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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

@CTHSHockey Division I All State Teams & Awards

Division I Year End Awards
Skater of the Year: Jack Pardue (Darien)
Goalie of the Year: Kyle Thibodeaux (Glastonbury)
Freshman of the Year: Brooks Gammill (New Canaan)
Offensive Defenseman of the Year: Sam Carignan (Hamden)
Defensive Defenseman of the Year: Colin O'Connor (NDWH)
Coach of the Year: Bob Russel (Greenwich)
Twitter Fan Vote Player of the Year: Mike Savino (West Haven)

@CTHSHockey Division I First Team
G Kyle Thibodeaux, Sr. (Glastonbury)
F Jack Pardue, Sr. (Darien)
F Jeremy Routh, So. (Hamden)
F Liam Smith, Sr. (Ridgefield)
D Sam Carignan, Sr. (Hamden)
D Colin O'Connor, Jr. (NDWH)

@CTHSHockey Division I Second Team
G Mike Savino, Sr. (West Haven)
F Alec Andreucci, So. (NDWH)
F David Piekut, Sr. (Xavier)
F Tyler MacLean, Sr. (Glastonbury)
D Kevin Piotrzkowski, Sr. (Greenwich)
D Vinny D'Amore, Sr. (Fairfield Prep)

@CTHSHockey Division I Third Team
G Will Massie, Sr. (Darien)
F Ryan Deering, Sr. (Fairfield Prep)
F Patrick Hompe, Sr. (New Canaan)
F Christian Ugolik, Jr. (Hamden)
D Logan Underwood, Sr. (Glastonbury)
D Nick Tuzinkiewicz, Sr. (Darien)

@CTHSHockey Division I Honorable Mention
Jake Kirby, Jr. (Darien)
Craig Miller, Sr. (Darien)
Sam Knowlton, Jr. (Darien)
Jake McCarthy, Sr. (East Catholic)
Alex Manner, Sr. (East Catholic)
Justin Blanchette, Jr. (Fairfield Prep)
Jack Taubl, Sr. (Fairfield Prep)
Adam Yeager, Jr. (Glastonbury)
Matt Holdaway, Sr. (Glastonbury)
Bryan Archino, Sr. (Greenwich)
Matt Lodato, Sr. (Greenwich)
Kristian Cunningham, Jr. (Greenwich)
Brian Silard, Sr. (Greenwich)
Jake Blackwell, So. (Hamden)
Stephen Richetelli, So. (Hamden)
Eric Perez, Sr. (Hamden)
Max Begoon, Sr. (New Canaan)
Parker Lewis, Sr. (New Canaan)
Ted O'Rourke, Sr. (New Canaan)
Anthony Ceolin, So. (Northwest Catholic)
Mike Camasso, Jr. (Northwest Catholic)
Tucker Alissi, So. (Northwest Catholic)
Connor McCutcheon, Sr. (ND Fairfield)
Jon Suporn, Sr. (ND Fairfield)
Billy Scovill, So. (ND Fairfield)
Ryan Gawricki, Sr. (ND Fairfield)
Tyler Henchcliff, Jr. (ND Fairfield)
Landon Gabriele, Sr. (ND Fairfield)
Seamus O'Rourke, Jr. (ND Fairfield)
Joe Ansaldo, Jr. (NDWH)
Doug Caliendo, Jr. (NDWH)
Brad Alexander, Sr. (Ridgefield)
Jimmy Wilkinson, Jr. (Ridgefield)
Paul Garlick, Sr. (Ridgefield)
Wil Rooney, So. (Simsbury)
Drew Marquis, So. (Simsbury)
Scott Skenyon, Jr. (South Windsor)
Scott Swan, Jr. (South Windsor)
Filippo Petrini, Sr. (St. Joseph)
Adam Usinger, So. (St. Joseph)
Tyler Paine, Jr. (West Haven)
Jeremy Borelli, Jr. (West Haven)
Ben Guidobono, Sr. (Xavier)
Cam Pollack, Jr. (Xavier)
Adam Aresco, Sr. (Xavier)
Hunter Wilcox, Sr. (Xavier)
John Ford, Sr. (Xavier)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

@CTHSHockey Division II End of Year Awards & Teams

Division II Year End Awards
Skater of the Year: Tyler Criscuolo (Branford)
Goalie of the Year: Andrew Graziano (North Haven)
Freshman of the Year: Nate Capriglione (New Milford)
Offensive Defenseman of the Year: Jeff Rider (Daniel Hand)
Defensive Defenseman of the Year: Jameson Steinhardt (New Milford)
Coach of the Year: Nick Boorman (Suffield-Granby-Windsor Locks)
Twitter Fan Vote Player of the Year: Mark Ehnot (Conard)

@CTHSHockey Division II First Team
G Andrew Graziano, Sr. (North Haven)
F Tyler Criscuolo, Sr. (Branford)
F Jake Fuss, Jr. (Fairfield)
F Jake King, Sr. (Suffield-Granby-Windsor Locks)
D Jameson Steinhardt, Sr. (New Milford)
D Jeff Rider, Jr. (Daniel Hand)

@CTHSHockey Division II Second Team
G AJ Brink, Sr. (Branford)
F Luca DiPaola, Jr. (Newington-Berlin)
F Mark Ehnot, Sr. (Conard)
F Alec Martone, Sr. (North Branford)
D Mitch Pitkin, Sr. (Newington-Berlin)
D Zach Weinstein, Sr. (Fairfield)

@CTHSHockey Division II Third Team
G Shane Kertanis, Sr. (Suffield-Granby-Windsor Locks)
F Jordon Fongemie, Sr. (Conard)
F Zach Polo, So. (Conard)
F Cooper Bunton, Sr. (Branford)
D Aaron Lassen, Jr. (Newington-Berlin)
D Jonathan DePascale, Sr. (Milford)

