Shea leads Amity past West Haven
Hat trick gives Spartans 6-2 victory
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN – (Jan. 29, 2011) The Amity hockey team has relied heavily on the line of Joe Bianchi, Zak Dykun and Corey Shea all year long. So it came as no surprise the trio would come up with all the big goals Saturday afternoon against West Haven.
Shea’s goal just 23 seconds after West Haven had cut the Amity lead to one goal early in the second period turned the game around and Amity never looked back. Shea scored the next Amity goal, completing his hat trick, as the Spartans defeated West Haven 6-2 at the Edward L. Bennett Rink.
The line of Shea, Bianchi and Dykun scored all six goals and combined for 14 points. Shea finished with 3 goals and 3 assists, Dykun had 2 goals and 2 assists and Bianchi added a goal and 3 assists.
“That’s been our formula all year,” Amity coach Gary Lindgren said. “There are no secrets. We are going to go to the Shea line as much as we can. We want to mismatch them with the top line of the other team. Today, it worked out for us.
“His (Shea) goal got the momentum back for us. We know West Haven has the ability to come back like they did against Hamden. That goal was huge as it came on the next shift.”
The goal Lindgren is referring to came just 23 seconds after West Haven’s Mike Troiano beat Amity goaltender Alec Mansfield on a 3-on-1 break with Adam Mink and Ryan Hansen. Troiano’s goal, just 2 minutes, 34 seconds into the second period, brought West Haven within 2-1.
Shea, who had scored the first goal of the game in the first period, wasted no time giving Amity its two-goal cushion. Off a scramble in front in which West Haven goaltender J.P. Withington made two initial saves, Shea poked the puck past Withington for a 3-1 Amity lead.
“That was a huge goal,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said. “It was enormous. The difference today was we could not stop their first line. They owned the front of the net.
“J.P. made three great saves but the fourth one goes in. We have to own the rebounds. It was something we did not do. They scored a couple of goals like that.”
Amity took a 4-1 lead just 2:18 later on Shea’s third goal of the game. The senior forward broke down the right wing and fired a shot between the legs of Withington off assists from Dykun and Eric Carrano.
West Haven put some pressure on Mansfield as Kyle Leyerzapf was denied in the slot area. Leyerzapf would come back to get the Westies within two goals with 5:44 left in the middle period on the power-play as his slap shot from the left face-off circle through a screen beat Mansfield to the glove side.
“Today is disappointing,” Morrell said. “Every opportunity you get to play, you don’t want to let slip by. Everyone on our schedule is tough. Every game we play is an opportunity for us we can not let go by.”
Amity put the pressure on early in the third period but Withington came up big, denying Bianchi in front and Riley Hine from the slot 4 minutes later. West Haven then tried to make a comeback.
Hansen was robbed by a great pad save by Mansfield off a perfect pass from Mink with 8:14 remaining. Mansfield also denied Josh Robichaud’s slap shot from the slot then stopped Dave Landino from the slot 27 seconds later.
“He (Mansfield) saw the puck well,” Lindgren said. “West Haven had some good opportunities but Alec was there. He made an outstanding save (off Hansen) in the third period.”
Jeff Norton looks to create traffic against Amity. Photo courtesy of Russ McCreven.
With West Haven putting the pressure on, Amity iced the game with 5:31 remaining. Dykun was alone to the side of the net and after Amity took two swipes at the puck, Dykun beat Withington for a 5-2 lead.
Amity ended the scoring with 2:16 to go. Bianchi joined his two line mates as he beat Withington with assists going to Dykun and Shea.
“This was a huge win for us,” Lindgren said. “We have all the respect in the world for West Haven. They have a great coaching staff and they are one of the hardest working teams in the state.”
Amity came out of the gates flying, with numerous scoring opportunities in the first period. The Spartans’ best chance came when Dykun fed Shea on a 3-on-1 break but Withington made a pad save with 5:38 gone by in the opening period.
Mansfield also came up big in the first period. The Amity goaltender made a pad save on a backhander by Hansen then stopped Landino on a backhander in front with 7:56 remaining.
Shea got Amity going when he scored on an unassisted breakaway with 5:11 to go in the period. Shea then picked up an assist, along with Bianchi, on Dykun’s goal with 38 seconds to go in the first period.
“This is a good way to start the second half,” Shea said. “We wanted to start the second half strong. We still have some games we need to win. We need eight to get in. Every game counts right now.
“Our line definitely has a lot of chemistry. Me and Joe (Bianchi) played last year together. We feel comfortable out there.”
Dykun’s goal proved to be a big one as West Haven was on the power-play before a penalty in the offensive zone negated the man-advantage. Just 21 seconds later, Amity had a 2-0 lead.
“I think they (two first period goals) took a little pressure off us,” Lindgren said. “We wanted to jump out early and get an advantage early. I think it took the pressure off and allowed us to relax.”
Mansfield finished with 29 saves in the victory. Withington made 28 for the Westies.
Late goal by Mink spoils Senior Night for ND
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (Feb. 5, 2011) – After going winless in a span of four games then needing a late rally to defeat Notre Dame-Fairfield, the West Haven hockey team was looking for a spark. Saturday afternoon at the Edward L. Bennett Rink provided the best spark West Haven could find.
Playing cross-town rival Notre Dame on the Green Knights’ Senior Day, the Westies used a late goal by Adam Mink to defeat the Green Knights 3-2. The victory by West Haven allowed the Westies to qualify for the state tournament with a 7-3-2 record and also allowed the Westies to split the regular season series with the Green Knights.
