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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Saturday's Recap and Some Thoughts

By: Luke Devoe

It was another quality Saturday for CT High School Hockey. Prep and Notre Dame-West Haven battled it out in an epic tilt, four teams emerged with unblemished records, some struggling squads continued their downtrodden ways while some showed glimmers of hope.  Here's a quick snapshot of some of yesterday's action.

- Branford moved to (5-1) on the season with a 4-3 win over Milford Co-op who drops to a disappointing (1-3-1).  The Hornets carried a commanding 3-0 led on goals from Tyler Criscuolo and two from Jason Vitale when Will Vitelli gave the Indians some life, scoring with one second left in the second frame. On a third period Tony Pascale goal, the Hornets were able to hold on. Milford really needed this one not only to help record-wise but also in terms of morale. A comeback win against a dynamite Branford team would've been huge. Instead, they are left with one win in five tries and searching for answers.

NDWH's Wade Conlan stopped 38 shots in a 4-4 tie vs. Prep
- NDWH and Prep met in a classic rivalry showdown at the Wonderland. Ryan Lynch exploded for all four of the Green Knights goals while Kenny Kochiss and Matt Wikman each potted two in the tie. This game had all the makings of another classic Prep/NDWH showdown. NDWH seems to have solidified their goaltending needs. Junior Wade Conlan was stellar stopping 38 in a tying effort.  He is now (3-0-1) in net and showed poise, especially early when Prep came out of the gates strong. On the other end, Matt Beck was equally as strong tossing aside 37. These two teams are still the two most elite teams in the state. No team in the state can match the top lines that coaches Matt Sather and Tim Belcher put on the ice each night. At this point, Prep seems like the deeper team with NDWH relying on the Lynch-Lynch-Dumas line more than Prep seemed to rely on Lockery-Wikman-Kochiss.  This game also pitted two elite freshmen, both with entirely different styles of play. Prep's John Hoey is a flashy forward, able to split defensemen and dazzle on the ice while NDWH's Alec Andreucci can battle as best as anyone in the state. This was on display multiple times yesterday when they underclassmen continually went into the corners wearing down the opposition and showing a grittiness beyond his years. It sounds cliche at this point to say it, but this could be a preview of the D1 final yet again. The state is more wide open this year so it wouldn't surprise me to see someone else sneak in, but the odds say that at least one of these teams will be playing for a state championship.

Shown here against Prep, Hamden's Sam Carignan potted the game winner last night vs. St. Joseph.
- Hamden (3-0) slugged out an ugly one with St. Joseph (2-3) and escaped with an unblemished record. In a game that lacked flow, atmosphere and really any fireworks, the Dragons found a way to win and that's what a good team does. After two periods, the teams were locked at 1 on goals from Jimmy Magson and Nick DiSabella.  Nearly five minutes into the third, the first real highlight reel moment occurred when Hamden freshman Jeremy Routh rushed in to the right circle, sauced a beauty of a pass to a sprawled out senior Anthony Rascati who batted it past Cadet goalie Christian Furce giving Hamden a 2-1 lead. Shortly after an abbreviated two man advantage expired, the Cadets answered back up a man when senior Ryan Corcoran threw a puck on net from the half boards where Colin Powell was able to deflect it past Hamden goalie Chris Feldman. This one had overtime written all over it until Hamden's top line struck again. Captain Rascati fired a slap shot on Furce from the bottom of the left circle. The rebound landed on the stick of Sam Carignan who calmly back handed it into the Cadet net giving Hamden a 3-2 lead which would hold up. By no means was this either teams best effort, especially Hamden. But this is how the Dragons are going to continue to win games this year. They define grinders. They work hard and while they certainly have moments where they look lost, any young team will, they continue to do just enough to stay in the conversation of the best team in the state. I've said if before and I'll say it again. Hamden isn't the best team in the state in terms of personnel. But behind Rascati's leadership, the Dragons are now a team every other squad in the state is circling on their calendars.