@CTHSHockey Division II Honorable Mention
Kevin Ryan, Sr. (Amity)
Paul Bates, Jr. (BCR)
Zach Withington, So. (Branford)
Jack Murray, Sr. (Branford)
Pat Cunningham, Sr. (Branford)
Aiden Deane, Sr. (Branford)
Ben Klanica, Sr. (Cheshire)
Matt Jordan, Sr. (Cheshire)
Kyle Frederick, Sr. (Cheshire)
PJ Melly, Sr. (Conard)
Zander Khan, So. (Conard)
Grayson Lacroix, Jr. (Conard)
Matt Rice, So. (Daniel Hand)
Luke Brown, Jr. (Daniel Hand)
Paul Gagliardi, Fr. (Daniel Hand)
Pete Capone, So. (East Haven)
Trevor Demilt, Sr. (Fairfield)
Sam Roy, Jr. (Fermi-Enfield)
Ryan Gothers, Sr. (Fermi-Enfield)
Brian Riley, Sr. (Fermi-Enfield)
Matt Votta, Jr. (Fermi-Enfield)
Ryan Brand, Sr. (Guilford)
Jack Petrick, Sr. (Guilford)
Chris Cafiero, Jr. (Guilford)
Brandon Argyros, Jr. (Milford)
Sean Rowland, Sr. (Milford)
Tommy Nisco, Sr. (New Milford)
Logan Doud, Sr. (New Milford)
Alex Fortuna, Jr. (New Milford)
Marco DiPaola, Sr. (Newington-Berlin)
Dante Gugliotti, Sr. (Newington-Berlin)
Adam Burkle, Jr. (North Branford)
Will McEwen, So. (North Branford)
Brian McKee, So. (North Branford)
Matt Chamberlain, Jr. (North Branford)
Tyler Luedee, Sr. (North Haven)
Cam Owens, Sr. (North Haven)
Brendan Looney, So. (Suffield-Granby-Windsor Locks)
Jake Bourdeau, So. (Suffield-Granby-Windsor Locks)
Colin MacDougald, Jr. (Suffield-Granby-Windsor Locks)
Austin Rupp, So. (Suffield-Granby-Windsor Locks)
Griffin Northrop, Sr. (Trinity Catholic)
Brady Jensen, So. (Trumbull)
Sam Watson, Sr. (Trumbull)
Jake Crowe, Sr. (Trumbull)
Carl LaRosa, Sr. (Watertown-Pomperaug)
Brian Manzer, Jr. (Watertown-Pomperaug)
Kyle Jonas, Sr. (Wilton)
Jameson Hill, Sr. (Wilton)
Ned Zawislak, Sr. (Wilton)

Monday, March 23, 2015

@CTHSHockey Division III Year End Awards & Teams

Division III Year End Awards
Skater of the Year: Andrew Loya (Shepaug-Litchfield-Nonnewaug)
Goalie of the Year: Matt Schoen (EO Smith-Tolland)
Freshman of the Year: Sam New (Staples-Weston-Shelton)
Offensive Defenseman of the Year: Connor Bunovsky (Masuk)
Defensive Defenseman of the Year: Sean Benjamin (EO Smith-Tolland)
Coach of the Year: John Santagata (Westhill)
Twitter Fan Vote Player of the Year: Peter Mayer (EO Smith-Tolland)

@CTHSHockey Division III First Team
G Matt Schoen, Sr. (EO Smith-Tolland)
F Andrew Loya, Sr. (Shepaug-Litchfield-Nonnewaug)
F Peter Mayer, Sr. (EO Smith-Tolland)
F Shane Dushay, Sr. (Masuk)
D Connor Bunovksy, Sr. (Masuk)
D Sean Benjamin, Sr. (EO Smith-Tolland)

@CTHSHockey Division III Second Team
G Christian Compolattaro, So. (Westhill)
F Brian Denham, Jr. (Masuk)
F Josh Barnes, Sr. (EO Smith-Tolland)
F Mike Cerrotti, Sr. (Sheehan)
D Peter Masi, Jr. (NFI)
D Zach Rood, Sr. (Stamford)

@CTHSHockey Division III Third Team
G Phil Nicolescu, Sr. (Tri-Town)
F Parker Evans, Sr. (NFI)
F Ryan Black, So. (Woodstock Academy)
F Kyle Converse, So. (Joel Barlow)
D Nick Ganio, Sr. (Shepaug-Litchfield-Nonnewaug)
D Gunner Eriksen, Jr. (Westhill)

@CTHSHockey Division III Honorable Mention
Will Lawrence, Sr. (BBD)
Eric Stoeckle, Sr. (BBD)
Nick Mayer, So. (EO Smith-Tolland)
Tyler Luke, Sr. (Eastern CT Eagles)
Jarod Florian, Jr. (Hall-Southington)
Jackson Maxwell, Sr. (Hall-Southington)
Erich Bender, Sr. (Hall-Southington)
Jason Diamond, Jr. (Housatonic-NW-Wamogo)
James Huften, Sr. (Housatonic-NW-Wamogo)
Finn Bamberry, So. (Housatonic-NW-Wamogo)
Eric Chin, Sr. (Housatonic-NW-Wamogo)
Charlie Berry, Sr. (Joel Barlow)
Billy Berry, So. (Joel Barlow)
Vincent Marsili, Fr. (Joel Barlow)
Justin Blair, Sr. (Lyman Hall-HK-Cog)
Chris Blanchard, So. (Lyman Hall-HK-Cog)
Charlie Christo, Sr. (Masuk)
Elijah Begin, Jr. (Masuk)
Adam Montague, So. (Masuk)
George Andros, Sr. (Masuk)
Christian Benzing, Jr. (NFI)
Andrew Rosenblum, Sr. (NFI)
Marchello Carlucci, Sr. (NFI)
Dominic Cartelli, So. (Newtown)
Sean Ferris, So. (Newtown)
Andrew Gagnon, Sr. (Redhawks)
Tyler Faulkner, Sr. (Redhawks)
Maren Lancaster, Fr. (Redhawks)
Will Haskell, So. (Norwalk-McMahon)
Sal Gozzo, Jr. (Sheehan)
Paul Gozzo, Jr. (Sheehan)
Dylan Beaudoin, Sr. (Sheehan)
Christian Stuart, Sr. (Shepaug-Litchfield-Nonnewaug)
Owen Killian, So. (Stamford)
Sam Cooke, Sr. (Stamford)
Ryan Johnson, Jr. (Staples-Weston-Shelton)
Jesse Greenspun, Jr. (Staples-Weston-Shelton)
Ryan Sherba, So. (Tri-Town)
Ryan Gaidos, Sr. (Tri-Town)
Matt Abt, Sr. (Westhill)
Dan Rotkewicz, Sr. (Westhill)
Nick Rich So. (Westhill)
Anthony Portonova, Sr. (WMR)
Nick Hock, Sr. (WMR)
Nathan Deluca, So. (Woodstock Academy)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Championship Preview

Saturday, March 20, 2015
Ingalls Rink, New Haven
DIVISION III Championship
10:00 a.m. (2) Masuk vs. (1) EO Smith-Tolland

HOW MASUK GOT HERE: defeated (15) Eastern CT Eagles 7-1, defeated (7) Sheehan 6-0, defeated (3) Westhill 4-3 OT
HOW EO SMITH-TOLLAND GOT HERE: defeated (16) Newtown 10-0, defeated (8) Staples 5-0, defeated (12) Shepaug 8-1

