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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

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