“I thought we showed a lot of pride out there today,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said. “We played with a lot of heart. The last few games we did not have that heart and desire. But, we had it today.
“We have to get in (state tournament). That is our number one goal. People counted us out in the beginning of the year. But, we are twelve games in and we clinched a spot in the tournament.”
Notre Dame, the No. 4 team in the New Haven Register Top 10 poll, fell to 9-4 with the loss.
West Haven’s top line of Mink, Mike Troiano and Ryan Hansen accounted for all three goals as the trio accumulated seven points, with each linemate picking up a goal. All three were involved in the eventual game-winner.
With the Westies in transition, Troiano threw the puck on net where Notre Dame goaltender Greg Harney made the save. Mink came around the net and beat Harney in traffic with 3 minutes, 17 seconds remaining in regulation.
“This game is huge for us especially qualifying for the state tournament against our cross-town rivals,” Mink said after finishing with a goal and an assist. “I do not think he (Harney) saw me out front.
“This shows even in the pressure situations we can play well. We can overcome anything. This is a very determined team.”
After Mink’s goal, it was up to the Westies to preserve the lead. West Haven goaltender J.P. Withington was up to the task in the final minutes, robbing Colby Cretella’s one-timer with a stick save with 2 minutes remaining.
“They are the fourth-ranked team in the state,” Withington said after making 30 saves. “This win is huge for us. We wanted it. We knew we needed one more win to get in the tournament. We are playing for seeding now.”
With the game knotted at 1 after two periods of play, the two teams came out ready to play in the third period. Notre Dame’s Matt Merola could not convert 3:44 into the period before Troiano’s shot sailed over the net with 9:30 remaining.
Troiano, however, atoned for the miss with 7:24 remaining in regulation. Troiano beat Harney from the back-hand on a breakaway with 7:24 to go, giving West Haven a 2-1 lead.
Mike Troiano, seen here against Hamden, and his linemates Adam Mink and Ryan Hansen, were instrumental in victory over Notre Dame. Photo courtesy of Russ McCreven.
Quicker than it took Morrell to tell his team to play safe with the lead, the Westies allowed Brandon Martone to remain alone in front. The Notre Dame senior beat Withington out of a scramble in front just 24 seconds after Troiano’s goal to even the game at 2.
“I thought we did a lot of standing around on both ends,” Notre Dame coach Bill Gerosa said. “J.P. (Withington) is a good goaltender. He saw everything the whole game.
“They (West Haven) qualified for the tournament. They had a purpose out there. They played hard. I am very disappointed. I feel we have a chance to win every game. We are making young mistakes and when you do that, it usually costs you big time.”
After Withington and Harney traded solid saves in the first period, Notre Dame took a 1-0 lead with 6:01 remaining in the opening period. Merola’s hard work in the corner allowed Cretella to come out with the puck.
Cretella came out front and stuffed a shot between the post and Withington’s pad for a 1-0 Notre Dame lead. That lead would be a short one.
After Withington denied Kyle Thibault with a pad save, the Westies got the equalizer 1:45 after Cretella’s goal. Troiano’s pass in front was deflected over Harney by Hansen to even the game at 1.
The second period was all about Withington and Harney. Withington was in perfect position most of the game and forced Notre Dame to take low percentage shots.
Withington denied Merola from the right faceoff circle with 8:30 remaining in the middle period then denied Joe Travaglino on a breakaway 2:14 later. Withington’s best save came with 2:52 remaining in the period as he used his blocker to prevent Cretella’s shot from falling into the goal.
“We have a very simple philosophy,” Morrell said. “We need good goaltending, timely scoring and hard work. We have to do that every game to be successful.”
Harney finished with 21 saves in the loss. Merola, Greg Zullo and Thibault had assists for the Green Knights.
Westies squander third period lead in loss
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (Feb. 15, 2011) - West Haven coach Joe Morrell knows his team will not win many high-scoring affairs. Morrell also knows the Westies must be solid in the defensive zone every game to be successful.
Unfortunately for Morrell and the Westies, a high-scoring affair did not turn in West Haven’s favor as South Windsor scored three times in each of the second and third periods to defeat the Westies 6-4 at the Edward L. Bennett Rink Wednesday evening.
“We did not play well in the defensive zone,” Morrell said after is team squandered a two-goal lead and fell to 7-4-2 on the year. “(Assistant coach) John Ascenzia said at the beginning of the year we are not going to win many shootout games. He was right. We did not play the body well enough tonight.”
Leading 4-3 entering the third period, West Haven, the No. 7 team in the New Haven Register Top 10 poll, looked to put the Bobcats away. That never happened as South Windsor took advantage of a defensive breakdown to tie the game 5 minutes, 28 seconds into the final period.
With South Windsor in on a 3-on-2 break, West Haven goaltender J.P. Withington made the initial save. When the puck trickled down the arm of Withington, no one from West Haven picked up Nathan Waldeisen and Waldeisen poked in the rebound to knot the game at 4.
South Windsor continued to swarm in the West Haven zone and Withington was forced to come up big. With 3:24 remaining in regulation, the Bobcats’ Kyle Benson threw the puck on net from the left corner and the puck went between the arm and chest of Withington for a 5-4 South Windsor lead.
“This was an important game for the playoffs,” Morrell said. “This was a nine point game. We came in and needed the nine points.”
The Westies put the pressure on in the final 2:30 but South Windsor goalie Christian Marchi denied Mike Troiano from the left wing, then made a glove save on a Ryan Hansen shot 15 seconds later. Marchi then came up big as he stopped Jeff Norton in front with 55 seconds remaining as Norton was on as an extra skater.