X FACTOR: Matchups. The Bucks top line is fun to watch. The Mayers, Pete and Nick and Josh Barnes are capable of scoring from almost anywhere and their entry carrying the puck is tough to top. Masuk boasts some of the top D in the whole state not just the D3 level in players like Connor Bunovsky, Dan D'Angelo and George Andros. If those aforementioned Bucks can produce against Masuk's extremely solid D core, then EO could have their first banner hanging. If Masuk's depth at forward takes over with players like Dushay, Christo, Denham, Montague, Begin, and so on.. they could be the banner hangers.
GOALIE MATCHUP: Senior Christian Furce has seemed to take over the reigns for the Panthers the second half of the year after sitting out his mandatory transfer games. He's posted a 1.80 GAA in his 8 games. The Bucks have leaned on senior goalie Matt Schoen for what seems like forever and he is a pure difference maker and regardless of outcome will go down as a program defining goalie for the Bucks.
THE SCOOP: This is the matchup everyone wanted and most called for. These two didn't meet this regular season but held down the top two spots in the D3 rankings all year. They ooze senior leadership and this one will most definitely come down to the wire. Bucks senior goalie Matt Schoen has been a rock for the Bucks for the last two seasons. The Panthers have relied on transfer senior goalie Christian Furce of late and he has been fantastic. Before that senior Connor Muller saw action in 15 games for the Panthers. Masuk seemed to play a more challenging schedule this year going 4-0 against D3 #3 and #4 seeds Westhill and NFI. They also went a decent 2-2-1 against D2's North Haven, New Milford, Branford, East Haven and Hand but lost a head scratcher to the Redhawks 5-4 in OT to end the regular season. The Bucks were able to beat local D2 talent Newington-Berlin twice but lost two of three against Fermi and lost in overtime against D2 power SGWL. The Bucks have been lighting teams up so far in the tourney, winning all three by a combined 23-1 score. Masuk needed to overcome a last second Westhill goal, which forced overtime, eventually beating the scrappy Vikings 4-3 in OT. I picked Masuk at the beginning of the tournament and that'll be my pick. Their depth at forward is imposing and the near death experience against Westhill could have them a little more battle tested than the Bucks, who've rolled over all their competition. PICK- Masuk 3-2

Saturday, March 20, 2015
Ingalls Rink, New Haven
DIVISION I Championship
2:00 p.m. (2) Darien vs. (1) Greenwich

HOW DARIEN GOT HERE: defeated (15) St. Joseph 7-1, defeated (7) Ridgefield 3-1, defeated (3) Xavier 3-1
HOW GREENWICH GOT HERE: defeated (16) South Windsor 4-1, defeated (9) Fairfield Prep 5-2, defeated (4) Glastonbury 5-4 OT

X FACTOR: Depth. Both teams have plenty of capable scorers and contributors. Whichever team will be able to allow for their top guns to get breathers will have more success in this one.
GOALIE MATCHUP: Bryan Archino and Will Massie are both seniors. They've both had great final years but Massie has certainly gotten more publicity, and rightly deserved. Archino, hidden in the far southwest corner or Connecticut doesn't get much local love or recognition up north simply because people haven't seen him. He's been excellent both times I've seen Greenwich play. These two both do everything needed to be champions.
THE SCOOP: We haven't had an FCIAC state champion at the D1 level since 1998 when Trinity Catholic won the title. Darien was oh so close last year losing to Prep in the final. Greenwich hasn't had an opportunity like this in quite some time. But they have won a state title more recently than the Wave, who go all the way back to 1969 the last time they won. Darien and Greenwich tied 3-3 during the regular season but the Wave were able to crash hard on Archino in the FCIAC Championship, winning 5-3. That game was a perfect microcosm of the Wave this season, five different goal scorers, a solid effort from Massie and the ability to come back when needed. Darien gets contributions from all over but are certainly lead by the on ice exploits of senior Jack Pardue but look for fellow seniors Nic Tuzinkiewicz, Carter Joyce and Craig Miller to get the most out of their last opportunity playing together. There are plenty of talented underclassmen on this roster as well, but this is the seniors time, especially after losing in last year's final. Greenwich counters with a skater who is among the state's best defenseman. Senior Kevin Piotrzkowski's puck moving ability is hard to replicate and his leadership is top notch. Fellow seniors Matt Lodato and Brian Silard have what it takes to alter an outcome as well as the Larson's, Montana and Mackenzie and junior Kristian Cunningham. It would be a fantastic story if Greenwich was to come from relative obscurity to winning a state title and leading the state from nearly tape to tape but, to me, an even more important story if Darien is able win their first title since Richard Nixon was newly in office. I think Darien gets it done. PICK- Darien 4-2

DARIEN STATE CHAMPIONSHIP APPEARANCES: (2014- loss, 1987- loss, 1985- loss, 1984- loss, 1969- win, 1968- loss)
GREENWICH STATE CHAMPIONSHIP APPEARANCES: (2000- loss, 1992- win, 1990- loss)
Saturday, March 20, 2015
Ingalls Rink, New Haven
DIVISION II Championship
6:30 p.m. (4) North Branford vs. (2) SGWL

HOW NORTH BRANFORD GOT HERE: defeated (13) Wilton 6-2, defeated (5) Newington-Berlin 3-0, defeated (1) Conard 4-3 2 OT
HOW SGWL GOT HERE: defeated (15) East Haven 4-2, defeated (7) New Milford 4-3, defeated (3) Branford 5-3

X FACTOR: Alec Martone of North Branford had a fantastic senior campaign notching 50 points and dominating play. His play is always impactful for the T-Birds but was quieter than normal against Conard. Other guys stepped up. He will need to shine and do what he does best in this one against SGWL's talented top six forwards.
GOALIE MATCHUP: A fine Division II goalie battle in this one pits sophomore Will McEwen against senior Shane Kertanis. Kertanis play all but 81 minutes for the Wildcats this season posting 3 shutouts and a 2.00 GAA. McEwen shared a little of the action this year with senior Will Burke and fellow sophomore Tyler Odice but was still able to see action in nearly 75% of the T-Birds games posting a 2.59 GAA and a .901 save percentage as well as posting 3 shutouts.
THE SCOOP: D2 had a little more predictability this year than in year's past. There are no 13 seeds taking down top dogs and with the 1-4 seeds claiming semifinal spots, there wasn't many surprises. However, once we got to the final four, all bets were off. North Branford, behind a double overtime goal from Brian McKee were able to get past top seed Conard 4-3. SGWL, the two seed, eeked by Branford 5-3 on a late empty net goal. The Wildcats jumped out to a 4-0 lead under five minutes into the game and Branford seemed poised to continue punching back until it was even but the co-op stood tall and didn't allow this to happen. Much of the credit should be attributed to senior goalie Shane Kertanis who was fantastic late. In all reality, any of the four semifinalists would've been deserving finalists after great regular seasons and solid post season runs. But here we are, a co-op from the north and a newbie from the SCC making their first championship game appearance. For North Branford coach Ralph Shaw this pinnacle of sports has to feel surreal. After all the T-Birds have only been a .500 team over the last five seasons (49-49-2), reaching one other D2 semifinal but rather irrelevance other than that. We've talked at great length about the talent both of these teams possess. Players like Alec Martone, Adam Burkle and the aforementioned McKee jump off the page for North Branford. SGWL counters with leading scorer Jake King, and a strong cast of supporting characters like Austin Rupp, Brendan Looney, Jake Bourdeau, Austin Adams and the very underrated Colin MacDougald. Will McEwen, the T-Bird netminder, and Kertanis are sure to battle in this one but it may come down to who makes the least mistakes. North Branford played the better game in the semis, consistent from beginning to end. SGWL lived on their early goals and missed Branford opportunities. That said, the SGWL start to the semifinal game was one of the most furious and exciting starts to a hockey game I've ever seen. This one will be close and I think SGWL has more potential game changers on their side but North Branford's team game was on full display against Conard and even though this is a toss up, I'll go with a battle tested North Branford squad. NB 4-3

