the win while Franklin drops to (1-4).

Lyman Hall-Haddam Killingworth took down Joel Barlow 4-0 last night at the NIP behind two Nick Baccaro goals and a 22 save shutout from sophomore Zach O'Toole.  Russell Bennett, a position player started in net for Joel Barlow as both goalie were unable to play.  He did okay for that not being his regular position.  Barlow drops to (1-3) on the year while LHHK moves to (1-2).

New Milford put together a complete game effort and took down previously unbeaten North Branford 4-1 last night at the NIP.  Steven Berry lead the charge finishing with two goals and two assists while Lane McMahon added a goal and two assists in the victory.  The T-Birds fall to (2-1) on the year while New Milford improves to (2-1).

Friday, December 27, 2013

Thursday's Recap

By: Luke Devoe

Scores from Thursday, December 26, 2013 --- scores via
1:00South Windsor0-4West HavenBennett Rink - West Haven
West Haven D1 Christmas Tournament
2:00St. Bernard/Bacon/NFA10-3Norwalk/McMahonSoNo Ice House
2:00Fairfield Prep3-4Bishop HendrickenAdelard
3:00St. Joseph3-7Notre Dame,FfldBennett Rink - West Haven
West Haven D1 Christmas Tournament
4:00Staples/Weston/Shelton0-8Daniel HandNorthford Ice Pavilion
5:00Ridgefield1-2GlastonburyBennett Rink - West Haven
West Haven D1 Christmas Tournament
6:00Branford2-3North HavenNorthford Ice Pavilion
6:30Stamford3-6WesthillTerry Connors Rink
7:00Xavier1-4Notre Dame,WHBennett Rink - West Haven
West Haven D1 Christmas Tournament

Nearly half the state's games yesterday happened at Bennett Rink in West Haven, host of the D1 West Haven Christmas Tournament.  We shall start there.  In the two loser's bracket games early in the day West Haven prevailed 4-0 over a struggling South Windsor squad behind two goals from junior Wyatt Condon and a perfect 22 saves from junior netminder Mike Savino.

In the day's second game, Notre Dame-Fairfield blasted St. Joseph to the tune of 7-3.  The Lancers were led by top guns senior Christian La Croix and junior Jonny Suporn who both potted two goals in the winning effort.  Head coach Steve Hetherman opted to go with his third goalie in as many games as transfer Jesse Burns took the crease for this one stopping 27 of 30 shots.

In semifinal number one, Ridgefield took on Glastonbury.  The Tomahawks played a stellar game clogging up shooting and passing lanes and general just stifled any flow the Tigers tried to generate.  Tomahawk goalie Kyle Thibodeaux was stellar throughout finishing with 40 saves.  While he's only seen action in two of the team's three games, he's there guy and needs to be if they want to build on this early success.  Parsa Entezarian got the Tomahawks on the board in the second and Matt Holdaway got the eventual game winner five minutes into the third.  The Tomahawks advance to play NDWH in the tournaments final.  Ridgefield is a tough luck (1-2).  They fell to Prep in a close one on opening night, beat an overmatched West Haven team and on paper are probably a better team than Glastonbury.  However, on this night they were outworked and outhustled and ran into one of the state's blossoming goaltending talents.

Heading into the second game, I didn't really know what to expect from Xavier.  The roster undertook a major overhaul, some players are still suspended, long time mainstays have moved on and there's a new bench boss.  So when Falcon top gun senior Andrew Meoli scored midway through the first to give Xavier their only lead, I was thinking maybe this club could surprise.  NDWH put those thoughts to rest quickly on the backs of three point nights from senior captain Matt Dumas (2 G, 1 A) and juniors Kyle (3 assists) and Ryan Lynch (1 G, 2 A).  Nearly doubling Xavier's shots and forcing the Falcons into a large number of third period penalties, NDWH cruised to improve to (3-1), their third straight win after a season opening loss to New Canaan.  Lost in what seemed like a lopsided final was a very strong 32 save night from Xavier junior goalie Ben Guidobono.  He will be vital this year if they are to be ultimately successful.  On the other end, in my opinion NDWH sophomore Justin Daddio had his best game of the year allowing only the Meoli first period goal.