The Bobcats, the No. 6 team in the New Haven Register Top 10 poll, iced the game with 10 seconds left. Benson, who finished with two goals and two assists, picked up a loose puck and scored into an empty net for the 6-4 final.
“We have to play three periods of hockey,” Morrell said. “We did not play forty-five minutes. We can not give up six goals in two periods.”
West Haven started the game well, taking a 2-0 lead after the first period. After being denied by Marchi throughout the opening period, the Westies finally got on the scoreboard.
Troiano took a perfect pass from Norton and broke in alone on Marchi. Troiano went to the backhand to beat Marchi for a 1-0 lead with 4:40 remaining in the first period.
The Westies increased the lead to 2-0 with 26 seconds remaining in the opening period. Hansen fed Troiano in the slot and Troiano beat Marchi with a wrist shot to the top right corner.
All the momentum the Westies had with a stellar first period disappeared in the opening 20 seconds of the second period. South Windsor’s Joe Bonazelli beat Withington from in front 20 seconds into the middle period to cut West Haven’s lead in half.
The Bobcats then took over. Waldeisen hit the crossbar 1:23 later and Tyler Glassman was stoned by Withington on the doorstep 15 seconds later.
South Windsor got the equalizer with 8:19 remaining as Glassman’s wrist shot from the slot deflected past Withington. The Bobcats kept pouring it on but Withington stopped John Maura on a 2-on-1 break then denied Bonazelli on a breakaway with 6:35 to go in the second period.
“We were up 2-0 and the goal right away hurt us in the second period,” Morrell said. “We were looking for production.”
As Withington kept the Westies in the game, West Haven took a 3-2 lead with 5:30 remaining in the period. Austin Hansen set up Ryan Hansen with a perfect pass and Ryan Hansen beat Marchi between the legs.
Withington denied Glassman on a partial breakaway with 4:16 left in the period but Bonazelli knotted the game at 3 with an odd-angle shot with 1:06 remaining in the period.
West Haven then looked as if it took all the momentum away with 3 seconds to go in the second period. Troiano’s pass to Ryan Hansen was deflected past Marchi for a 4-3 lead.
Troiano and Ryan Hansen led West Haven as each scored twice and added an assist. Kyle Leyerzapf added two assists in the loss.
Bonazelli scored twice for the Bobcats while Glassman and Waldeisen each had a goal and an assist. Marchi made 17 saves in the victory.
Hamden dominates in 7-0 victory
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (Feb. 19, 2011) – The Hamden hockey team remembered quite well what happened the last time the Green Dragons faced West Haven earlier this year. Stifled from beginning to end by West Haven goaltender J.P. Withington and his 50 plus saves, the Green Dragons, No. 3 in the New Haven Register Top 10 Poll, were forced to settle for a tie.
This time Hamden was not going to let Withington get any momentum. Riding an early first period goal and scoring three times in each of the second and third periods, the Green Dragons defeated West Haven 7-0 at the Edward L. Bennett Rink Saturday afternoon.
“Any time you play against this goaltender (Withington), you have to be careful,” Hamden coach Bill Verneris said after his team improved to 10-5-1. “If he gets any kind of momentum, he is a different goaltender. He is an excellent goaltender.”
The Westies, No. 9 in the New Haven Register Top 10 poll, never got going in any aspect of the game as they fell to 8-5-2. The Green Dragons dominated in every aspect of the game from the drop of the puck and took a lead just seconds into the game which they never relinquished.
Austin Hansen battles Hamden's Pat Lynch for a loose puck. Photo courtesy of Russ McCreven.
Pat Lynch took a quick pass from C.J. Carrignan in front of the net and tipped the puck past Withington just 12 seconds into the game. Lynch’s goal, the first of three by the Hamden senior, set the tone for the rest of the game.
“It was just not our day,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said. “They wanted revenge for that 3-3 tie. They beat us everywhere.
“They scored twelve seconds into the game. We were on our heels. We talk about the first shift is so important and they put the puck in the net. I am disappointed with the effort.”
The Green Dragons never stopped as they outshot the Westies 10-3 in the opening period. Withington was left alone on numerous occasions in front and came up big each time.
The West Haven goaltender denied Tim Lee on a wrap-around and a rebound with 4 minutes, 24 seconds remaining in the opening period then made a highlight reel save with 2:53 remaining.
R.J. Ugolik’s shot from the point was deflected in front and stopped by Withington. Lynch followed with the rebound but Withington came up with a pad save to keep the game close after one period.
Hamden may have been having flashbacks of the first meeting of the two teams between periods but those were quickly erased in the second period. Paul Amarone split a pair of West Haven defenders to break in on Withington and beat the West Haven goaltender with a backhand shot for a 2-0 lead just 1:23 into the second period.
“We know we have a good team,” Verneris said after his team won its third straight game after losing three straight. “I have never doubted this team. We are a good team with a lot of veterans with experience. They have won before and they know how to win.”
Tim Lee gave Hamden a 3-0 lead with 6:50 remaining in the period when he went through the West Haven defense and beat Withington between the legs. Lynch then scored his second goal of the game on the power-play with 40 seconds remaining in the second period as he one-timed a pass from Michael Lee into the top corner for a 4-0 lead.
“It was good to get out in front early,” Lynch said after finishing with three goals and an assist. “We have been letting teams stay with us. My line was able to get me the puck and we good off to a good start.
“This was a big win for us especially as the end of the season is coming up. We want to be playing well entering the playoffs and make another run at a state title.”