SGWL STATE CHAMPIONSHIP APPEARANCES: (As Suffield 2000- won D2, 1992- lost D2, 1979 won D2)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Division I Semifinal Preview

Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Ingalls Rink, New Haven
5:30 p.m. (4) Glastonbury vs. (1) Greenwich
HOW GLASTONBURY GOT HERE: defeated (13) NW Catholic 2-1 OT, defeated (5) ND Fairfield 3-2 2OT
HOW GREENWICH GOT HERE: defeated (16) South Windsor 4-1, defeated (9) Fairfield Prep 5-2

THE SCOOP: This one is stained no matter how you look at it. Glastonbury earned their way into this final with a hard fought win over ND Fairfield, a game that either team could've won at any time. But it will forever be looked at, especially on the NDF side as one that should've, could've went the other way. It didn't and while that will never be easy to swallow for Lancer fans it has to be what it is at this point. Referees lose sight of pucks and blow early whistles on a nightly basis, most don't signal, albeit hesitantly, for goals after blowing said whistle but that's what happened. A bad correct call. Anyway, on to this one. Glastonbury wouldn't have even been in that situation had it not been for the stalwartness in net of senior goalie Kyle Thibodeaux. He's elite, proven and two wins away from Glastonbury's first state title at the Division I level. Glastonbury skated right with NDF in the quarters, a Lancers team who on paper seem to have the more potent offense. Senior Tyler MacLean is the one game changer for the Tomahawks but guys like junior Adam Yeager and the very offensive (in a good way) defenseman Logan Underwood will be looked upon to lead as well. Greenwich comes back with one of the best defensemen in the state in senior Kevin Piotrzkowski. Seniors Matt Lodato, Montana and Mackenzie Larson, Brian Silard and junior Kristian Cunningham give the Cardinals plenty of scoring potential. People have slept on Greenwich all year, even with the FCIAC power standing tall as the top seed. This could be attributed to past performance, a soft FCIAC schedule and any other reason people will throw at Greenwich, but I think they've done more than enough to prove they belong. I also think they're favored in this game. Senior goalie Bryan Arching has been a calming influence in net for Greenwich all year and will be vital for Bob Russel's boys. 

LAST SEMIFINAL APPEARANCE: Glastonbury (2012), Greenwich (2002)
GLASTONBURY STATE CHAMPIONSHIP APPEARANCES: (2012- loss, 2009- loss, 2003 D2 win, 1999 D2 win)
GREENWICH STATE CHAMPIONSHIP APPEARANCES: (2000- loss, 1992- win, 1990- loss)

WHO WINS? I don't know. I had NDF coming out of this side of the bracket with a 3-2 win over Glastonbury might I add... Anyway, this is as tough to call as any. Glastonbury does not have the same fire power that Greenwich had but they seem to rise to the occasion time and time again. I've seen Greenwich twice this year and they won both times. I am as firm a believer in Piotrzkowski as any player in the state, but I'm leaning on a game changing goalie over a shift altering defenseman. Tomahawks to the final. PICK- Glastonbury 3, Greenwich 2
Wednesday, March 18, 2014
Ingalls Rink, New Haven
7:30 p.m. (3) Xavier vs. (2) Darien

HOW XAVIER GOT HERE: defeated (14) West Haven 2-1 OT, defeated (6) Hamden 10-3
HOW DARIEN GOT HERE: defeated (15) St. Joseph 7-1, defeated (7) Ridgefield 3-1

THE SCOOP: This for all intensive is being considered by some to be the best game of all semifinals. Xavier is coming off a 10-3 thrashing of Hamden while Darien edged out rival Ridgefield in the quarters. The Falcons haven't lost in 14 games (11-0-3) while Darien hasn't lost in 17 (16-0-1). That's wild. Both of these teams boast deep rosters, two of the deepest in the whole state. This ability to cycle competent lines over and over while many teams rely on their top guys is partially why these two have been so successful. Xavier has a different star step up every night as guys like seniors David Piekut, Hunter Wilcox and Adam Aresco and junior Cam Pollack have all taken the reins more than once. Senior goalie Ben Guidobono and Darien senior goalie Will Massie are two of the best in the state and will be fun to watch in this semifinal. Darien is run very similarly to Xavier in terms of personnel but senior Jack Pardue may be in a class unto himself. Jake Kirby and Craig Miller have been good anchors for Pardue all year but there are many other Wave skaters that deserve accolades. The depth of these two teams and how their respective, talented coaches choose to use them will be a main storyline in this one. Darien lost in last year's final to Fairfield Prep. That experience is huge and could be a deciding factor for them. Xavier hasn't been to a semifinal since 2005 when they were in Division 2. This is big for a team that for years people expected to be better than they ended up being under former coach Scott Gainey. It took a little while, a 3-5 start, but DeConti's boys are believing in him and his system. Darien comes in having already won the FCIAC. This will be a war.

LAST SEMIFINAL APPEARANCES: Xavier (2005-D2), Darien (2014)
DARIEN STATE CHAMPIONSHIP APPEARANCES: (2014- loss, 1987- loss, 1985- loss, 1984- loss, 1969 win, 1968- loss)

WHO WINS: Picked Xavier prior to the tourney so I'll stick with them though I think the winner of this game eventually wins the state title. PICK- Xavier 4, Darien 3

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Division III Semifinal Preview

Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Ingalls Rink, New Haven
5:30 p.m. (12) Shepaug-Litch-Nonn vs. (1) EO Smith-Tolland

HOW SHEPAUG GOT HERE: defeated (5) BBD 4-2, defeated (13) Woodstock Academy 7-5
HOW EO SMITH-TOLLAND GOT HERE: defeated (16) Newtown 10-0, defeated (8) Staples 5-0

THE SCOOP: EO Smith-Tolland has been a wrecking ball so far beating their opponents by a combined 15-0 score through their first two games. They shutout Staples' electric offense for the first time all season thanks to a 34 save shutout effort from senior goalie Matt Schoen, D3's best goalie. The Bucks, along with Masuk, are the seemingly easy picks to make it to the final Saturday morning. But Shepaug is proving they more than deserve to be hanging around as well. Senior Andrew Loya has been unreal for the co-op. Loyal factored in on all 7 goals in Shepaug's 7-5 win over fellow upstart Woodstock Academy. They will need Loya and fellow senior Christian Stuart to light the lamp early and often and try to force the Bucks to run and gun with them as I do not think Shepaug will be able to hang in a low scoring game. This could be a tall task. Beating the Bucks is no easy feat and trying to stop EO's stud forward Pete Mayer, a CTHSHockey D3 Player of the Year Candidate, is darn near impossible. The Bucks beat Shepaug 7-0 back on January 2nd in their only meeting this year. Looking at common opponents won't help with this comparison either as these teams both went undefeated against common opponents (EO 8-0 and Shepaug 6-0).