In other action, Fairfield Prep fell 4-3 to Bishop Hendricken (RI) in an opening round contest at the Mount St. Charles Holiday Face Off.  The Jesuits took a 3-2 lead midway through the third on a Kenny Kochiss goal, but Hendricken's Jon Finelli answered back quickly to tie ultimately leading up to the heart breaking Jamie Armstrong game winning goal with only 20 seconds left on the clock. Matt Beck stopped 29 in the losing effort while Steven Bayles and Justin Blanchette also scored for Prep.

St. Bernard-NFA-Bacon got their first win of the year in blow out fashion rocking Norwalk-McMahon 10-3 thanks in large part to junior Andrew Gagnon's four goal effort and a five point night from senior Kevin Teskey.

Daniel Hand moved to (3-0) on the year with a rout of their own, topping Staples-Weston-Shelton 8-0 Thursday at the NIP.  Danny Braumann potted four goals in that one while Chase Briggs and Nate McCann combined for the shutout.

Stamford eager to shrug off two lopsided losses to top end D1 and D2 teams got their chance Thursday against D3's Westhill.  The Vikings had other ideas topping Stamford 6-3.  Ryan Silk netted two goals and added two assists as Westhill ran off six unanswered in this comeback win.

In one of the more exciting games of the day, the North Haven Indians continue to announce their presence at the D2 level with a 3-2 win over top ranked Branford.  Getting outshot 52-20, the Indians were certainly opportunistic and made their shots count.  North Haven collected goals from Vin Fasulo, Mike Tantorski and Tyler Luedee.  Junior goalie Andrew Graziano was magnificent stopping 50 shots in the victory.  North Haven improves to (2-1) on the year while Branford drops to (2-1) on the year.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Top Performers (12/18-24)

Top Performer of the Week- Skater
Matt Dumas (Notre Dame-West Haven)
Other guys may have put up better numbers but none of them did it against the quality of  competition Dumas did it against.  Matt posted 4 goals, 3 assists on the week in leading the Knights to wins over Simsbury and ND Fairfield.  Dumas also added two goals in the opener against New Canaan.

Top Performer of the Week- Goalie
Chris Feldman (Hamden) 
Feldman led Hamden to a 2-0 week with impressive wins over FCIAC powers New Canaan and Darien.  Feldman posted 26 saves in a 4-2 win over Darien & 27 saves in a 5-2 victory over New Canaan.

Other Candidates
Tyler Criscuolo (Branford)- 6 goals, 2 assists
Peter Mayer (EO Smith-Tolland-Windham)- 6 goals
Dan Roberts (Newington-Berlin)- 5 goals, 2 assists
Jarrod Florian (Hall-Southington)- 3 goals, 2 assists
Tristan Goodwin (East Haven)- 4 goals, 2 assists
Mike Falanga (East Haven)- 6 assists
Kyle Lynch (NDWH)- 3 goals, 3 assists
Jeremy Routh (Hamden)- 2 goals, 3 assists
Ben Guidobono (Xavier)- 28/29 saves vs. St. Joseph
Ben Solin (Hand)- 6 goals, 5 assists
Dan Braumann (Hand)- 5 goals, 3 assists
Keating Seymour (Amity)- 3 goals, 2 assists
Vin Fasulo (North Haven)- 4 goals, 1 assist
Mike Tantorski (North Haven)- 3 goals, 2 assists
Chase Briggs (Hand)- 21/22 saves vs. New Milford
Mike Colon (Darien)- 21 save SHO vs. Fairfield Prep
Parker Evans (NFI)- 4 goals, 1 assist
Frank Haklits (NFI)- 3 goals 2 assists
Alex Bliesner (Tri-Town) 42 saves in OT win over Wilton

#hattyalerts of the Year (to be updated weekly)
Tyler Criscuolo, (Branford)- two hat tricks this week
Peter Mayer, (EO Smith-Tolland-Windham)- two hat tricks this week, as well
Ben Solin, (Hand)- *double #hattyalert w/ 6 goals
Dan Braumann, (Hand)- 4 goal game
Dan Roberts, (Newington-Berlin)- 4 goal game
Harry Stanton, (New Canaan)- OT winner vs. NDWH
Alex Scranton, (West Haven)- brought WH back from the dead vs. Greenwich
Vin Fasulo, (North Haven)- propelled Indians to a huge opening night win vs. Amity
Nick Sanderson, (Farmington Valley)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Elite Predictions (12/25-12/31)

By: Luke Devoe

For those of you new to CTHSHockey Blog, every week I select intriguing matchups and predict the winner as well as providing a reasoning.  Week one is usually a challenge and that was no different this week going (3-7) on regular picks and (2-2) on WH Xmas D1 Tourney picks.  This is a thin week because of Christmas and New Years and many teams are in tourneys but nonetheless, here are this week's top games and picks!