If West Haven had any thoughts of a comeback, those thoughts were shot down in a 16 second span in the third period. Jim Burt scored both goals in that time frame as he scored an unassisted goal with 7:53 left from a sharp angle then took a pass from Lynch in the slot to beat Withington for a 6-0 lead.
Burt’s second goal ended Withington’s day as he was replaced by Forrest Schell. The only question left was whether Hamden sophomore goaltender Matt Hoff would get a shutout.
Hoff denied Austin Hansen twice within nine seconds with 4 minutes remaining, then forced Ryan Hansen wide and without a shot on a breakaway with 2 minutes remaining. West Haven’s final opportunity came with 1:36 remaining but Mike Troiano hit the post.
“Matt Hoff is a good goaltender,” Verneris. “He is one of the better goalies in the state. He has a bright career in front of him.”
Lynch capped the scoring with 3:04 remaining as he beat Schell from an odd angle. Hamden outshot West Haven 34-14 in the contest.
Westies allow six third period goals in loss to Xavier
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (Mar. 1, 2011) – Heading into the week, the West Haven hockey team would have settled for winning two of its three scheduled games. After a blowout loss to Hamden, last Saturday, the Westies were looking to get on track.
When the Westies, the No. 10 team in the New Haven Register Top 10 poll, won the first two games of the week, anything but a sweep would have been disappointing. For West Haven coach Joe Morrell, it was not the score of the 9-1 loss to Xavier at the Edward L. Bennett Rink which was disappointing, but rather the way it took place.
Breakdowns on the defensive side of the game led to numerous turnovers and wide open chances for the Falcons. Xavier, the No. 6 team in the New Haven Register Top 10 poll, seemed to capitalize on each opportunity, particularly in the third period where the Falcons scored six times, to break open a close game.
“I was disappointed with the effort in the third period,” Morrell said after his team fell to 10-6-2 on the season. “We have two games left. Obviously that is not the way we want to be playing. We have not played well in a while.
“We pride ourselves on defensive zone coverage. We were happy after one. It was something to build on.”
Trailing 3-1 after two periods of play, West Haven’s Ryan Hansen had a golden opportunity to cut the deficit in half just 12 seconds into the third period. Xavier goaltender Austin Essery denied Hansen and the Falcons turned the game around 40 seconds later.
Xavier’s Kurt Johnson scored the second of his three goals when he poked in a loose puck just 52 seconds into the period for a 4-1 lead. The Falcons then put the game away with three goals in a span of 1 minutes, 32 seconds, including twice in 21 seconds.
Andrew Meoli beat West Haven goaltender J.P. Withington 2:35 into the period as he tipped in a point shot of Dan Dupont. Dan Walsh scored 1:11 later from a backhander in the slot, giving Xavier a 6-1 lead and ending Withington’s day after facing 36 shots.
“A lot went wrong in the period,” Morrell said. “We had a hard time making body contact. It seemed like we were standing around.”
The Falcons (12-7) pulled even further away 21 seconds later, giving new goaltender Justin Shepard a rude welcome to the game. Jack Gethings’ second goal of the game came with 10:53 remaining for a 7-1 lead, Johnson completed his hat trick when he scored off a rebound of a Walsh shot with 7:37 to go and Walsh ended the scoring with 3:06 remaining with assists going to Johnson and Charlie Dupont.
“You want to be competitive,” Morrell said. “It is the third time this year we were not competitive. We only took sixteen shots. That has been a problem for a while. We need to take a few more shots.”
Xavier took a 1-0 lead in the first period through heads up play. With 7:13 remaining in the period, Charlie Dupont fed Johnson who took advantage of a screen in front of Withington and beat the Westie goaltender to the glove side.
West Haven had minimal opportunities to score in the opening period but the chances were quality ones. Kyle Leyerzapf’s point shot was tipped wide by Mike Troiano 4:42 into the contest and Hansen was denied in front by Essery.
Troiano had West Haven’s best scoring opportunity when he went end to end but was stopped by Essery’s pad save with 3:50 remaining in the period. Freshman Jason Puleo twice looked to have the equalizer but hit the post with 1:33 remaining and tipped Mark Barretta’s shot wide seconds later.
The Falcons took control of the game in the second period with a pair of goals. The West Haven defense let down Withington, allowing too many open chances in front.
Xavier’s Trevor Buchas found himself alone in front to tip home John Burkinshaw’s point shot with 8:10 remaining in the period. Just 2 minutes later, Gethings skated from the behind the net and stuffed the puck past Withington for a 3-0 lead.
Despite being outshot 14-6 in the period, West Haven again had its chances. Adam Mink was denied on a back hand in front 3:16 into the period and Mink ripped a shot which went off the mask of Essery with 6:25 left in the stanza.
West Haven’s best chance came with 3:25 to go in the second as Troiano fed a wide open Hansen in front on a 2-on-1 break but Hansen fired over the net.
The Westies finally cut into the deficit with 2:33 to go in the middle period. Troiano took a shot which Essery bobbled and fell to the ice. Mink poked in the loose puck, cutting West Haven’s deficit to 3-1 with 15 minutes to play in regulation.
Xavier outshot West Haven 54-16 in the game. Johnson led the Falcons offense with three goals and two assists. Walsh had two goals and an assist, Charlie Dupont finished with three assists and 10 players combined to total 21 points.
Westies hold on to defeat Indians
Finish regular season 11-6-2
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN – For both the West Haven and North Haven hockey teams, Tuesday evening’s contest was important to each. While The Indians needed a win to qualify for the postseason, the Westies also desperately needed a victory after Saturday afternoon’s dismal performance against Xavier.