LAST SEMIFINAL APPEARANCE: EO Smith Tolland (2014), Shepaug (2003)
SHEPAUG STATE CHAMPIONSHIP APPEARANCES: (As Shepaug Valley, 2003 (D2), 1988 (D2)- lost in both finals appearances

WHO WINS? The Bucks are just too loaded and too impenetrable even for a talent like Loya. A continued Cinderella run from Shepaug would be fun, I just can't possibly see it happening. Bucks 5, Shepaug 1
Tuesday, March 17, 2014
Ingalls Rink, New Haven
7:30 p.m. (3) Westhill vs. (2) Masuk

HOW WESTHILL GOT HERE: defeated (14) Hall-Southington 6-0, defeated (11) Tri-Town 3-2 2OT
HOW MASUK GOT HERE: defeated (15) Eastern CT Eagles 7-1, defeated (7) Sheehan 6-0

THE SCOOP: This one should be tight, closely contested and fun to watch. Masuk has been dominant through two games potting 14 goals against the Eagles and Sheehan. Make no mistake, Sheehan isn't a bad team. Masuk beat them in all three meetings by a combined 18-3. They're deep to, possibly the deepest team at the D3 level. They boast a talented D group lead by Connor Bukovsky and have some of the most experienced and gifted forwards at the D3 level in players like Shane Dushay, Charlie Christo and Brian Denham. Your guess is as good as mine with who they go to in net but senior transfer Christian Furce pitched the shutout against Sheehan, though he wasn't really tested. Westhill is an interesting well coached team. They have a very short bench and, like Shepaug, don't dress many skaters. They land in this position after a Gunner Eriksen double OT game winner against Phil Nicolescu and Tri-Town. We know who will be in net for the Vikings and he could be one of the most underrated players in the state. Christian Compolattaro has been fantastic for Westhill this year. If John Santagata's boys are going to pull the upset in this one and beat Masuk, it'll have to be a low scoring game with very little mistakes, something Westhill does well. I'm feeling bold enough to say that if Masuk scores two goals, they win.

LAST SEMIFINAL APPEARANCE: Westhill (2006), Masuk (2014)
WESTHILL STATE CHAMPIONSHIP APPEARANCES: (2001 (D2), 1993 (D2), 1985 (D2), 1979 (D2)- lost in all four finals appearances 

WHO WINS: I picked Masuk to win all of D3 so that is clearly my pick here. This one will be close though. Westhill is a good, disciplined team with many different players who can pick up the slack. They won't score a ton but definitely won't give up much either. Masuk 3, Westhill 1

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Division II Semifinal Preview

Monday, March 16, 2015
Ingalls Rink, New Haven
5:30 p.m. (4) North Branford vs. (1) Conard

HOW NORTH BRANFORD GOT HERE: defeated (13) Wilton 6-2, defeated (5) Newington-Berlin 3-0
HOW CONARD GOT HERE: defeated (16) BCR 9-3, defeated (9) Cheshire 4-2

THE SCOOP: Conard just keeps on trucking. Much maligned by the New Haven County media, myself included, the Chieftains are doing work. For my purposes, I hate picking all top seeds to win, so I had Conard going down early... didn't happen. These guys are good. Jordan Fongemie and Mark Ehnot have taken over the post season. Sophomore Zach Polo can also dominate on any given night. The Chieftains embarrassed an overmatched BCR team on the tourney's opening night and fought back against Cheshire to take down the upset minded Rams 4-2 in the quarters. North Branford counters will equally as potent offense lead by senior Alec Martone. The real story for NB has been the phenomenal play of sophomore net minder Will McEwan. The T-Birds dealt with Wilton rather easily and then shutout Newington-Berlin in the quarters. I had North Branford and Branford in the final before the tourney started, so as you know, I'll stick my original pick, although it pains me to pick against Conard yet again. If someone is going to topple them, North Branford has what it takes, a proven SCC power, this will be a good one. There also isn't much to be learned comparing common opponents in this one with Conard going 4-1 and North Branford going 5-0 against teams they both faced.

LAST SEMIFINAL APPEARANCES: North Branford (2013- D2), Conard (2008- D1)

WHO WINS? Both teams play a challenging schedule in their own right but to me, a SCC schedule will always be tougher than up north. I think Conard may have the more talented front line guys but they don't have McEwan or the depth that NB has. Like I said, I have to make this pick because it's what I picked before the tourney, but I like it. NB is a hard working group capable of greatness. NB 4, Conard 3
Monday, March 16, 2014
Ingalls Rink, New Haven
7:30 p.m. (3) Branford vs. (2) Suffield-Granby-WL

HOW BRANFORD GOT HERE: defeated (14) Hand 4-0, defeated (6) Fairfield 3-2
HOW SGWL GOT HERE: defeated (15) East Haven 4-2, defeated (7) New Milford 4-3

THE SCOOP: Many people, including myself, were throwing around the notion that the winner of the Branford/Fairfield game would eventually be the D2 winner. I stand behind that despite SGWL beating Branford 4-1 just over a month ago. I think both those teams are proven and elite. Branford boasts Tyler Criscuolo, arguably the best player at the D2 level and one of the toughest to play against because of his sand paper mentality. I've spoken recently about the depth and strength of Branford's D core but don't forget guys like Cooper Bunton and Zach Withington, who've both taken games over at different times this year. SGWL counters with a little more depth up front. Players like Jake King, Jake Bourdeau, Colin MacDougald, Brendan Looney and Austin Rupp come to mind. However, they can't match up with the defensive front that Branford brings. This one could come down to two of the best goalies at the D2 level, seniors AJ Brink and Shane Kertanis. This is SGWL's first ever semifinal appearance as their present co-op. Suffield last made the final four in 2003 at the D1 level. This is all new to these kids. Branford last made it this far in 2012, when their current seniors were freshmen. A lot of Ingalls inexperience in this one but a lot of talent as well. This is a can't miss game.

