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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Upsets Reign In D2 Quarters

Branford, North Haven, we hardly knew ye. East Catholic and Amity took care of business as the higher seeds and the D2 Final Four is set. (1) East Catholic vs. (13) Daniel Hand and (2) Amity vs. (11) Milford Co-op, Monday night at Ingalls.

Branford just couldn't seem to get it going all night, while Milford and goalie John DePalma turned in arguably their most consistent performance of the year. DePalma turned aside 38 of 39 shots he faced while the Indians got scores from four different skaters non of which were scored by vaunted senior Zach White, which is quite noteworthy for Sal Follo's club moving forward. They will need steady contributions from top to bottom. This team has been potentially scary all season but then displayed defensive duds like their 7-5 loss to Suffield late in the season. It will all come down to their dependability in net and on the back end. Milford will take on (2) Amity, a 4-1 winner over (10) New Milford last night in at the MIP. The Spartans were outshot 24-17 in this one, but were able to find holes in Wave goalie Nick Capriglione's game, scoring on 4 of those 17 shots. Amity goalie Brian Mosher was strong, stopping 23 of the 24 shots he faced. Red hot Kevin Ryan paced the Spartans with a goal and two assists. This will be Milford's first semifinal appearance in 12 years. They last reached the semis in 2002 when they lost to Ridgefield in the championship. Amity last reached the state semis in 2010 when they eventually went on to the championship. Amity won the lone meeting of these two back on January 8th, 5-4.

East Catholic took care of business against a good Cheshire squad. They, too, came away with a 4-1 victory in last night's quarters. Cheshire jumped out to an early lead in this one but the Eagles power play was on point and senior Patrick Bishop tallied two goals in the winning effort. Thomas Usseglio finished with 23 saves while Ram goalie Joey Solla did all he could stopping 32 shots. The Eagles will face (13) Daniel Hand, 4-2 upset winners over (5) North Haven. Hand rode a Danny Braumann three point night (1 G, 2 A) and two goals from Phillips Exeter commit Ben Solin. Senior goalie Chase Briggs turned aside 32 of 34 Indian shots. Briggs has what it takes to take the Tigers on his back and allow for a (13) seed to win the whole thing again. But East Catholic won't be an easy out and are still my favorite to win the whole thing. The goaltending matchup in this one is reason enough to come out, Usseglio vs. Briggs, now that's a matchup. East Catholic last reached a semifinal last year, when they eventually fell in the championship to Fairfield Co-op. Hand last reached a state semifinal in 2006 when they eventually won the state title 1-0 over New Canaan. These two did not meet this year.

Today the D1 quarterfinals take place. At 1:00 (3) Fairfield Prep faces (6) Glastonbury at Bennett Rink. At 3:00, (2) NDWH takes on (7) New Canaan at Webster Bank Arena. At 4:00 (4) Darien battles (12) South Windsor in the second game of the day at Bennett. Finally, at 7:00, (1) ND Fairfield takes on (8) East Haven at Ingalls Rink in New Haven.

My predictions have taken a hit but each division's predicted winner still stands. Here's how I'm doing with my predicted semifinals (actual team in parenthesis)-
Masuk vs. NFI  (EO Smith-Tolland)
Newtown vs. Sheehan (Tri-Town)

Newtown over Masuk

East Catholic vs. North Haven (Hand)
Amity vs. Branford (Milford)

East Catholic over Branford

NDF vs. Darien
NDWH vs. Prep

Prep over Darien

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