Elite Predictions: Mark these on the calendar
Last Week: (5-9)  Season: (5-9)
12/26 Fairfield Prep vs. Bishop Hendricken (RI) @ MSC Tourney 12:00 @ Adelard Rink
Prep is coming off their first in state loss since 2/18/12 when they lost to NDWH 2-0.  They are the defending Mount St. Charles Holiday Face-Off champions and open up the tourney with Rhode Island power Bishop Hendricken (3-0-1). I don't think this year's Prep team is anywhere near as good as last year, but I wouldn't want to face them after a loss. Prep wins the opener. Fairfield Prep 4, Hendricken 3

12/26 Branford @ North Haven 6:00 @ Northford Ice Pavilion
North Haven has looked good early this year beating up Amity and narrowly falling to D1's Simsbury. Branford has been the state's best D2 team, starting (2-0) and outscoring opponents 11-2.  North Haven is much better than Fairfield and Stamford but I think the Hornets and Tyler Criscuolo are too hot to handle right now. Branford 5, North Haven 3

12/27 New Milford @ North Branford 8:30 @ Northford Ice Pavilion
I'm very intrigued by this new look T-Birds squad who just doesn't seem to back down. New Milford needs better starts. The Wave started flat against Hand Saturday and by the time Harrison O'Connell scored and the team seemed to wake up, it was too late.  I'm torn on this one but I'll take the hot hand, North Branford wins. North Branford 3, New Milford 1

12/28 GAME OF THE WEEK New Canaan @ Darien 4:00 @ Darien Ice Rink
Both teams posted impressive early season wins over NDWH and Prep, but both fell to a Hamden team not many people expected anything from. Now both these teams sit at 1-1.  This one could come down to the goaltending. Mac Wright was fantastic for the Rams against NDWH but faltered against Hamden. Darien goalie Mike Colon has been outstanding. I'm going to ride the Wave of momentum from the Prep win. Darien wins. Darien 2, New Canaan 1

12/28 Stamford @ Suffield-Granby-Windsor Locks 6:00 @ Enfield Twin Rinks
Not your usual 'Elite Predictions' matchup.  Suffield-Granby-WL comes in 1-1 but played Northwest Catholic tough. They are much improved this year.  Here, they take on a Stamford team who will still play two more games before this one. Stamford ain't too shabby either but 12/23's tilt with East Haven will go a long way in determining who Stamford really is.  I like Suffield-Granby-WL in this battle of two under the radar squads.  Suff-Gran-WL 3, Stamford 1

12/28 Branford @ Daniel Hand 6:30 @ Northford Ice Pavilion
Two Branford predictions in one week.  They must be good.  This is probably my boldest prediction of the week. While I'm not sure the Hand Tigers have enough fire power to hang with Branford, I'm going out on a limb and calling for a Chase Briggs shutdown display.  In an upset, Hand topples the Hornets giving them their first loss. Hand 3, Branford 2

12/31 Xavier @ Cheshire 3:45 @ Wesleyan Ice Arena
Former D1 foes, Xavier will be coming off at least two more quality games in the WH Xmas Tourney, Cheshire will have played a couple of their own in the D2 version.  The Rams are struggling to win close games out of the gate and Xavier may be too much for them in this one. Xavier 4, Cheshire 2

D2 West Haven Holiday Tournament Semifinals (12/23)
5:00 Guilford vs. Cheshire
Cheshire gets their first win over a rebuilding Guilford group but could still end up 1-4 by 2014.
7:00 East Catholic vs. Amity
Great game, Amity started putting things together in their win over NFI. I think the Spartans win this one but I think East Catholic should be favored, if that makes sense.

D1 West Haven Holiday Tournament Semifinals & Consolations (12/26)
1:00 South Windsor vs. West Haven
Westies get some redemption in their own tourney and take down the Bobcats.
3:00 Notre Dame-Fairfield vs. St. Joseph
NDF is too good to have been paired against NDWH. Lancers take it.

