Painful end to Dream Season
WH falls one game short of championship gameBy MIKE MADERA
NEW HAVEN (March 14, 2012) – As the final handshakes were taking place after a gut-wrenching 6-2 loss to cross-town rival Notre Dame in the semifinals of the Division I state tournament, West Haven senior defenseman Dan Granfield waited until every one of his teammates and coaches left the ice before departing. Granfield gave one last look around Ingalls Rink before departing for the last time in a West Haven uniform.
Three years prior, Granfield left the ice as a freshman, having picked up an assist on the game-winning goal in St. Joseph’s double overtime victory over Staples/Weston for a state title. Granfield had come full circle at Ingalls and was clear about his feelings for the Westies.
“I just did not want to get off,” Granfield said. “It was a great season with these guys. It was my first and last season with West Haven and I loved it.
“We were the true underdogs. No one outside of this locker room thought we would get to Ingalls. But, with hard work, motivation and determination, we got here. We had one goal in mind and that was to get here. We played so well to get here. Tonight, it didn’t go our way. This is such a great group of guys.”
Those feelings by Granfield were echoed throughout the team all through the year. The bond this team shared played a big role in the Westies getting to the semifinals.
“It was a great season,” West Haven head coach Joe Morrell said. “It’s hard but like we just told the kids, we had kids who wore the jerseys before you praying to get to Ingalls.
“We wanted to get to the tournament and we wanted to get to Ingalls. We accomplished those two goals. It was a great run, an unbelievable run.”
Morrell then motioned to Kyle Leyerzapf.
“This guy was unbelievable all year,” Morrell said. “We don’t get here without guys like him.”
Leyerzapf, a senior defenseman who played like a forward all season long while also stifling opposing teams, could not hide his feelings after the loss. Leyerzapf and his team wanted a state title but knew it was not in the cards early on in the game.
“We just took it one goal at a time this year,” Leyerzapf said. “We wanted to make the playoffs, get a home game and get to Ingalls. We wanted to win a state championship. We were three for four. We just came up short.
“Things were a little crazy in the beginning of the game. We came out timid. We did not play our style of hockey. We paid for it in the first period. It was a wakeup call. They came at us hard in the first few minutes. It is a game of momentum and it was with them the whole time.”
While the Westies fell one step short of a championship game and finished with a 15-8 record, Leyerzapf felt this team had chemistry not seen in past years.
“This was a team,” Leyerzapf said. “No one had trouble with anyone. We all played as a team. I just tried to lead by example. I have confidence with the puck. I think that led to my success.”
Morrell was sad to see the season end. Not only was a chance at a championship gone but the group itself had left a mark on the head coach.
“These kids played so well together,” Morrell said. “They worked so hard to get here. We are proud of what we did. No one expected us to be here tonight. We had different guys step up in different games.”
Seniors Adam Mink and Leyerzapf capped their West Haven careers with third period goals while fellow senior Mike Troiano added an assist on each.
Dream is Over
Westies fall in semifinals to Notre Dame
By MIKE MADERA
NEW HAVEN (March 14, 2012) – It had all the makings of a dream season. An upset of Ridgefield had the West Haven hockey team dreaming of a state title.
The only problem was cross-town rival Notre Dame did not comply. Paced by two first period goals and a hungrier attack, the Green Knights end West Haven’s season with a 6-2 semifinal victory at Ingalls Rink Wednesday evening.
The Westies, playing in their first semifinal contest since 2004, were looking to advance to the finals for the first time since 1994. That never happened asWest Haven looked timid from the start and never got going.
“We came out a little timid,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said. “Maybe the game was too big. We just did not play our game in the first two periods. We told the kids to just relax. We seemed tight.”
If there was any doubt things were not going West Haven’s way, the third period told the story. Just 46 seconds into the period and trailing 3-0, Mike Troiano was awarded a penalty shot. Troiano’s shot sailed wide of the net and the best opportunity for West Haven went by the boards.
“We had our chances in the last period,” Morrell said.
The game did not start well for the Westies as the Green Knights owned the opening period in shots (9-3) and in goals, taking a 2-0 lead. Notre Dame was hungrier from the start and never let up in the initial 15 minutes.
