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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mostly Lopsided But Some Intrigue (D1)

(1) Notre Dame-Fairfield got off to a sluggish start but were still able to jump out to a 3-0 lead against (16) St. Joseph. From there, the Lancers cruised to a 7-2 victory. Senior goalie Zak Bouve turned aside 30/32 shots while defenseman Craig Hessenius added two goals and two assists to pace the Lancers. NDF will get (8) East Haven, a matching 7-2 winner over (9) West Haven. In a game that had all the pomp and circumstance of a great rivalry affair, the on ice display paled in comparison to the action in the stands. East Haven jumped out to a 2-0 lead after one period and within three minutes of the second period, the Westies saw themselves facing a 4-0 deficit. It might as well have said 20-0. The Westies played a tough game, constantly ramming with Yellow Jacket skaters, but they simply didn't have the bodies that could score in bunches. Senior Matt Longobardi finished with a six point night (3 G, 3 A), junior Mike Falanga added four assists while seniors Tristan Goodwin and Dylan Butler both added two goals apiece. West Haven goalie Mike Savino ended up turning aside 41 shots and was peppered the entire night. East Haven senior Tom Delucia had 27 saves. NDF and East Haven will meet Saturday in a game that's filled with plenty of drama. First, this is the first quarterfinal appearance for either team in quite a while. The Lancers were last in the round of eight in 2010 when they lost to Hamden. The last time NDF advanced past the quarters was 2008 when they lost in the state championship to Prep. East Haven is making their first quarterfinal appearance since 2008 when they lost to Prep. Another thing to watch for is the return of Zak Bouve. Bouve has been magnificent since wrestling the starting job away from Justin Krochko. Now, he gets a chance to face his former teammates and a "bomb squad" that is seemingly very eager to make his acquaintance. Finally, East Haven has tried for years to move down to D2. Beating #1 ND Fairfield and punching a ticket to their first final four since 2001 when they made it as a #9 seed is probably not the way to do it. However, this could also be considered a swan song of sorts. Longobardi, Goodwin, Butler, Delucia, Delguidice are all gone. Falanga is probably leaving as well. What will the Yellow Jackets have left to compete at the D1 level? For a competitive balance purpose, I can justify them moving down after this season with the depleted roster they would have remaining. This makes it all the more important for them to win now. The only problem is a potent and ready Lancer squad currently stands in their way.

SW was able to upset Ridgefield in OT.    Photo- Scott Mullin
Elsewhere last night, (4) Darien was able to do just enough to get by (13) Greenwich 3-1 in a game that was 2-1 in the waning minutes. But survive and advance has always been just about every tournaments motto. Darien, hobbled without standouts Jack Pardue and Owen Koorbusch, relied on two first period goals from Connor Davis to will themselves past the upset minded Cardinals. Darien will face the winner of the arguably the biggest upset of any division to this point. (12) South Windsor was able to beat (5) Ridgefield 2-1 on the back of a Tyler Dowdy overtime goal nearly seven minutes into the extra frame. Bobcat sophomore goalie Scott Skenyon was excellent stopping 33 of 34 shots. Ridgefield outshot the Bobcats 34-14 in the loss. It will be entirely on Skenyon's shoulders if the Bobcats are able to repeat this feat and improbably make it to the state semi's. It'll be a tall task. I have no word on when the two hobbled Wave members will return but this is a solid team because of their interchangeable pieces. Darien will be favored but stranger things have happened. 

(3) Fairfield Prep used two Ken Kochiss third period goals to run away from (14) Hamden 5-1 last night. Senior Dean Lockery chipped in with a goal and two assists in the winning effort. This one was tight, however, as Hamden gave their rival all they had. Hamden trailed 2-1 mid way through the final frame until Prep landed the hammer down. Hamden junior goalie Logan Cathey was strong, turning aside 27 and keeping Hamden in it through two. It was also nice to see freshman Jake Blackwell score in his first game back from a wrist injury. Prep will move on to face (6) Glastonbury, a 2-1 winner over (11) Xavier. In one of the night's most hotly contested games, the Tomahawks used a late Tyler MacLean goal as the difference maker. Junior Kyle Thibodeaux was up to his usual stellar self, stopping 28 pucks in this one. Glastonbury gets Prep next. This one will be much closer than many would think. Glastonbury faintly remembers the glory of 2012 when they eliminated Prep from the semifinals at Ingalls. They would love to be able to do the same, this time in the quarters. Now, don't get me wrong, I have Prep winning the whole thing but this game certainly causes for matchup problems. Thibodeaux and his rag tag group of skaters do all the small things right while not being overly flashy. If he can be strong and Glastonbury can some how sneak out to an early lead, who knows. Prep was without the services of impressive freshman Jack Hoey who is out for the year and possibly done with his Jesuit career as rumors of him leaving for prep school buzz around. But their top line of Kochiss, Lockery and Matt Wikman is certainly clicking. They will be tough to beat. This one should be entertaining. I would imagine, based on Sather's past, the platoon will continue and Chris Gutierrez will be in net for this one.

(2) Notre Dame-West Haven cruised past (15) Simsbury in a game that wasn't as close as the 3-0 final would indicate. NDWH outshot the Trojans 42-17 with goals coming from the Lynch twins, Kyle with two, Ryan with one. Junior Wade Conlan stopped all 17 Simsbury shots he faced while Allen Maxwell did all he could, stopping 39 Knight chances. They will move on to face (7) New Canaan in arguably the most entertaining quarterfinal matchup. The Rams who beat NDWH twice this regular season cruised by (10) Northwest Catholic 6-2 last night in Darien. In a game where NWC had it tied 2-2 after one period, the Rams kicked the doors in scoring three in the second and another in the third to move on. Harry Stanton, Jack O'Rourke and Peter Reinhardt all tallied two goals in the victory while the Rams limited the Indians to only 11 shots on goal. The Rams had NDWH's number this season beating them narrowly in both meetings. This sets up for a fun quarterfinal. In my "professional" opinion it's hard to see NDWH losing to the same team three times, that's why when I filled out my brackets I had the Knights moving on but if any team can do it, it'd be New Canaan. He wasn't tested last night but I continue to think that Mac Wright is a game changing goalie. The recent play of O'Rourke is also noteworthy. NDWH is healing and hopefully getting all their bodies back in working order for Saturday.

It has been announced that two games will be played at Webster Bank Arena Saturday at 1:00 and 3:00. In the past, the other two landed at Ingalls. The CIAC will release the official times and locations later today so it's pointless to speculate, I just can't see them putting ND Fairfield in Bridgeport when they essentially played two home games there this year.

I went (21-3) on my first round picks. I was only burned on Hand and South Windsor's upsets and my own false belief in Xavier. However, my final fours in each bracket are still in tact. I have Prep, NDWH, Darien and NDF moving on out of this group. My full, completed brackets are among the tabs at the top of the page.

Today, four DIII quarterfinal match ups will take place. I will be tweeting scores up to the minute so please be sure to follow @CTHSHockey. They get underway at 5:30 when (4) EO Smith-Tolland takes on (5) NFI at Trinity. The other three matchups are all slated for 7:30 with (1) Masuk facing (8) Staples-Weston-Shelton at the Wonderland, (2) Newtown taking on (7) Hall-Southington at the NIP and (3) Sheehan facing off with (11) Tri-Town at Trinity.

Finally, the second chance, never before seen jersey challenge is underway. Today's matchup features Guilford and EO Smith-Tolland. Head to CTHSHOCKEY JERSEY CHALLENGE to vote! 

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