LAST SEMIFINAL APPEARANCES: Branford (2012), SGWL (2003- D1)
SGWL STATE CHAMPIONSHIP APPEARANCES: (As Suffield 2000- won D2, 1992- lost D2, 1979 won D2)

WHO WINS: I picked Branford to win it all and I feel comfortable standing behind that. They find ways to win. This was no more evident than when they were down 2-0 to a good Fairfield team and Criscuolo decided to take over. SGWL is good and I've loved the development of this team over the years. I'm eager to see them as I don't get that chance often and I've always been a big fan of Jake King. If either team wins, it'll be a great story. Branford hasn't won a state title since 1988. SGWL has never won one as a co-op and last won one as Suffield in 2000. But I'll go Hornets. Branford 5, SGWL 3

So. Zach Polo (Conard)- 14 multipoint games this year. Don't sleep on this youngster while focusing on Fongemie and Ehnot.
So. Brian McKee (North Branford)- Also a sophomore, McKee can also be forgotten with Martone's 50 point season. McKee notched 31 points in 22 games this year.
Sr. Aidan Deane (Branford)- Senior defenseman is an anomaly among his fellow D men, most of whom are "defensive defenseman." Deane has potted 7 goals and added 9 assists this year.
Jr. Colin MacDougald (SGWL)- One of the best passers in the tournament. MacDougald is the glue that makes SGWL work. 21 of his 29 points this year have come via the pass.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Quarterfinal Snapshot

Here's a quick look at all 12 quarterfinal matches spanning all three divisions. The first round was exciting and had its fair share of heartbreak and exaltation. Let's see what the the quarters brings!

DIVISION III Quarterfinals- 3/12
(1) EO Smith-Tolland vs. (8) Staples-Weston-Shel 6:00 @ Bennett Rink
This season: Did not meet     Recent History: No recent meeting
Staples has an electric offense lead by freshman Sam New, a 30 goal scorer, and juniors Jesse Greenspun and Ryan Johnson. But the Bucks are loaded. Senior Pete Mayer has been playing at a high level for years while other players like senior Josh Barnes continue to contribute consistently as well. The Bucks have an edge in net with senior Matt Schoen but don't sleep on Staples' freshman goalie Zach Bloom who was very good in their first round win over Barlow, especially late. PICK- Bucks

(12) Shepaug-Litch-Nonn vs. (13) Woodstock Academy 5:15 @ Northford Ice Pavilion
This season- Did not meet     Recent History: First ever meeting
Two underdog stories meet at the NIP tonight. Woodstock is only in their second varsity season while Shepaug has lived in the bottom of high school hockey for a few years now. This is a one of a kind opportunity for both of these teams to potentially punch a ticket to the semis. Shepaug's Andrew Loya has been great all year and has the unique ability to take over games. Woodstock's dynamic duo of Black and Deluca will try their best to neutralize Loya and provide enough of a spark to keep their improbable run going. I didn't have either of these teams getting past this point so I'll go with my original pick to at least make it this far. PICK- Shepaug

(2) Masuk vs. (7) Sheehan 7:00 @ Milford Ice Pavilion
This season- Masuk won 7-2 & 5-1 (SCC/SWC Semis)     Recent History: Masuk has won 8 straight dating back to 2011.
These two met at Milford in the SCC/SWC D3 semis less than two weeks ago. It was ugly. Masuk carried play throughout and never really gave Sheehan a chance to get anything going. Sheehan has enough offensive talent to score against Masuk but you have to get the puck past center ice to be able to do that. Masuk stifled the Titans entry and clogged up the neutral zone. Masuk's talented cast of characters lead by Shane Dushay, Charlie Christo, Connor Bunovsky and more should be able to do enough to be able to head back to the D3 semis. I think this one will be closer than the previous two, however. PICK- Masuk

(3) Westhill vs. (11) Tri-Town 6:30 @ Wonderland of Ice
This season: Did not meet     Recent History: No recent meeting between the two.
Westhill dominated a weak Hall-Southington team in the first round to the tune of a 6-0 win. Tri-Town used a late third period rally and rode a hat trick by senior Ryan Gaidos to beat a good Housatonic-NW-Wamogo team. Both teams have great goaltending in Westhill's sophomore Christian Compolattaro and Tri-Town's senior Phil Nicolescu. I didn't have either of these teams advancing past this point but thanks to Housy losing I'll have to pick a winner here. Westhill plays a near perfect defensive game. I'll stick with that. PICK- Vikings

DIVISION II Quarterfinals- 3/13
(1) Conard vs. (9) Cheshire 6:30 @ Wonderland of Ice
This season: Did not meet     Recent History: Recently Rams and Chieftains are 1-1-1 head to head but haven't met since 2013.
This isn't your usual 1/9 matchup. This will be a very even game. Cheshire looked phenomenal against North Haven in the first round. They looked rested, well prepared and extremely pumped up. Kyle Frederick stood out among the rest as a player who's engine never stopped pumping. Conard comes in after demolishing an overmatched BCR team. Fongemie and Ehnot shined yet again. They will certainly be needed in this one. With North Haven out, I'm really tempted to pick Cheshire in this one. Why not? It's D2... anything can happen. PICK- Cheshire

(4) North Branford vs. (5) Newington-Berlin 5:30 @ Bennett Rink
This season: North Branford won 7-3     Recent History: North Branford is 2-0-1 over the last three but teams are 2-2-1 head to head since 2010.
These teams have met frequently and aside from North Branford's season opening blow out with, their games are usually pretty close. Top line star power is clear in this one with players like the DiPaolas, Gugliotti, Martone and Burkle but depth will be a major issue. Who can provide that bench spark for both these teams that not only eats minutes but can also be productive. I have the T-Birds in my pre-tournament final four so I'll stick with it. PICK- North Branford

(2) SGWL vs. (7) New Milford 7:00 @ Northford Ice Pavilion
This season: Did not meet     Recent History: No recent meeting
SGWL was given quite a battle from SCC's East Haven in the 2/15 game but they came survived and advanced. New Milford looked dreadful in their SCC/SWC D2 Championship loss but took down a solid Fermi-Enfield team in convincing fashion. These teams are pretty even at the top. New Milford's Tommy Nisco is a talented kid and SGWL's Jake King excites every time he's on the ice. SGWL has more horses in their stable though in my opinion. Both Fortuna and Kertanis are quality goaltenders but Kertanis may end up seeing less rubber thus giving SGWL the edge. PICK- SGWL

(3) Branford vs. (6) Fairfield 7:00 @ Milford Ice Pavilion
This season: Branford won 6-2 & Fairfield won 2-1 (OT)     Recent History: Branford has won 7 of 10 head to head.
I love this matchup. Obviously Branford is my pick to win the whole thing but in my opinion Fairfield is the second best team in the tournament. Jake Fuss and Tyler Criscuolo are battling head to head for Player of the Year and both can absolutely take over a game at any time. Fairfield went with Greenhut in net against Milford and he was fantastic. Brink, on Branford's side, has allowed one single goal in his last three games. Much of that can also be attributed to Branford's wealth of D. I picked Branford heading into the tourney and I never waiver from a pick but if any team is to knock them off, it'll be the Mustangs. PICK- Branford