“I thought we did not show them any respect in the loss,” Notre Dame coach Bill Gerosa said of an earlier season 4-1 loss. “I was not happy with it. We responded tonight.”
The Green Knights set the tone just 49 seconds into the game when Jeffrey Bausch picked up a loose puck and beat West Haven goaltender Justin Shepard. Shepard, who was brilliant in the quarterfinal victory overRidgefield, did his best to keep the Westies in the game but it was not enough.
“We have been getting the early goals in the playoffs,” Morrell said. “It set the tone. They just came out and set the tone from the start.”
The Green Knights were relentless in the opening period. Colby Cretella was denied by Shepard from the slot 2 minutes, 15 seconds in and Bausch hit the post with 11:40 to go in the period.
Notre Dame won another battle behind the net when Greg Zullo skated out front and beat Shepard for a 2-0 lead with 3:54 to go in the opening period.
“We just did not get going,” Morrell said. “The guys were not moving their feet. A lot of the things we do well, we did not do.”
West Haven had its two best scoring chances in the final 2:20 of the opening period. Adam Mink was denied by Notre Dame goaltender Luc Amatruda on a partial breakaway with 2:20 remaining and Troiano was robbed by an Amatruda glove save in the final six seconds.
The Green Knights put the game away just 1:43 into the second period. Bausch fed Kyle Thibault, who came down the left wing and blasted a shot past Shepard for a 3-0 lead.
“We learned from the first loss to them,” Thibault said. “This feels great. From the start of the season, we knew we had a great team. This has been our goal from the start.”
Morrell knew West Haven needed to get the first goal of the second period.
“It took the air out of us a little bit,” Morrell said. “We tried to get the puck on net. A lot of our goals are tip-ins or deflections.”
West Haven battled but could not get on track in the second period. The Westies managed just five shots in the middle period, with their best scoring chances coming sporadically.
Amatruda made a pad save on a Kyle Leyerzapf shot from the point 6:10 in and stopped a blast from Troiano six seconds later.
“We just took it one goal at a time this year,” Leyerzapf said. “We wanted to make the playoffs, get a home game and get to Ingalls. We wanted to win a state championship. We were three for four. We just came up short.”
West Haven’s best rush came with four minutes left in the period. Austin Hansen’s initial rush was stopped by Amatruda as was the rebound to Troiano. Leyerzapf then blasted a shot from the point but Amatruda was there as well.
Shepard picked up the pace as the period went on. The senior denied Zullo on a 2-on-1 then stopped Eric Austin in front with 3:14 to go.
West Haven finally got on the scoreboard with 5:51 remaining in the game Leyerzapf scored on the power play. Just 1:14 later, Adam Mink scored off an assist from Troiano to cut the deficit to 5-2 but Alexander Esposito answered 29 seconds later for the Green Knights.Notre Dame finished with a 28-17 shot advantage in the game.
Shepard leads Westies to semifinals
WH to play Notre Dame in first semifinal appearance since 2004
By MIKE MADERA
BRIDGEPORT (March 10, 2012) – With ten seconds left in Saturday afternoon’s Division I quarterfinal hockey match between No. 3 Ridgefield and No. 6 West Haven, all that was left to decide was whether West Havengoaltender Justin Shepard’s brilliant performance would result in a shutout. While the Tigers scored a power play goal with 4.4 seconds remaining, nothing could take away from the show Shepard put on at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport.
The senior goaltender made 39 saves, practically all in spectacular fashion, as the Westies upset the Tigers 4-1.
West Haven (15-7) advances to Wednesday evening’s semifinal contest against Notre Dame – West Haven, a 4-2 winner over South Windsor, at Ingalls Rink at either 5:30 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. The contest will mark West Haven’s first return to the semifinals since losing to Fairfield Prep 4-3 in double overtime in 2004.
“What can you say about Shep?” West Haven head coach Joe Morrell said of his goaltender. “He stood on his head today. He was focused right down to the last save where he was falling into the net.
“He made some unbelievable saves in the first four minutes of the game where they were putting on all the pressure. He was unbelievable. He allowed us to take the lead and just kept it going all game. They threw everything at him and he withstood everything.”
