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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Wednesday (Opening Night) Recap

What a great way to start the season!  I think it's fair to say that parity will reign supreme this year.  In almost every division, any team seems to be able to compete with any other team at that level.  We saw the Eastern CT Eagles (formerly Fitch-East Lyme-Ledyard) win their first game of the season 3-2 over Sheehan after going winless last year.  NDWH lost their opener in dramatic overtime fashion to New Canaan, Hamden evened the SCC/FCIAC score by toppling Darien at the Lou and Prep avoided a sure upset by eeking out a 3-2 win over Ridgefield.  At the D2 level North Haven pummeled Amity in their first game as division mates, Cheshire did not fair as well in their first game allowing three third period goals to New Milford in a 4-2 loss while Newington-Berlin dropped their opener to North Branford 3-1 late Wednesday at the NIP.

New Canaan's Stanton single handedly took down the Green Knights
Let's start with what I saw.  I hunkered down last night at a chilly Bennett to watch NDWH and New Canaan go at it in a clash of two D1 titans.  I followed this up by hanging around to watch North Haven and Amity go at it in a SCC D2 battle.  In the opener, Notre Dame carried play for large stretches including killing off what seemed like an infinite New Canaan power play in the first.  New Canaan carried a 3-1 lead through the third and all looked lost for the Knights until Joe Ansaldo on a rebound off a Patrick Francis shot got the Knights closer with a rebound goal, one of the few rebounds Ram senior goalie Mac Wright gave up all night, more on him later.  Then, with just about a minute and a half to go, NDWH captain Matt Dumas, after some hard work down low was able to beat Wright to tie it at three.  Finally, just over a minute into the extra session, an errant puck trickled seemingly harmlessly toward NDWH sophomore goalie Justin Daddio.  Daddio left his crease and skated forward in an attempt to beat a racing Harry Stanton to the puck.  Daddio attempted to flick the puck up the ice, out of the zone but Stanton picked it off with his left glove, dropped it and easily disposed of it into the empty NDWH goal, giving him a hat trick and New Canaan a huge opening night W.

Stanton drew a few minors early.  His play will always cause him to draw the ire of the opposition's fan base as well as some officials.  He rebounded well from this, however, and almost seemed invigorated.  He quickly deposited two goals just over a minute apart in the second frame and ultimately ended an electric night with the crafty overtime winner.  On the NDWH offensive end, senior captain Matt Dumas was in fine form and outworked his defenders nearly all night.  The Lynches (Ryan and Kyle) were equally as impressive, especially moving the puck on the PP. The one Green Knight who stood out in my estimation was sophomore defenseman Colin O'Connor.  His adaptability and puck possession skills will certainly help the Knights this season.  Finally, Ram senior goalie Mac Wright was excellent.  NDWH was peppering him up high all night and the first year starter shrugged them all away.  If he can be competent in net, Stanton can find some complementary scoring like he had with Puck Richardson and Luke Amero last year and their defense is as solid as they appeared, the Rams could be in for a good year.  NDWH is still gelling.  The offense is certainly there and with the emergence of O'Connor on D, the only question mark lies in net.  Daddio shined at times but looked overwhelmed at others.  Time will tell with the Green Knights but they better rally soon with those other ND guys coming in Saturday.

In the night cap, an experienced Amity team never really had a chance against what seems to be a bona fide D2 contender in D1 drop down North Haven.  The Indians scored in flurries and even though he ended up allowing four goals, junior net minder Andrew Graziano was strong when he needed to be, quickly closing holes and eliminating chances.  After Amity's Brett McNeil scored an acrobatic wrap around goal late in the first, the Indians took off.  Chris Lion scored with under two minutes to play in the first to knot it up and set up the coming onslaught.  What followed were four second period goals, two each from Cam Owens and Vin Fasulo, which left the Amity Spartans looking confused and shellshocked.  McNeil added his second of the game in the closing seconds of the second period to make it 5-2.  The third saw more of the same with the teams exchanging a pair of goals.  The nail in the coffin was Fasulo's third and the team's seventh with under three to play.

North Haven has really seemed to announce their presence at the D2 level with the beat down of Amity, a team, myself and others have highly regarded coming into this season.  Fasulo stands out the same way Karl Anderson did last year, a dependable leader who could clearly score but this North Haven group just has a bunch of kids who are buying into head coach Tom Roche's team first philosophy.  Amity has huge question marks in net and with the in zone D.  Mosher probably should've head a few that got past him but he was certainly left out to dry on a few others.  Yeah, McNeil and Shea can skate, shoot and score but it was the complete game that was evidently lacking last night.

My predictions were crap last night but the first week usually goes that way.  I could care less.  To see a team like Hamden winning on opening night during a season when, well, things didn't look so hot, is great for the sport.  North Haven having success on opening night and North Branford showing Newington-Berlin a harsh welcome to D2 hockey were all fun to see and make for great story lines.

Hamden took an early lead and never looked back against what should be a good Darien squad.  The emergence of freshman Jeremy Routh is a positive thing to see for Hamden. Routh factored in on three of Hamden's four goals with a goal and two assists.  Hamden certainly has a goalie battle on their hands this year with senior Chris Feldman and junior Logan Cathey but the early nod has to go to Feldman who turned away 22 of 24 Darien shots last night.