DIVISION I Quarterfinals- 3/14
(1) Greenwich vs. (9) Fairfield Prep NOON @ Webster Bank Arena
This season: Did not meet     Recent History: No recent meeting
Many people think this is Prep's tournament still despite their struggles this year. I picked Greenwich on my bracket so I'll stick with that pick but I don't think it would be earth shattering if Prep was to win. They shut down a good Simsbury team in the first round and are usually as prepared for games as any team in the state. Greenwich is a strong team, maybe not as good as a #1 should be but they're easily one of the top 5 in the state in terms of talent and personnel. It will be this personnel and senior leadership that get it done for Greenwich if they are to win, players like seniors Kevin Piotrzkowski, Matt Lodato and goalie Bryan Archino. PICK- Greenwich

(4) Glastonbury vs. (5) ND Fairfield 1:00 @ Bennett Rink
This season: ND Fairfield won 3-2     Recent History: Glastonbury has won 3 of 5 since 2010.
What a beaut this game is! NDF beat Glastonbury in the regular season but you can throw that out. These two teams are evenly matched but rely on completely different styles to win. Glastonbury wins more defensively, allows very few goals and leans heavily on all-world goalie Kyle Thibodeaux. NDF scores in bunches and usually it comes from a variety of goal scorers. I called for Antoniou and Suporn to have a big first round game. Let's go with McCutcheon and Gawricki in this one. It's like throwing a dart at a board with NDF though, they all have the potential to explode. I picked NDF before the tourney and that won't change. PICK- NDF

(2) Darien vs. (7) Ridgefield 2:00 @ Webster Bank Arena
This season: Ridgefield won 4-1     Recent History: Ridgefield has won 4 of 7 since 2010.
Gotta love when conference rivals meet on the biggest stages. Ridgefield has more than held their own recently against Darien. I picked against the Tigers in the first round mainly because of them losing 4 of 5 to end the regular season and losing to St. Joe's, a team who just got throttled by Darien in the first round. Darien, in my opinion, is the best team in the state so I obviously have them winning this game. However, if any team can knock them down it's Ridgefield, a team that's done well against them recently. PICK- Wave

(3) Xavier vs. (6) Hamden 4:00 @ Bennett Rink
This season: Hamden won 4-3     Recent History: Hamden and Xavier have gone 2-2-1 over their last five head to head meetings.
I don't change picks, I've said that a million times and Xavier is my pick to win D1. I chose them because of their team speed, excellent goaltending from senior Ben Guidobono and beautifully crafted coaching adjustments I've seen this year by DeConti. None of this has changed. A 2-1 OT win over a 14 seed doesn't change that because simply, they ran into Mike Savino, a scary force in net. Hamden posted a humongous win over rival NDWH last night. They dominated and never let the Knights breath. Routh, Ugolik and Blackwell did what they do best. Carignan carried play and, as predicted, Mike DeMatteis shined. They have what it takes to take down Xavier as they did earlier this year. If I was making picks on the fly, based on first round action, I may go with the Dragons but I just can't break from my original choice, the Falcons. PICK- X

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Division I Preview: FCIAC's Turn?

The D1 state tournament kicks off tonight and it resembles more of a D2 tournament of years past in terms of the absolute uncertainty of it all. Greenwich is the #1 but most people have pegged Darien or Xavier the favorites. Glastonbury and NDF have the pieces to make a title work in completely different ways. Tradition SCC powers Hamden, NDWH and Prep all have what it takes to make a run. It’s wide open. Let’s take a look. For my complete D1 Predicted Bracket click here!

Greenwich, the top seed, hosts #16 South Windsor at 5:30 at Dorothy Hamill. The Cards are coming off a tough 5-3 loss to Darien in the FCIAC Championship. South Windsor lost 8 of their final 10 but have a goalie in junior Scott Skenyon that can keep the Bobcats in any game. Their problem lies in that they don’t have much offensive potential. A low scoring game gives them a fighting chance but Greenwich has pieces that could make that nearly impossible. The Cardinals are lead by all everything senior Dman Kevin Piotrzkowski. Greenwich gets contributions from up and down the lineup but seniors Matt Lodato has really stepped up his game of late. Senior goalie Bryan Archino has also been fantastic this season. Every time I wanted to doubt the Cardinals they notched another huge win. They are for real. I’m not sure how far they can go, but it should be further than this game. That is, unless Skenyon has something to say about it.

Prep finds themselves in unfamiliar territory ranked #9 and on the road in the first round. They face #8 Simsbury at the ISCC at 7:10. Prep hasn’t been on the road in the first round of the tourney since 2008. That year they were an 11 seed and won the state title. The last time they were on the road in the first round before that was 2000, a year that as the 13 seed they also won the state title. That is a little frightening for many teams who’ve written them off as having a down year. That said, Simsbury is underrated. Sophomore Drew Marquis is a darn good goalie and if his team gives him some support he should be able to hold off the Jesuit attack. While Prep doesn’t have a David White, completely dominating teams this year they do have a potent group of forwards lead by senior Ryan Deering and junior Justin Blanchette that can put up crooked numbers on any given night. Prep isn’t as strong on the back end as previous years as well but no player in the state puts as much on a slap shot as senior Vinny D’Amore. In no way can anyone write off Prep, nor should anyone assumes they’re going to win because they’re Prep. This will be a close, hotly contested 8/9 game with two teams that should give Greenwich, should they advance, a battle for one of the four semifinal spots.

#4 Glastonbury hosts #13 Northwest Catholic in a fantastic 4/13 matchup at 7:30 at Trinity. Glastonbury’s senior goalie Kyle Thibodeaux could be the best in the state. Senior forward Tyler MacLean is as solid as any forward in the state while senior role players like defenseman Logan Underwood and forward Matt Holdaway are those type of players that end up on state champion hockey teams. Ken Barse’s team is full of team-first kind of players. This team is drastically different from Barse’s group which featured Ethan Holdaway and Drew Mozzer and made a finals run a few years back and I think that’s a good thing. MacLean is a really good player but even he isn’t relied to carry the entire load. NWC is as young as any team in the state and the naïveté that comes with that could be beneficial. I don’t think they realize how good they can be. Junior Mike Camasso is a very underrated netminder and his handful of shutouts this year prove it. The Indians also have a budding star on their hands in the form of sophomore Anthony Ceolin. For my money though, it’s senior Tyler Noll’s time to shine. One of the few seniors on this team, his leadership is needed now more than ever. Do I think NWC will beat Glastonbury? No. Can they? Sure, but it’ll need to be a low scoring, puck possession type of win for them. The Tomahawks are really good and I don’t think they will allow this to happen.