Shepard’s highlight reel saves early in the game robbed Tim Kelly seconds in, then Vincent Rella in front a short time later. For three more minutes, Shepard was blasted with shots and the goaltender kept the contest scoreless.
“I have to give credit to the whole coaching staff,” Shepard said. “They pushed us all week. Coach John (Ascenzia) kept saying you play as you practice. We were just focused throughout the game.
“I was just trying to keep my team in the game. I did not want to let them down. I just played to the best of my ability.”
West Haven capitalized when Kyle Leyerzapf blasted a shot from the point, which was tipped by Brandon Cangiano then Wes Gambardella pastRidgefield goaltender Nathan Gliedman with 2:09 gone by in the game for a 1-0 lead.
After Shepard denied Daniel McMullan twice, West Haven took a 2-0 lead when Jaeson Puleo scored off assists from Peter Lynn and Cangiano with 4:41 gone by in the contest.
“He was unreal,” Leyerzapf said of Shepard. “I said after we beat Notre Dame earlier in the season that I have never seen him play like that. Tonight, I have never seen that either. It just shows who he is. The last couple of games he has been so confident. This is a big win for us.”
Shepard continued his dominance in the second period, as he made a sprawling save on Christopher Morrow with four minutes gone by, stopped John Christensen on a partial breakaway with a glove save 2:35 later, then made a sliding save to stop a blast by sniper Sean Wilkinson with 7:19 remaining in the middle period.
“The story line of the game is their goaltender,” Ridgefield coach Sean Gallagher said of Shepard after his team finished with a 21-3 record. “Hats off to West Haven especially their goaltender. The kid stole the game for them. He just did an outstanding job.
“We had chances we did not bury. There were pucks we did not get to. You have to give credit to their goalie. He ended our season.”
With Shepard turning away the Tigers, West Haven put the game away with two goals in a span of 1:41 to take a 4-0 lead in the second period. Josh Robichaud’s point shot through traffic beat Gliedman with 3:12 remaining in the period and Adam Mink broke down the right wing and rifled a shot to the lower left corner for a 4-0 lead and a showdown with West Haven’s cross-town rivals.
“We play in the same rink and we know each other,” Morrell said of playing Notre Dame. “They are coached very well and they do a great job.”
Mink’s goal was the only time the top line of Mink, Mike Troiano and Austin Hansen got on the scoreboard, something Morrell was quick to point out.
“Everyone contributed, which was big,” Morrell said. “We needed that.”
West Haven held Wilkinson to just an assist on Christensen’s goal in the final seconds. Cangiano led West Haven with three assists.
Read more about West Haven's win here and the Hamden - Fairfield Prep contest here in the New Haven Register
Read more in the Connecticut Post here
West is Best
Westies defeat East Haven in 1st round of state tournament
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (March 7, 2012) – The West Haven hockey team has not fared well in the opening round of the state tournament the last two years. When East Haven took an early lead in the opening round contest Wednesday evening, that uneasy feeling was settling in for the Westie faithful.
All that changed in an instant. Sparked by four second period goals, including two on breakaways, No. 6 West Haven hung on for a 5-3 victory over No. 11 East Haven at the Edward L. Bennett Rink. West Havenadvances to the quarterfinals Saturday evening against Ridgefield at a site and time to be determined.
“It is tough to give up a goal early on the power play like that,” Joe Morrell said after his team improved to 14-7. “We made some adjustments and that helped. In the first period, we were coming off the boards. We went up the middle in the second and got the two goals.
“For most of these kids, it’s their first time going to the next round. It is great for this group. I thought it was important we get this win for them.”
After being thoroughly outplayed in the first period, West Haven lifted its level of play in the middle period, scoring four times to take a 5-1 lead.
The Westies wasted no time taking the lead for good as Jim Morrissey flipped a perfect pass to Peter Lynn, sending Lynn on a breakaway. Lynndeked East Haven goaltender Zak Bouve for a 2-1 West Haven lead.