While something had to give, it was barely enough as the Westies eliminated the Indians from state tournament contention with a 7-5 victory at the Edward L. Bennett Rink. With the loss, North Haven finished the year 7-13, while West Haven improved to 11-6-2.
“They played hard mostly all year long,” North Haven coach Mike Violano said. “But, we could not keep the consistency up. We played some great teams. We did everything but win by a goal. That has been the history this year. We could not shake it.”
After a 9-1 drubbing against Xavier three days earlier, it was important for West Haven to improve its play. Offensively, the Westies did so as the line of Mike Troiano, Ryan Hansen and Adam Mink combined for 10 points.
Hansen led the way with two goals and two assists, Mink had two goals and an assist and Troiano added a goal and two assists.
“This was a big game for us with the playoffs coming up,” Hansen said. “This was our first chance to play a team where if they win, they are in and if they lose, they are out. We played a team playing for their lives.
“It was good to get the win. We could have done some things different and better, but it feels good to get the win.”
West Haven wasted no time getting on the board as Troiano picked up a North Haven turnover at the Indians’ blue line and raced in alone on North Haven freshman goaltender Chris Pullano. Troiano deked and went to the backhand to beat Pullano for a 1-0 lead just 1 minute, 28 seconds into the game.
The Indians picked up the pressure, and after missing several shots wide, tied the game with 8:38 remaining in the opening period. Mike Andreucci broke down the left wing and ripped a shot which rang off the post, hit West Haven goaltender J.P. Withington in the back of the leg, and bounced in the net to tie the game.
Hansen put West Haven ahead for good 1:48 later. Troiano’s shot was stopped by Pullano but Hansen banged in the rebound for a 2-1 lead.
Just 2:38 later, the Westies took a 3-1 lead when Hansen fed Mink in front and the junior beat Pullano between the legs with 4:12 remaining in the period.
“We talked before and after the game that hey had to be the ones,” Morrell said of his top line. “It is not a secret. They had to work hard with the puck and put the puck in the net.”
North Haven responded with 1:22 remaining in the period, cutting the deficit in half. Tyler Benson picked up a loose puck in front and beat Withington to send North Haven to the intermission trailing 3-2.
The next goal would be important in determining the outcome of the game. Unfortunately for the Indians, that goal was a fluke one which eluded Pullano.
Just 1:08 into the second period, Mark Barretta chipped a shot which went off the North Haven defense, over Pullano’s left shoulder into the net for a 4-2 West Haven lead. The Indians answered 27 seconds later when Benson scored his second of the game.
“We are not seeing the puck well,” Morrell said of his team’s defensive play. “We are not feeling the puck on the stick. We are running around a bit. We are making some mental mistakes.”
North Haven’s season came down to the final 15 minutes. Needing a solid performance, the Indians watched as Jim Morrissey’s shot floated in from the slot just 1:15 into the final period for a 5-3 West Haven lead.
The Indians came right back 1:35 later. Benson’s second goal of the game off assists from Richie Mauri and Nash Garceau had the Indians within 5-4.
The Indians then pressured West Haven and looked as if they had the equalizer. After West Haven’s Dave Landino hit the crossbar, North Haven’s Benson broke in on Withington. Benson deked Withington, but his shot rang off the post, keeping the lead in West Haven’s favor.
“They got a goal and we came back,” Violano said. “We missed on a breakaway and he (Withington) made a couple of nice saves. It’s the way the season has been.”
Hansen then helped West Haven ice the game. The senior circled behind the net and beat Pullano as he came in front with 3:34 remaining for a 6-4 West Haven lead.
“Our line has been playing well all year,” Hansen said. “We knew coming into the season the team needed us every game. We had a lot of new kids and needed to lead by example.”
Mink scored off a face off with 2:37 left in regulation to end any hopes of an Indians comeback.
“We played in the SCC against some great teams,” Violano said. “They are some of the best in the state.”
J.P. Withingtom makes a save in season-ending loss to Hamden in the CIAC state tournament. Photo courtesy of New Haven Register.
Dean Alling and Jim Burt battle for loose puck in CIAC state tournament. Photo courtesy of New Haven Register.
J.P. Withington denied C.J. Carignan in the CIAC state tournament. Photo courtesy of New Haven Register.
Mike Troiano scores against Notre Dame February 5, 2010. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Fit to be Tied
Westies squander two third period leads in opener
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (Dec. 15, 2010) – West Haven hockey coach Joe Morrell knew the start of this season may see some growing pains. Graduating the first two lines on offense and a bulk of the defense from a team which dominated the regular season a year ago, Morrell knew his team would have to work hard in every contest to be victorious.
While the Westies worked hard in the season opener against Greenwich Wednesday evening, the inexperience came to light when Greenwich scored twice in the third period of a 2-2 tie at the Edward L. Bennett Rink in the season opener for both teams. West Haven held leads of 1-0 and 2-1 in the third but could not hold on.
“We are treating this as a loss for sure,” Morrell said. “We had two leads. We had a lead with five or six minutes to go. We have to win this game.”
Leading 1-0 entering the third period, West Haven’s fortunes turned in the first minute. After Adam Mink’s perfect pass to Mike Troiano resulted in a pad save by Greenwich’s Ricky Piper, Greenwich came down the ice and tied the game.
Woody Waesche’s point shot was deflected in front by Alex Liebers. West Haven’s J.P. Withington was moving to his left when Liebers deflected the puck to his right just 35 seconds into the third period.
The Cardinals took the momentum from West Haven and had two golden opportunities to take the lead. Paul Macken deflected a shot off the post and Liebers shot wide of the net despite being all alone just 3 minutes, 45 seconds into the final period.
