|Bliesner stopped 58 shots for Tri-Town last night.|
Waiting eagerly for the conclusion of this one was the (1) Newtown Nighthawks, a 4-1 winner over (7) Hall-Southington. After skating to a scoreless first, Newtown was able to claim a 1-0 lead heading into the third. Jonathan Lovorn, always Johnny on the spot, potted two quick goals for Newtown in the third, one of which would be the eventual game winner. There weren't a lot of shots (19-15 Newtown) in this blue collar, hard hitting affair. It came down to the Nighthawks simply grinding it out against a competent and confident Hall club. Newtown beat Tri-Town both times they met this season, 3-0 back on 1/8 and 2-1 on 3/2. Lovorn and Hall-Southington's Jarod Florian are both finalists for D3 Skater of the Year.
At the Wonderland, (1) Masuk got a brief scare from (8) Staples-Weston-Shelton. The Panthers only lead the upset minded 8-seed 4-3 mid way through the third frame and the Wreckers were coming, receiving a couple breakaway opportunities. Masuk goalie Connor Muller calmly shut down this bids, however and Masuk added a couple of late goals to move on with a hard fought 6-3 victory. The Panthers got two goals and two assists from sophomore Brian Denham and a goal and three assists from junior Shane Dushay. Wreckers junior Jack Mendillo finished with a three point night, two goals and an assist. Dushay and Mendillo are both finalists for D3 Skater of the Year.
In the day's earliest game, (4) EO Smith-Tolland represented the north well defeating (5) NFI 5-2. After NFI jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, the Bucks composed themselves, responded with a late first period goal and only trailed 2-1 going into the first break. After that, it was all Bucks. Pete Mayer notched a hat trick on the day, his second in as many games while goalie Matt Schoen turned aside 28 shots. EO Smith-Tolland will go on to face Masuk in the other D3 semifinal. The two teams did not meet this season. Both games will be played Tuesday, March 18 at 5:30 and 7:30.
Congratulations to the four schools representing Division III in this year's semifinals. We certainly have some unfamiliar faces which is great for the sport. This will be Newtown's first ever trip to the semis. EO Smith-Tolland last reached a semifinal in 1995 playing as EO Smith HS. Tri-Town last made a semifinal trip in 1994 while Masuk is the only recurring character of late. This will be the Panthers fourth semifinal appearance since 2009. With EO and Tri-Town winning, two of my predicted semifinalists are out, but my DIII final is still in tact. I have Masuk and Newtown advancing, though the Bucks are now making me reevaluate a lot of things.
Tonight, the D2 quarters get underway. At 6:30 (3) Branford faces (11) Milford at Bennett and (1) East Catholic takes on (8) Cheshire at Trinity. In Milford at 7:00, (2) Amity clashes with (10) New Milford and at 7:30 at the NIP (5) North Haven meets (13) Daniel Hand.