Just 1:19 later, West Haven led 3-1 on another breakaway goal. Adam Mink sent Mike Troiano in alone on Bouve and Troiano did the rest, going top shelf for a 3-1 lead with 12:01 remaining in the middle period.
West Haven goaltender Forrest Schell needed to make just seven saves in the period, but came up big when he robbed Stephen Marsico with a pad save with 9:01 remaining. Schell then denied Rich DeCarlo in front with 7:40 remaining to preserve the two-goal lead.
To read the rest of this article, go to the Milford-Orange Bulletin here
Westies fall to Cheshire in OT
Troiano joins 100 point club
By MIKE MADERA
MIDDLETOWN (March 1, 2012) – The West Haven hockey team had plenty to play for when it traveled to Wesleyan University to take on Cheshire Thursday afternoon. The Westies knew a win over the Rams would almost certainly vault them to the fifth spot for the CIAC state tournament.
Also at play for the Westies was an individual achievement. Senior forward Mike Troiano needed just one point to reach 100 for his career.
Rallying from two goals down to tie the game in the third period, the Westies could not finish the job. Cheshire’s Alex Vendetto scored with 4 minutes, 12 seconds lefts in overtime as the Rams defeated the Westies 4-3.
“We wish we ended the season on a higher note,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said after his team finished the regular season at 13-7. “We played so well our last four games. You come back twice like that, you are supposed to win.”
The loss, which also saw Troiano reach the milestone at the end of the opening period, hurt West Haven’s chances in moving up the ladder when the CIAC pairings come out Saturday. West Haven unofficially will finish sixth in the seedings and looks as if the Westies will host East Haven in an opening round contest.
Playing with Honor
Westies defeat Fermi in game dedicated to military veterans
By MIKE MADERA
Special thanks to Callan McKeon who contributed to this article
WEST HAVEN (February 27, 2012) – The game had all the emotions of a special evening. With the West Haven hockey team honoring our country’s veterans and senior Mike Troiano approaching the 100 point mark for his career, the Westies had a tall order in front of them.
Troiano and his teammates, wearing specially made military uniform shirts, made sure everyone went home happy as the Westies defeated Fermi-Enfield 4-2 at the Edward L. Bennett Rink Monday evening.
"I thought we came out of the gates really hard after the ceremony," West Haven coach Joe Morrell said after his team improved to 13-6. "We needed the nine points from the game and we got them.
"I am thrilled. We jumped up in the seedings that count. We went from twelfth to sixth in a week. We basically have one game left to pick up nine points and move to fifth."
The West Haven senior needed three points to notch 100 for his career and was well on his way in the opening period as he scored twice for a 2-0 lead.
Troiano had several opportunities in the second period, but was tripped breaking in on Fermi goaltender Aaron Lickwar and later rang a shot off the crossbar to remain one point short of the milestone.
"We wanted him to get it," Morrell said. "Unfortunately, he could not get it done.
"That line (Adam Mink, Austin Hansen and Troiano) has been getting big goals all year for us. I can't say enough about them. They have consistently put the puck in the net."
The Westies put the pressure on early, taking 15 shots in the opening period after an emotional pregame ceremony honoring the military veterans. Troiano put the Westies on the board when he took a perfect lead pass from Kyle Leyerzapf and deked Lickwar to the top corner for a 1-0 lead 2 minutes, 53 seconds into the game.
Lickwar denied point shots by Josh Robichaud and Dan Granfield seconds apart before Troiano gave the Westies a 2-0 lead. Taking a perfect pass in front from Adam Mink, Troiano again deked Lickwar and went to the top corner for a 2-0 lead with 9:18 remaining in the opening period.
Fermi needed just 1:23 to remind West Haven it was in a game. Nick Ferracci skated down the left wing and slid a perfect pass to Nick Varner who beatWest Haven goaltender Justin Shepard to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Both teams then missed scoring opportunities. Fermi’s Brendan Lemire hit the post with 4:20 remaining in the period and West Haven’s Jim Morrissey shot wide on a breakaway with 2:40 remaining.
The Westies increased the lead to 3-1 seconds into the second period. Robichaud found Leyerzapf down low and Leyerzapf wasted no time going top shelf 35 seconds into the middle period for a 3-1 lead.
