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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

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