- Both Tri-Town and Housatonic-NW-Wamogo dropped their first games of the year. These early season D3 darlings ran into trouble against fellow D3 opponents. Hall-Southington was able to win a defensive battle against Tri-Town ultimately toppling the previously undefeated co-op 2-1 on goals from seniors Cody Backus and Kevin Cop. Housy fell to Sheehan 5-3. Titan forward Mike Cerrotti led the charge with two goals and an assist while goalie Carly Femniak was stellar in net stopping 24. This was expected. I don't think anyone had these two at the top of their D3 rankings at the beginning of the season so no one expected them to run the table. Both will qualify for the D3 tourney and can do some damage but for now they may have been the beneficiaries of a light early season schedule. This is more so the case with Housy as Tri-Town has already notched two wins over D2 squads. Housy is back at it in a winnable game against Shepaug-Litchfield-Nonnewaug next time out while Tri-Town has a daunting task in Newtown.

- East Haven is now 7-0. They landed at this mark by defeating rival West Haven 6-2 on Saturday. Matt Longobardi notched a hat trick, junior Mike Falanga added two goals and an assist and senior Tom Delucia turned aside 26 of 28. This is the Easties second win over a D1 team and their first against a team ranked in the CTHSHockey D1 Top 10. Folks, while I still hold firm in the belief that East Haven does not have the horses to win a D1 state title, I do believe this is the best East Haven team the state has seen in quite some time. Falanga would be elite on any team he played on while Longobardi and senior Tristan Goodwin are the perfect complement to his on ice exploits. Monitor the Easties closely. They will likely be 8-0 heading into a pivotal matchup with NDWH next Saturday. I will be picking the Knights in that game but wouldn't be surprised at all if these Yellow Jackets figure out a way to sneak out the win.

- The ND Fairfield Lancers won a very important game over a quality New Canaan foe. An AJ Lucatino overtime tally was the difference in this one as the Lancers won 3-2. Both teams have shown they can be very good. New Canaan's three losses (Hamden, Darien, NDF) are nothing to laugh at and both teams should be in it at the end. With the win, the Lancers now have some certain momentum to carry into their huge Thursday night game at Webster Bank Arena with Fairfield Prep. They have the pieces to win that game, it's all about how Head Coach Steve Hetherman chooses to use them.

- D2 power East Catholic topped D1's Glastonbury 4-2 yesterday at Champions, a score I accurately predicted. This isn't a knock on the Tomahawks who are likely to hang around the middle of a strong D1 pack. This is more a pat on the back for East Catholic, a team who's only a year removed from losing in the D2 state championship. They have all the pieces, a cast of talented forwards led by Alex Manner who notched a hat trick Saturday, a strong D core and an excellent goalie in Thomas Usseglio. Things don't get any easier for the Eagles, a team who plays the most challenging D2 schedule in the state, with South Windsor, NW Catholic, and Simsbury coming up over the course of their next four games.

- Guilford is a tough team to read. They now sit at a troubling (1-4) but just a few days ago it seemed they started to figure it out with a big win over a quality Yarmouth (ME) team. Well, forget all those good feelings. Yesterday's loss to D3's Stamford, a team who plays a very tough schedule but is prone to giving up a lot of goals, is tough to swallow for the Indians' faithful. We knew this would be a rebuilding year but Guilford could be in trouble with a desperate Milford club coming followed by undefeated East Haven.

- South Windsor notched their first win 1-0 over a tough Northwest Catholic squad. Sophomore goalie Scott Skenyon gave the Bobcats some hope posting a 28 save shutout and a goale from senior Connor Minguy was enough to hold up in this one. NWC will be okay, however.  We knew they would take their licks at the D1 level. Is this a game they should've had? Probably. But I think they'll be okay under experienced coach Melanson.

- In a huge rivalry game BCR showed they belong with their first quality win of the year, toppling hated rival Newington-Berlin 2-1 on a Bruce Smith overtime tally. The Twitter world was abuzz yesterday with a ton of chest puffed out in anticipation of this one. In the end BCR gets the last laugh. The two meet again and it will undoubtedly be a thriller.