"He has been amazing," Morrell said of Leyerzapf. "I don'tthink I have ever had such an offensive defenseman. He is over 30 points now."
The two-goal lead remained intact until 5:25 remained in the period. Avery Boissy beat Shepard off assists from Lemire and Cam Korona to cut the deficit to 3-2.
The Westies closed the scoring in the final seconds of the middle period. Robichaud picked up a rebound of Leyerzapf’s point shot and beat Lickwar with nine seconds remaining in the period for a 4-2 advantage.
Lickwar kept his team in the game, making several outstanding saves. The junior goaltender denied Mink on a beautiful one-timer off a pass from Troiano early in the second then stopped Mink again on a breakaway 3:30 into the middle period. Lickwar also denied Brandon Cangiano’s breakaway with a shoulder save with 3:30 remaining in the period.
The Westies also hit the post in the third period. Jaeson Puleo rang the metal with 9:45 remaining and Austin Hansen hit the post with an open net with 30 seconds to go.
Shepard also played well, making a great save on a rebound shot by Jason Despard with 9:30 to go in the game and stopping a one-timer in front with 3:45 remaining.
Troiano, Mink and Hansen lead Westies past Xavier
By Mike Madera
Special thanks to Jolie Morrell who contributed to this article
(February 25, 2012) – Heading into the season, opponents knew the line of Mike Troiano, Adam Mink and Austin Hansen was the one to stop if teams were going to beat West Haven. Knowing this is one thing. Stopping them is another.
The Xavier Falcons found this out Saturday afternoon as the trio combined for 13 points in West Haven’s 6-3 victory over Xavier at WesleyanUniversity. Hansen led the way with two goals and three assists, Mink had two goals and two assists and Troiano added one goal and three assists asWest Haven improved to 12-6 on the year.
“They stepped up in a big way,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said of Hansen, Mink and Troiano. “They scored in the first 20 seconds of the game. They had a little lull in the middle of the season. We are going to need them in the end. They are flying now.”
With the victory, the Westies continued their climb up the ladder in the seedings for the state tournament. Looking to get a home game in the postseason, West Haven improved its chances with the victory.
“We are not looking ahead but we are looking at the possibilities,” Morrell said. “Right now, we can be 14-6, 13-7 or 12-8. We keep crossing them off from the bottom which is a good thing. Every game is a nine point game. We are eighth right now. We can get to five and possibly four but we have to win these games at the end.”
Forrest Schell continued to play well in goal as he finished with 29 saves. Schell came up big in the third period after goals by Kade McCartin and John Gethings 1 minute, 26 seconds apart cut West Haven’s lead to 4-3.
The Falcons never got closer. Schell made a big save with 3:40 remaining to preserve the lead and Hansen scored with 2:14 remaining to give West Haven a 5-3 lead.
The junior took a perfect pass from Josh Robichaud and beat Xavier goaltender Shane Baldwin between the pads to increase the lead to two goals. Hansen’s second of the game with 1:08 remaining into an empty net sealed the victory.
“I thought he (Schell) played really well,” Morrell said of Schell “He played in back-to-back games and I thought he responded really well. Austin had a big goal as well. He took a nice pass from Josh Robichaud and went five-hole.”
West Haven wasted no time setting the tone of the game as the Westies scored 15 seconds into the game. Off the opening faceoff, Hansen passed to Troiano who fed Mink for a 1-0 lead as Mink beat Baldwin.
“The goal was big as the scouting report said they do not give up a lot of goals,” Morrell said. “To get the first one was big.”
West Haven had its chances to increase the lead in the opening period butBaldwin was up to the challenge. The Xavier goaltender denied Jim Morrissey with a shoulder save 1:21 into the game and stopped a shot by Troiano from the top of the circle with 2:30 remaining in the period.
The Westies increased the lead to 2-0 early in the second period on the power play. Alex Scranton’s shot was tipped by Morrissey over to Peter Lynn. Lynn jammed the puck by Baldwin for West Haven’s second goal of the game.
Schell then came up big as he stopped Nate Rosemond’s shot from the point with a glove save 4:34 into the middle period.