5:00 Ridgefield vs. Glastonbury
Ridgefield looked impressive in defeat against Prep and took care of the Westies easily. They do the same to the 'Hawks.
7:00 Notre Dame-West Haven vs. Xavier
NDWH played way more inspired than they did in the opener against New Canaan.  Green Machine certainly helps influence this.  NDWH moves on.

- denotes CTHSHockey will be in attendance

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Standings Review and Some Other Stuff

By: Luke Devoe

Well, the first week of high school hockey is nearly in the books with 10 games to go tomorrow (Monday). The only incontrovertible bit of information I will take from this week of hockey is that anything can really happen this year.  D1 is as much of a crap shoot as D2 was last year.  D2 is still a toss up and while D3 certainly has more of a division of power, there are plenty of teams who can vie for a D3 crown this year.

What I'll post every Sunday will be the current D1, D2 & D3 standings, obviously not taking into account any games that take place Monday or Tuesday, I'm not Marty McFly.  I will take a look at each division as well.  For those curious, the CTHSHockey week usually starts on Wednesday, so predictions, top 10's, players of the week, etc. with be Wednesdays-Tuesdays.  We all caught up?  Good.

Here's D1-
State PointsWin Pct
(40% Needed)
East Haven2-0-0808100.0SCC-1
Northwest Catholic2-0-0808100.0CCC-North
Notre Dame,WH1-1-060650.0SCC-1
Fairfield Prep1-1-060650.0SCC-1
New Canaan1-1-060650.0FCIAC
Notre Dame,Ffld1-1-060650.0SWC-1
West Haven1-1-060650.0SCC-1
St. Joseph1-1-040450.0FCIAC
South Windsor0-2-00000.0CCC-North

Hamden has gotten off to an incredible start with impressive wins over Darien and New Canaan and because New Canaan beat NDWH and NDWH beat ND Fairfield and ND Fairfield beat Glastonbury and Darien beat Fairfield Prep and Fairfield Prep beat Ridgefield and Ridgefield beat West Haven, Hamden is the best team in America, right?  I hate doing that, but that's kind of all we have to go off right now.  Do I think Hamden is the best D1 team in the state right now?  Heck no!  Do I think they're in the top 5, maybe the top 3?  Yeah, I do.  They are getting scoring from all over.  Captain Anthony Rascati has risen to the occasion, freshman Jeremy Routh is a blossoming star and lengthy forward Sam Carignan is providing a settling presence for the Dragons.  Not to be overlooked as well is the great start senior Chris Feldman has gotten off to in net.  With only a small sample size, Hamden has by far the best resume to this point.  Simsbury beat a good North Haven team and a weak South Windsor squad.  The Trojans could be a sleeper this year as I'm a firm believer defense wins championships.  Easties continue to beat the teams that are placed in front of them, even if they are D2 opponents and NWC hasn't played a real D1 game yet.  After that, it's the definition of a clusterpuck.  It's way too early to play contender or pretender, but of the 1-1 or 1-0 in Xavier's case, I think NDWH, NDF, Prep, Ridgefield, Darien, New Canaan and Xavier have staying power.  This is an excellent thing for the sport, though.  I said it from the beginning of exhibition games, the talent pool in the state is down across the board.  This is bringing on parity and uncertainty which sucks for my weekly predictions but is awesome for all those venturing out to the rinks this year.  Prep will rebound from their loss to Darien, a team that from on site reports wasn't all that impressive in an opening night loss to Hamden.  Both ND's play at such a high level which no more evident than yesterday at Bennett.  Both teams have bona fide star power but certain goaltending issues, be it personnel or simply skill.  I still need to see more from Xavier but goalie Ben Guidobono was excellent in his first action of the year, a 3-1 win over a St. Joseph team that had already had game action.  At the bottom end South Windsor looks to be fighting it losing to two mid-tier D1 teams.  West Haven has one of the state's best defensemen in Alex Scranton and solid goaltending in Mike Savino, but where is that offense going to come from?  Finally, lots of unknowns from Greenwich who could've made a small statement if they held on against West Haven on opening night but they floundered and could be battling with South Windsor for the 15 or 16 seed.