Fairfield Prep was given a scare first time out of the gate last night as Ridgefield gave them all they could handle and carried a 2-1 lead into the third period.  Prep used Matt Wikman and Dean Lockery third period goals to propel themselves to victory.  Tigers' goalie Patrick Sheehan-Delany was excellent in net for Ridgefield turning aside 29 shots.

West Haven showed some serious grit and toughness in their 5-3 come from behind win over Greenwich.  West Haven dominated the first period but only came out with a 1-0 lead, may have rested on this a bit and quickly fell behind 3-1 to the inferior Cardinals squad.  The Blue Devils then ran off four straight goals highlighted by a hat trick from senior defenseman Alex Scranton.

In what many would consider an update Trinity Catholic defeated Milford Co-op 4-2.  Griffin Northrop and Eryk Wielgos both highly regarded Crusader skaters both chipped in two goals while TC goalie Kyle Odierno was stellar finishing with 31 saves.  Milford came into this season with a loaded roster and might have overlooked the hardworking TC Crusaders.  I expect the Indians to bounce back from this once and Trinity Catholic to build off of this one.

A true goaltending gem was on display at Trinity last night where ND Fairfield senior goalie Justin Krochko (29 saves) and Glastonbury first year start Kyle Thibodeaux (34 saves) stole the show.  The Lancers came away with the 3-1 win on the back of two third period goals.

Cheshire didn't fair as well as North Haven in their D2 debut blowing a 2-1 third period lead to D2 power New Milford.  The Wave's Steven Berry notched two third period goals and Cole Case added one of his own in the third (he had two in the game) to propel New Milford to a 4-2 win at Canterbury. On a side note, the Rams were dealt a tough blow in having lost junior forward Ben Klanica (illness) for a month.

In a late one, North Branford gave new D2 member Newington-Berlin a harsh welcome beating them 3-1 at the NIP despite being outshot by a large margin.  Thunderbirds Nick Johnson, Brian McKee and Matt Chamberlain scored in this one aiding the North Branford cause.

Branford ousted the reigning D2 champs Fairfield Warde-Ludlowe 5-2 behind a hat trick effort from junior all-everything Tyler Criscuolo.  Branford, CTHSHockey's preseason #1 D2 squad was in charge throughout this D2 tilt at Wonderland.

At the D3 level, the Eastern CT Eagles (formerly Fitch-East Lyme-Ledyard) notched their first win in over a year topping the Sheehan Titans 3-2.  The win was their first since February 17, 2012 when they beat Shepaug-Litchfield-Nonnewaug 5-2.  The Eagles were previously 1-39 over the past two seasons. They are 1-0 this year.  Sheehan had won their previous three meetings against the Eagles by a combined 16-2 score.

#hattyalerts for Wednesday, 12/18
- Harry Stanton (New Canaan) 4-3 OT win over North Haven
- Alex Scranton (West Haven) 5-3 win over Greenwich
- Vin Fasulo (North Haven) 7-4 win over Amity
- Tyler Criscuolo (Branford) 5-2 win over Fairfield
- Nick Sanderson (Farmington Valley) 4-2 win over Wethersfield

Scores from 12/18/13 --- Scoreboard courtesy of

3:50E.O. Smith/Tolland/Windham1-2Suffield/Granby/Windsor LocksEnfield Twin Rinks
4:00New Canaan4-3Notre Dame,WHBennett Rink
5:10Fairfield Prep3-2RidgefieldWinter Garden Ice Arena
5:30Byram Hills, NY2-5Brookfield/Bethel/DanburyDanbury Ice Arena
5:30Simsbury3-1South WindsorSouth Windsor Arena
5:30West Haven5-3GreenwichDorothy Hamill Ice Rink
6:00Trinity Catholic4-2Milford Co-opMilford Ice Pavilion
6:30North Haven7-4AmityBennett Rink
6:30Branford5-2Fairfield Warde/LudloweWonderland Of Ice
7:00Darien2-4HamdenLou Astorino Ice Rink
7:15Immaculate/New Fairfield3-0Shepaug/Litchfield/NonnewaugRumsey Hall Rink
7:30East Haven5-4TrumbullThe Rinks at Shelton
7:30Conard0-5Northwest CatholicISCC
7:30Stamford3-2Watertown/PomperaugTaft-Mays Rink
7:30Rocky Hill/RHAM/Middletown0-5Hall/SouthingtonVeteran's Memorial Rink
7:30Notre Dame,Ffld3-1GlastonburyTrinity College
7:40Housatonic/Northwestern/Wamogo4-1Joel BarlowDanbury Ice Arena
8:00Cheshire2-4New MilfordCanterbury School
8:00Sheehan2-3Eastern CT EaglesConnecticut College
8:00Fermi/Enfield/East Granby3-5East CatholicChampions Skating Center
8:20Farmington Valley Generals4-2WethersfieldNewington Arena
8:30Newington/Berlin/Manchester1-3North BranfordNorthford Ice Pavilion

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