Just 4:05 after Lynn’s goal, West Haven led 3-0. The trio of Mink, Hansen and Troiano were at it again as Hansen and Troiano set up Mink for a 3-0 lead.
The Falcons cut into the deficit 2:02 later as Andrew Meoli set up Dan Dupont who beat Schell, cutting the West Haven lead to 3-1.
Looking to continue the momentum, Xavier was thwarted in its attempt to get closer when another nice pass play gave West Haven a 4-1 lead. Hansen’s pass to Troiano was one-timed in by Troiano with 1:45 remaining in the middle period, sending West Haven to the second intermission ahead by three goals.
“I thought it was big once we made it 4-1,” Morrell said. “After they cut it to two goals, they tried to take the momentum. That fourth goal was big.”
West Haven could not extend the lead at the start of the third period ad Xavier took the momentum of the game with two goals in 1:26. Meoli and Dupont set up McCartin 6:10 into the period to cut the deficit to 4-2 and Meoli and Bryan Stanton set up Gethings with 7:24 remaining in the game.West Haven had its opportunities to increase the lead but Troiano hit the post with 9:35 remaining and was stopped on a breakaway a short time later.
Troiano, Schell lead Westies
West Haven beats Tri-Town 4-0
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (February 22, 2012) – West Haven hockey coach Joe Morrell knew the danger of Wednesday evening’s contest against Tri-Town. The Westies were coming off an emotional victory over Hamden, while Tri-Town was playing for its postseason lives.
Through 15 minutes of play, Morrell had reasons for concern despite a scoreless game. Mike Troiano eased Morrell’s fears as the senior scored twice in a 4-0 West Haven victory on Senior Night at the Edward L. Bennett Rink.
“We had some odd-man rushes we didn’t capitalize on in the first period,” Morrell said after his team improved to 11-6. “We came out in the second period and capitalized.
“Mike Troiano’s goal early was big. It was enormous. He had some breakaways he missed in the first period but he came up big.”
Morrell continued the rotation in goal with Forrest Schell getting the start. Schell came up big with 25 saves in the game, including nine in the first period when Tri-Town had the better of the play.
“Coach tells us the day before who is in goal,” Schell said after picking up his first shutout. “Whoever is not in goal does the best we can to support the team.
“It is tremendous. We got the job done on Senior Night. It feels good to be on the two-game winning streak.”
After failing to score in the opening period, a different West Haven team showed up in the second. The Westies needed just 32 seconds to take control of the period and the game.
With Jaeson Puleo in the penalty box, Kyle Leyerzapf sent Troiano in on Tri-Town goaltender Kevin White all alone. Troiano made one move, then went to the backhand past White for a short-handed goal and a 1-0 lead.
Read the remainder of this article in the Milford-Orange Bulletin here
Westies avenge loss to Hamden
Shepard, Leyerzapf star in win over Green Dragons
By MIKE MADERA
HAMDEN (February 18, 2012) - The postseason may be a few weeks away but no one can tell that to both the West Haven and Hamden hockey teams. After playing an overtime thriller Tuesday evening, the two teams were at it again Saturday afternoon in Hamden.
While the atmosphere was the same, the outcome was different. Paced by Kyle Leyerzapf’s third period goal and 28 saves by Justin Shepard, West Haven defeated Hamden 2-1 at the Lou Astorino Rink.
“This was an enormous game, especially after the other day,” West Havencoach Joe Morrell said after his team improved to 10-6. “I thought we played pretty well on Tuesday and lost a heartbreaking game.
“We knew we were going to be involved in another close game. We had that refuse to lose attitude. We told the kids you have to refuse to lose today and we did that.”
As has been the case all year, Leyerzapf came up with another big goal. With the game tied at 1 and the Westies on the power play, Hamden goaltender Andy Varga stopped a pair of shots by Austin Hansen and Mike Troiano. The rebound went right to Leyerzapf who beat Varga with 4 minutes, 36 seconds remaining in regulation.
“We were just told to put the puck on net,” Leyerzapf said after finishing with a goal and an assist. “We crashed the net and I was lucky enough to have a rebound come to me.