Another excellent 5/12 matchup will take place at the MIP at 7:30 when #5 ND Fairield hosts #12 New Canaan. NDF went 2-2 to round out the regular season after running off five straight season changing wins. The Lancers continue to get contributions from all over the lineup. On any given night a different player can step up and that’s what defines a team. I refuse to name a single player by name on NDF because there are so many competent scorers on this roster. Okay fine, here’s two that I think will take over if NDF is to have an extended tourney stay… senior Jonny Suporn and junior Mike Antoniou. I could’ve substituted any of their forwards in for those two and have plenty of justification for doing so. It’s this reason that I have NDF as a final four participant. New Canaan is a scary good 12 seed though. Liam Mooney has shined this year on many occasions in net. However, the sophomore is still a sophomore and a first year starter so he’s had his bumps in the road. Patrick Hompe has the ability to be a gamechanger for the Rams and his nose for the net will be necessary if they want to pull this upset. It’s hard to even use the term upset when discussing the Rams as I think this one will be very close.

Darien and St. Joe’s never got to play this year due to the Cadets forfeiting the only game the two had on the schedule. They get this chance at 7:00 at the Darien Ice Rink. For my money, Darien is probably the best team in the state right now. Senior Jack Pardue could be the D1 Player of the Year and goalie Will Massie has proven that he could end up Goalie of the Year. Senior Craig Miller and junior Jake Kirby have been the perfect complement to Pardue this year but Darien’s strength goes way beyond their top line prowess. If the FCIAC has a chance at winning their first D1 state title since 1998, this is the team to likely do it. St. Joseph had plenty of turmoil this year. The fight with Trinity Catholic, the injury to freshman goalie Ryan Wilson and the all-too-real fear of not making the tournament. Senior captain Filippo Petrini did an admirable job keeping his boys focused. Now, senior Dylan Batterson mans the crease and sophomore Adam Usinger dazzles. This is a team that paired against any other team in the state I would give a fighting chance. However, Darien is playing too well for me to see anyone beating them this early.

#7 Ridgefield hosts #10 East Catholic in a captivating 7/10 game at the Winter Garden at 7. East Catholic put together a nice little season, their first at the D1 level. Ridgefield put together another solid campaign which is becoming common place each season. The Tigers have a seriously talented team but have lost 4 of 5 coming into play. Senior Liam Smith is fun to watch and can take over a game with ease. This was no more evident than when he notched a hat trick single handedly beating Hamden 3-2 in OT. A really impressive player every time I’ve seen the Tigers play is junior Jimmy Wilkinson, unfortunately for the Tigers, he's out with an upper body injury. Senior goalie Alec Schneider takes up a lot of net and has had some great performances. He’s disappeared in some games as well. His solid play will be crucial to the Tigers’ success. Munson, Manner, McCarthy… East Catholic is another one of those teams that just pours solid players over their boards. There isn’t a single guy that will blow your doors off in terms of talent but there is more than enough talent on this squad to pull the upset, one that I predicted.
WH's Mike Savino

A good old fashioned SCC tilt takes place at 5:00 at Freeman Athletic Center when #3 Xavier hosts #14 West Haven. The Westies beat Xavier 3-1 earlier this year but fell more recently 3-0. Let me make it clear, I picked Xavier to win the whole thing but if WH senior goalie Mike Savino plays the way he’s capable of playing, I’m done. He is the bread and butter that coach Joe Morrell relies on. He’s big, commanding and when he’s on, he’s hard to beat.  Xavier counters with plenty of scoring potential up and down the lineup. Hunter Wilcox, Cam Pollack, David Piekut, Adam Aresco all have that unique ability to take over games. Pair that with the recent unstoppable play of senior goaltender Ben Guidobono and the Falcons may soar in this one. Xavier hasn’t lost since January 10, a span which has seen them go 9-0-3 and allow only 16 goals. That’s 16 goals in 12 games. West Haven isn’t exactly a juggernaut on offense. Junior Tyler Paine is a skilled player with great hands and Jeremy Borelli seems to shine whenever I watch the Westies play, but make no mistake this is a team struggling to score goals (6 goals over last 5 games) and if Xavier gets up early, the Westies could be in trouble.

Hamden's Christian Ugolik
#6 Hamden and #11 Notre Dame-West Haven meet for the third time in four games. NDWH has won two of three this year, most recently beating Hamden 3-2 in the D1 SCC Championship. A week prior to that Hamden spoiled NDWH’s Senior Night beating the Knights 4-2 at Bennett. NDWH broke Hamden’s 8 game unbeaten streak earlier this year winning 4-2 at the Lou. This is the stuff rivalries are made of. There will be plenty of talent on the ice at the Lou. NDWH brings skilled forwards junior Joe Ansaldo, sophomore Alec Andreucci and all world defenseman junior Colin O’Connor. Hamden counters with potential D1 Player of the Year sophomore Jeremy Routh, junior Christian Ugolik and converted defenseman with an offensive edge Sam Carignan. But I want to look at two players who have been excellent of late. Hamden’s senior forward Mike DeMatteis just keeps impressing each time out and is the perfect counterbalance player to Hamden’s top line. NDWH’s junior defenseman Dougie Caliendo has also been equally as impressive each of the last few times I’ve seen the Knights. This game will be fun to watch because of the first six guys mentioned, but will be decided by one of the lesser talked about players, kind of like Matt Plaziak potting two goals in the SCC Championship. Also an intriguing side note going into this one will be NDWH’s goaltender situation. It’s obvious Hamden will go with sophomore Stephen Richetelli who has been more than impressive this year but NDWH Head Coach Tim Belcher showed Hamden Head Coach Billy Verneris both junior Conor Hylton and senior Wade Conlan in net on Friday. My guess would be Conlan, but that’s just a hunch. I said going into the SCC Championship that I would pick the loser of that game in this one, so I’m going with Hamden because, well, I’m a believer in patterns… NDWH, Hamden, NDWH…

BEST GAME: (11) NDWH @ (6) Hamden- This one is relatively easy. Two age old rivals meeting for the third time in under a month. I will say though, that NDF/New Canaan game should be a blast as well.

BIGGEST BLOW OUT POTENTIAL- (15) St. Joseph @ (2) Darien- Darien is filthy, loaded and ready to go fresh off their FCIAC Championship. I would’ve gone SW/Greenwich but I believe in Scott Skenyon keeping that one closer than planned.

BEST PLAYER MATCHUP- Jeremy Routh (Hamden) vs. Alec Andreucci (NDWH)- Played together as kids, will battle against each other on the biggest of stages.

UPSET ALERT- (10) East Catholic @ (7) Ridgefield- I don’t have a ton of justification for this one. Ridgefield has been playing average hockey of late and I think the Eagles make a splash. Somebody will pull an upset, why not them?

D1 FINAL FOUR PICKS- Greenwich, ND Fairfield, Darien, Xavier