J.P. Withington, seen here against North Haven, made some spectacular saves in season opening tie against Greenwich. Photo courtesy of Russ McCreven.
Liebers was called for tripping with 8:56 remaining, giving West Haven its third power play of the game. Having already capitalized on its first opportunity when Troiano scored off a perfect pass from Mink just 3:17 into the game, the Westies were looking for the go-ahead goal.
West Haven needed just 1:15 to take a 2-1 lead. Mink took a pass from Kyle Leyerzapf and beat Piper to the short side for what looked to be the decisive goal.
“I thought we played well on the power play,” Morrell said. “We scored two power play goals and we had opportunities on the third one as well.”
West Haven’s lead lasted just two minutes. Off a flurry in front in which Withington denied shots by Liebers and a rebound by Eric Macken, the Westie defense did not help Withington. Ryan Corrigan jumped into the play all alone and deposited the loose puck past Withington with 5:51 remaining to knot the game at 2.
That is the way the game would end as both goalies came up big in the third period and overtime. Piper denied Ryan Hansen in front with 2:35 to go in the third then stopped Hansen again with 35 seconds remaining.
The Westies’ best scoring opportunities of the overtime period came in the first three minutes. Piper denied Mink with a pad save 15 seconds into the overtime and stopped Dave Landino in front 2:20 in.
“We are going to have to work hard every game,” Morrell said. “Our mental toughness cost us the game. It is a learning process. We will learn as we go.
“We are supposed to win this game. We were up 2-1 late and there was a little panic. We have five defensemen and four never played varsity.”
West Haven played a solid first period, capitalizing on the power play. Mink faked a slap shot and passed to a wide open Troiano who beat Piper to the blocker side. West Haven’s defense held Greenwich to three shots in the opening 15 minutes.
Greenwich dictated play at the start of the second period. Withington denied Eric Macken with a glove save 2:40 in and made an arm save off Macken who was alone in front.
“J.P. is J.P.,” Morrell said. “He will keep us in all the games. He will win games for us and give us opportunities to win. He did that tonight.”
Piper was just as good, stopping Hansen on a backhand with 5 minutes remaining and Troiano’s slap shot from the slot with 3:45 to go in the middle period.
Withington made 18 saves in the opener. Piper made 26 saves for Greenwich.
Westies use late goal to defeat Hand
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (Dec. 29, 2010) – Throughout the course of a season, there are games you dominate and games you feel fortunate to win. The latter fits the West Haven hockey team after Thursday evening’s performance against Hand-Madison.
Looking lethargic throughout the vacation week game, the Westies used a late power-play goal in the third period to avoid an inexcusable loss as West Haven defeated Hand 2-1 at the Edward L. Bennett Rink. The game was the second straight contest the Westies were outplayed but pulled out the victory.
“I feel this is two games in a row now we have been outplayed,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said. “We have been fortunate enough to win. We were lazy to the puck. Everyone was looking for other players to do the job.”
After scoring the equalizer early in the second period, the Westies needed a power-play goal with 5 minutes, 51 seconds remaining in the third period to improve to 3-0-1.
Dave Landino battles for a loose puck against Hand. Photo courtesy of New Haven Register.
The goal with three seconds left in the man-advantage was a result of perfect passing. Defenseman Kyle Leyerzapf painted a perfect pass on the stick of Dave Landino in front. Landino’s pass across the crease found Ryan Hansen staring at a wide open net as Hansen easily beat Hand goaltender Dan Tagliarini for the eventual winner.
“The power-play goal at the end was huge,” Morrell said. “That is exactly the way we practice it. We needed that goal.”
All that was left for West Haven to tack on the victory was to kill off the final five minutes. The Westie defense did its part and goaltender J.P. Withington again came up big. Withington saved the day with a diving save across the crease to deny Nick Kruczek with 21 seconds left in the game.
Withington had come up big earlier in the period with the game even at one. The Westie senior denied Kruczek with a diving save then stopped Mike Deane from the point with a pad save 27 seconds later.
“J.P. is J.P.,” Morrell said. “I have said that all year. He is going to keep us in a lot of games. He certainly did that the last two games.”
West Haven looked sluggish from the start and trailed 1-0 after one period. Hand controlled play early and finally solved Withington when Tyler Bauer took a pass from Deane out of the corner and beat Withington between the legs with 8:28 to go in the opening period.
Tagliarini came up with some big saves late in the first period for the Tigers. His best sequence came with 5:36 to go in the opening period as he stopped Landino’s slap shot then a rebound by Landino with two chest saves. When Jeff Norton picked up the second rebound, Tagliarini made a pad save to keep the Tigers in front.
Hand had an early opportunity to increase the lead in the second period but Mitch Brown’s shot rang off the post just 2:10 into the middle period. That missed opportunity would hurt the Tigers two minutes later.
Brandon Cangiano’s shot from the slot went over Tagliarini’s glove off the crossbar. The puck bounced out to Landino who beat Tagliarini with 10:50 to go in the second period to even the game at one.
“I am not very happy,” Morrell said. “We got outplayed again. We are not going to keep stealing games every game. We were outplayed in two straight games and only gave up one goal.”
Withington made 23 saves in the win for West Haven. Tagliarini finished with 13 saves for the Tigers.
Westies remain unbeaten
Four straight goals improves WH to 5-0-1
By MIKE MADERA
EAST HAVEN – The formula for the West Haven hockey team thus far in the season has been get a couple in the net and let goaltender J.P. Withington do the rest. Over the course of the first five games, that formula produced four wins and a tie.