- Xavier is probably glad they won't see the Ridgefield Tigers again any time soon. A week after the Tigers beat the Falcons 4-2 in a consolation game of the WH Xmas Tournament, they did it again, beating Xavier 4-0 this time. Patrick Sheehan-Delany stopped all 23 shots he faced while Callan McCormick potted two in the victory to move Ridgefield to (3-2) on the year. The Falcons fall to (2-3), 2-1 when not facing the Ridgefield Tigers.

Trinity Catholic looks to be celebrating a lot this season.
- In arguably, the most important final of the day, Trinity Catholic topped Amity 3-2 to move to (4-0) on the year. The Crusaders just might be for real. No offense to Milford, Conard or Watertown-Pomperaug but this is easily their best win of the year.  Griffin Northrop potted two goals in the victory which dropped the Spartans to (3-2) on the year. TC gets another test tomorrow when they face the struggling Daniel Hand Tigers. This is a team to watch closely but I think we can officially announce that they've arrived on the scene after a win over Amity.

- New Milford (4-1) looks like a revitalized squad after a 2-1 loss to Hand. They drubbed a down and out BBD (1-5) 7-1 yesterday thanks to multi-point games from Steven Berry (2 G, 1 A), Cole Case (3 A), Logan Doud (3 A) and Blaine McMahon (2 G).  Not to be lost in the blow out shuffle was the performance of Nick Capriglione in net. The senior stopped 28 of 29 IceCat shots.

- Newtown improved to (3-1-1) with a 4-0 win of D2's Watertown-Pomperaug (0-4). Senior Jonathan Lovorn potted two goals and assisted on another. He now has five goals through two games since joining the Nighthawks and could easily be approaching top D3 player territory. Senior Patrick McLoughlin stopped all 22 shots he faced.

All scores can always be found at, a proud partner of CT HS Hockey!
1:00Branford4-3Milford Co-opMilford Ice Pavilion
1:00Tri-Town1-2Hall/SouthingtonVeteran's Memorial Rink
1:00Notre Dame,WH4-4Fairfield PrepWonderland Of Ice
1:00East Haven6-2West HavenBennett Rink
Ppd from 1/3/14
3:50Wethersfield0-7Fermi/Enfield/East Granby/StaffordEnfield Twin Rinks
3:50Notre Dame,Ffld3-2New CanaanDarien Ice Rink
5:00Glastonbury2-4East CatholicChampions Skating Center
5:00Guilford2-4StamfordTerry Connors Rink
5:45Northwest Catholic0-1South WindsorSouth Windsor Arena
6:00Bolton/Coventry/Rockville/Lyman Memorial2-1Newington/Berlin/ManchesterNewington Arena
6:00North Haven7-4TrumbullThe Rinks at Shelton
6:00Westhill0-6Suffield/Granby/Windsor LocksEnfield Twin Rinks
6:30Immaculate/New Fairfield6-2Lyman Hall/Haddam-KillingworthNorthford Ice Pavilion
6:30Xavier0-4RidgefieldWinter Garden Ice Arena
6:50Amity2-3Trinity CatholicTerry Connors Rink
7:00Brookfield/Bethel/Danbury1-7New MilfordCanterbury School
7:00Staples/Weston/Shelton8-4St. Bernard/Bacon/NFANorwich Ice Rink
7:30Newtown4-0Watertown/PomperaugTaft-Mays Rink
8:00Hamden3-2St. JosephThe Rinks at Shelton
8:00North Branford3-2Fairfield Warde/LudloweWonderland Of Ice
8:00E.O. Smith/Tolland/Windham4-1Farmington Valley GeneralsAvon Old Farms
8:30Cheshire2-1Daniel HandNorthford Ice Pavilion
8:30Eastern CT Eagles5-6Joel BarlowWonderland Of Ice
8:35Wilton1-3MasukThe Rinks at Shelton

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