Division 2: The Originators of Parity
State PointsWin Pct
(40% Needed)
East Catholic2-0-0808100.0CCC-North
North Branford2-0-0808100.0SCC-2
Daniel Hand2-0-0606100.0SCC-2
North Haven1-1-040450.0SCC-2
New Milford1-1-040450.0SWC-2
Trinity Catholic1-0-0404100.0FCIAC
Bolton/Coventry/Rockville/Lyman Memorial1-0-0404100.0NHC
Suffield/Granby/Windsor Locks1-1-020250.0NHC
Fermi/Enfield/East Granby1-1-020250.0CCC-North
Farmington Valley Generals1-1-020250.0CCC-South
Milford Co-op0-2-00000.0SCC-2
Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe0-2-00000.0FCIAC

If at the beginning of the season you told me that Amity, Milford, Cheshire, Guilford, and Fairfield Co-op would have a combined 1-8 record I would've suggested a reevaluation of your mental state.  But that's where we stand.  For the record, out of those teams, I wouldn't worry about Amity.  They didn't seem ready for their opener loss to North Haven and they should be fine.  Teams like Trinity Catholic and Trumbull have shown growth from last season while usual powers East Catholic, North Branford, Hand, North Haven and preseason #1 Branford have shown why they deserved to be top 10 squads.  I especially like the start for East Catholic, North Branford and Branford.  EC finds ways to win and around these parts they tend to ride under the SCC biased radar.  They are a legitimate title contender with solid goaltending in Thomas Usseglio and bend but don't break defense and a cast of less than jazzy but extremely competent forwards.  North Branford had to deal with the loss of leading scorer and backbone Dylan Podbielski as well as their starting goalie Kyle Saroka and have looked excellent in defensively wearing down quality clubs Milford and Newington-Berlin.  They haven't slowed down from last year and should be considered very dangerous.  Finally, Branford is loaded.  They are the best D2 team going and excel in every facet.  Tyler Criscuolo, six goals through two games, is exploding onto the scene this season which makes all their secondary options that much scarier.  Daniel Hand is an interesting 2-0 team.  Ben Solin and Dan Braumann are great and fun to watch but at some point, secondary scoring is going to have to be found.  Chase Briggs is a difference maker for them, however.  I could go through each team here and with 22 teams at this level inevitably six teams will fall from state consideration.  The only team that really looks like they are going to have too much trouble making up for their losses at this point is Watertown-Pomperaug.  After that, it's wide open and should be fun to watch.

D3- Less parity but a whole lot more confusion.

State PointsWin Pct
(40% Needed)
Eastern CT Eagles1-1-020250.0ECC
E.O. Smith/Tolland/Windham1-1-020250.0CCC-South
Immaculate/New Fairfield1-1-020250.0SWC-2
Lyman Hall/Haddam-Killingworth0-1-00000.0SCC-2
Rocky Hill/RHAM/Middletown0-2-00000.0CCC-South
St. Bernard/Bacon/NFA0-2-00000.0
Joel Barlow0-2-00000.0SWC-2
Woodstock Academy0-1-00000.0

Great starts from upstarts Tri-Town, who looks completely invigorated since dropping down to D3 and Housatonic-Northwestern-Wamogo.  The bottom half of D3 is quite weak unlike the the aforementioned divisions.  I still think Masuk, Newtown and to a lesser extent EO Smith-Tolland-Windham and NFI are the teams to beat at this level.  Masuk lost a game to Newtown that could've gone either way and then went out and laid a whooping on Joel Barlow.  Newtown toppled Masuk in a great game only to tie a low level D2 Wilton squad. Bucks look strong and are a cop-out sleeper at D3 while NFI, if they can rid themselves of in house and on bench squabbling could be very good.  The list of teams vying for the final few playoff spots will be long and they may beat the hell out of each other.  Woodstock is a few years from being competitive, Eastern CT will struggle as will Joel Barlow, Wethersfield, St. Bernard-NFA-Bacon, Lyman Hall-HK, RMR and possibly Norwalk-McMahon although they won their opener. Hall-Southington is a team to watch but looked awful in a 7-1 loss to the Bucks.  Sheehan dropped a dreadful opener to the Eastern CT Eagles but bounced back nicely crushing Shepaug-Litchfield-Nonnewaug.  Like all divisions it's far too early to be definitive on any of this.  This is all solely based on our first week of action.  Time will tell.