Looking to pick up their fifth win of the year, West Haven would have to face a scrappy East Haven team. When East Haven’s Andrew Hamilton scored just 55 seconds into the game, it looked as if the Westies were going to be in for a battle.
While the Yellowjackets pressured the Westies, it was all Withington after Hamilton’s goal as the Westies scored the next four goals in a 4-1 victory at the DiLungo Rink in East Haven Thursday evening. Withington finished with 25 saves, including 11 in the final period.
“J.P. played really well again,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said. “He is making the big saves when we need them. We are taking advantage of our opportunities and he is helping us.”
As Withington kept East Haven off the scoreboard after Hamilton’s early goal, a balanced scoring attack allowed West Haven, the No. 6 team in the New Haven Register Top 10 poll, to improve to 5-0-1 on the season.
Dave Landino and Adam Mink each had a goal and an assist, Mike Troiano added two assists and seven different players had points on the night.
“It was a concern early as we were getting scoring from one line,” Morrell said. “We made some minor adjustments and we have gotten some guys going. That is big for us.”
East Haven came out of the gates firing and the pressure paid off early. After Hamilton’s laser from inside the blue line was stopped seconds into the contest, the senior scored just 55 seconds into the game after a Rich Decarlo rush set up the opening score.
The Westies responded just 45 seconds later with the biggest goal of the game. Off a 3-on-1 break, senior Jeff Norton beat East Haven goaltender Sam Gavigan to knot the game at 1.
Norton’s goal stopped any momentum East Haven was building and restored order for the Westies. Troiano and Landino assisted on the tying goal.
Ryan Hansen (l.) and Mike Troiano (r.) celebrate a goal. Photo courtesy of Russ McCreven.
“It was a huge goal for us,” Morrell said. “Michael (Troiano) made a nice pass to him. He (Norton) has a couple of big goals for us. He stands in front of the net and goes hard.”
Withington would not be beaten again. The Westie goaltender made his best save of the period three minutes in when he denied Tom Brunski with a leg save.
Gavigan was equally impressive in the first period. The East Haven goaltender denied Mink’s quick shot with three minutes remaining to preserve the tie.
West Haven won the game in the second period, scoring twice in a span of 1:47. Troiano and Kyle Leyerzapf set up Mink who beat Gavigan 6:07 in.
The Westies then dealt the knockout blow when Landino scored a short-handed goal off an assist from Mink with 7:06 remaining in the middle period.
“I thought it was one of our better periods,” Morrell said of the second period. “Both goals were beautiful goals. We can be sloppy at times but then we can be pretty. Those were two beautiful goals.”
With a two-goal lead, West Haven was in a defensive mode in the third period. It was the Yellowjackets, however, who controlled the play.
East Haven dominated the third period and Withington showed why he is among the best goaltenders in the state. The Yellowjackets outshot the Westies 11-1 in the period but Withington was up to the challenge.
The senior denied Brunski’s blistering shot in close then denied Billy Coppola a short time later. Withington thwarted Josh Johnson 1:28 in with a glove save and stopped freshman Stephen Marsico in succession, including a glove save with six minutes remaining.
West Haven’s only shot of the final period produced a goal. Ryan Hansen took a pass from Jim Morrissey, got by the defense and beat Gavigan over the shoulder with 5:14 remaining after the East Haven goaltender committed early.
“We changed the forecheck a little bit,” Morrell said. “We just wanted to eat the clock up. We are thrilled where we are at. We have put ourselves in a good situation right now.”
Notre Dame dominates Westies
Harney solid in goal as ND hands Westies first loss
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (Jan. 8, 2011) – Notre Dame coach Bill Gerosa was worried about his team prior to Saturday afternoon’s contest against cross-town rival West Haven. Coming off an emotional overtime loss to Fairfield Prep just two days earlier, Gerosa hoped his team was up to the challenge.
Despite not playing well in the first period, according to Gerosa, the Green Knights, ranked No. 5 in the Register Top 10 poll, picked up the tempo by scoring twice in the second period, then rode the play of goaltender Greg Harney to a 4-1 victory over West Haven at the Edward L. Bennett Rink on Joe Simoes Day.
“I thought they outplayed us after the 5-minute mark of the first period,” Gerosa said after his team improved to 5-2 on the season. “We had a lousy practice yesterday, our first of the year, and I did not know how we would come out.
“I thought the barometer of our season was going to be the Fairfield Prep game. We lost in overtime but I thought we competed pretty well. I was worried about the letdown but we got it out of our system in the first period.”
It took the Green Knights just 20 seconds to show they were ready to play as R.J. Bishop’s shot from the left point deflected off West Haven defenseman Dean Alling’s skate between the legs of goaltender J.P. Withington for a 1-0 Green Knight lead.
J.P. Withington stops a shot by Notre Dame's Matt Merola as Dean Alling looks on. Photo courtesy of New Haven Register.
The Westies, No. 6 in the Register poll, evened the game with 4 minutes, 41 seconds remaining in the first period but never led in the contest. Ryan Hansen took a perfect pass from Mike Troiano and easily beat Harney for the equalizer on the power-play.
It was all Notre Dame after Hansen’s equalizer. The defense and penalty-killing unit led by Kevin DuBrow, stifled the Westies and kept West Haven’s shots to a minimum.
Notre Dame allowed just Hansen’s power-play goal in five West Haven opportunities as the Green Knight pressure forced West Haven to hurry its offense.
“We did not make the passes we needed to make,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said after his team fell to 5-1-1. “Everything was a struggle today. We struggled with our passing and on the power-play.”
Notre Dame took the lead for good in the second period with another early goal. Brandon Martone was alone in front as his shot trickled between the legs of Withington for a 2-1 Notre Dame advantage.
The backbreaker came less than 5 minutes later with West Haven on the power-play. A Westie turnover in front of Withington was picked up by Kyle Thibault who promptly beat Withington with 9:21 remaining in the period for a 3-1 Notre Dame lead.
The rest of the game was all about Notre Dame’s defense and Harney. The sophomore goaltender from East Haven made 16 saves in the victory, most of which came with a clear sight of the puck.
“I saw the puck well,” Harney said. “My defense blocked a lot of shots. Without them, it could have been different. They stopped a lot of plays.”
Harney denied two point shots from Alling and Kyle Leyerzapf in the final two minutes of the second period and was tested just once in the third period when he made a terrific pad save on a shot by Troiano.
“He (Harney) is terrific,” Gerosa said of Harney. “We are lucky to have him. He is unflappable. He is extremely elastic. He does some unconventional things to save the puck but he comes up big.”
Dave Landino races for a loose puck. Photo courtesy of Russ McCreven.
Notre Dame scored the only goal of the third period on a delayed penalty when Colby Cretella scored with 8:08 remaining. Joe Travaglino and Matt Merola assisted on the insurance goal.
Simoes, involved in West Haven youth hockey for nearly four decades, passed away in October. The late coach was honored between the first and second periods of the contest.
“It was a tremendous day and ceremony for Joe,” Morrell said. “It was a great tribute to a great guy who dedicated years and years of his time to thousands of kids.”
Withington finished with 33 saves in the loss. Cretella also had an assist in the victory for Notre Dame.
Jesuits too much for Westies
WH suffers second straight loss
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (Jan.19, 2011) – With the weather not cooperating, West Haven entered Wednesday evening’s contest against Fairfield Prep not having played in 11 days. Rust and playing one of the state’s top teams were the biggest concerns heading into the game for the Westies and those concerns were validated in the first period.
Scoring three times in the opening period and throwing everything but the kitchen sink at West Haven goaltender J.P. Withington, the Jesuits handed West Haven its second straight defeat with an 8-0 decision at the Edward L. Bennett Rink.
“They beat us everywhere,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said after his team fell to 5-2-1. “The key for us tonight was not to get beat one-on-one. We got beat one-on-one everywhere. They are a very skilled team.”
Eleven Prep players recorded points with sophomore Craig Puffer leading the way with two goals and an assist. Patrick Hayes added a goal and two assists and Bryan Puffer scored twice for the Jesuits, ranked No. 2 in the New Haven Register Top 10 poll.
“They pass the puck really well,” Morrell said. “They are solid everywhere. We knew they are a good team and we needed to play well. We just got beat everywhere.”
The Jesuits came out flying in the game and wasted no time setting the tone of the contest. Withington was forced to make a glove save on David White’s snap shot just 25 seconds in then denied Hayes on a breakaway 1 minute, 30 seconds in.
The Jesuits swarmed Withington early and finally capitalized 3:45 into the contest. Hayes’s shot was stopped by Withington but the rebound went to Craig Puffer who back-handed a shot over a sprawling Withington for a 1-0 lead.
Fairfield Prep (8-2) wasted no time taking a 2-0 lead on a beautiful goal by Evan Antisdale. The junior forward got by the West Haven defense, and ripped a shot past Withington into the upper right corner of the net at the 7:33 mark.
“We have to play defense,” Morrell said. “If we can’t play in the defensive zone, we are going to be in trouble. We struggled tonight.”
The pressure for the Jesuits continued in the opening period. White was denied on a breakaway but hustled after the puck and fed Bryan Puffer who was all alone in front. Puffer easily beat Withington for a 3-0 lead with 3:33 remaining in the period.
West Haven did not get going on offense until the final 2 minutes of the first period. Mike Troiano’s shot from the slot was stopped by Jesuit goaltender John Galiani with a glove save before Ryan Hansen’s slap shot off the right wing with 1:20 remaining in the period was turned away by Galiani’s pad save.
The Jesuits wasted no time icing the contest in the second period, scoring twice in a span of 18 seconds. Andrew Hatton’s low shot was deflected in by Craig Puffer 1:51 into the period.
Just 18 seconds later, a West Haven turnover left Liam Ferguson alone in front. Ferguson beat Withington for a 5-0 lead.
The Jesuits, who outshot West Haven 13-5 in the opening period, poured it on in the second with an 18-4 shot advantage. Bryan Puffer took advantage of a Westie turnover with 6:34 remaining to score an unassisted goal and Connor Peterson scored with 58 seconds remaining in the middle period for a 7-0 lead.
Withington made 24 saves in two periods before being replaced by Justin Shepard in the third. Shepard was tested early, making three saves before West Haven got going.
West Haven had its best scoring opportunities in the final period but freshman goalie Matt Beck, who replaced Galiani after two periods, was equal to the task. Beck denied Ryan Hansen after Hansen took a perfect pass from Troiano on a 2-on-1 break, then stopped Austin Hansen on a partial breakaway.
Brandon Cangiano was denied from in close as his shot rang off the mask of Beck before Beck denied a Cangiano rebound with 1:27 remaining.
“We knew we were going into the harder part of the schedule,” Morrell said. “It is a tough part. We have to compete.”
Hayes capped the scoring for the Jesuits when he beat Shepard from alone in the slot with 5:58 to go in the game. The Jesuits outshot West Haven 43-15 in the game.
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