“This just shows the character of our team. We really wanted this bad and we came together as a group. We were able to get the job done.”
To read more about the West Haven - Hamden hockey game, see the Milford-Orange Bulletin here
Hamden stuns Westies in OT
Late goal by Germain sparks Green Dragons
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (February 14, 2012) - Hamden sophomore Jeremy Germain has the knack for being in the right place at the right time. Tuesday night at the Edward L. Bennett Rink in West Haven was no different as Germain scored the tying goal late in the third period, then followed with the game-winner in overtime as Hamden defeated West Haven 4-3.
The Green Dragons, ranked No. 4 in the New Haven Register Top 10 poll, improved to 9-3-2 while the fifth-ranked Westies fell to 9-6.
“We came out strong in the third period,” Germain said of his team’s 18 shots. “I just got a nice pass from Mike Lee both times. He was patient with both passes and found me.
“This was a big for us. We played South Windsor the other day and we have not really been playing well lately. It was nice to come from behind and get the win.”
Trailing 3-2 in the third period after Wes Gambardella gave the Westies the lead with 2 minutes, 37 seconds gone by in the period, Hamden put on the pressure. The Green Dragons peppered West Haven goaltender Forrest Schell but Schell was up to the challenge, stopping everything which came his way, including Mike Lee on a partial breakaway with 6:32 remaining in the third period.
“I thought he played really well,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said of Schell who made 37 saves.
After West Haven failed to clear the zone, Hamden capitalized. Joe O’Conner kept the puck in and allowed Germain to score the tying goal with 2:10 remaining in the third period.
Each team had chances in overtime but Schell and Hamden goaltender Andy Varga each came up big. Varga’s best save came when he robbed Mike Troiano in front with 45 seconds to play.
The Green Dragons got a faceoff in West Haven’s end after Mike Lee hit the crossbar and Hamden called a time out after play stopped. The Green Dragons kept the puck in the zone and Mike Lee again found Germain for the winning goal with 12 seconds remaining.
“It was a nice win,” Hamden coach Bill Verneris said. “We had to battle. We got some big goals at the end.
“How about (West Haven coach) Joe Morrell and the job he does? His kids do all the little things right. We had to work hard and we used every ounce of energy to win this game.”
West Haven had taken the lead on Gambardella’s early goal in the period but never expanded the advantage. The Westies best chance came when Austin Hansen missed a wide open net with the Westies short-handed with nine minutes remaining in the game.
“We said we can’t feed their points,” Morrell said. “Unfortunately, we shot it right to them. They made a nice play to keep it in.”
Hamden had the better of the play in the first period, but could only solve Schell once. With Adam Mink in the penalty box, Hamden capitalized.
West Haven’s Jim Morrissey went down behind the play, effectively giving Hamden a two-man advantage. The Green Dragons capitalized as Tim Lee beat Schell off an assist from his brother Mike Lee with 38 seconds remaining in the opening period.
Schell was on his game early as he denied Tim Lee on a breakaway after a West Haven turnover three minutes into the game. Schell denied Brandon Dadio’s point shot 1:30 later and stopped Tim Lee again off an angle from the slot.
West Haven had eight shots in the opening period but only a few were high quality. Varga was up to the challenge, stopping Kyle Leyerzapf from the point with 7:35 remaining in the first period.
Varga’s best saves came with 59 seconds remaining in the opening period as he stoned Troiano from in front with a pad save then stopped the rebound as well.
The Westies got back into the game with a pair of goals in the second period. After Varga denied both Troiano and Leyerzapf within two minutes, both had a part in tying the game at one.
Troiano broke down the right wing and fed a streaking Leyerzapf who deflected Troiano’s pass by Varga to even the game at one with 4:54 gone by in the middle period.
Hamden wasted no time taking the lead back as the Green Dragons answered 2:09 later. Tim Lee sent a perfect pass to Connor Walsh who took a shot which Schell stopped. Michael Regan picked up the rebound and beat Schell to give Hamden a 2-1 lead.
Troiano was at it again 4:03 after Regan’s goal. The senior sniper broke down the left wing and faked a pass to Hansen on the right wing. Troiano’s shot beat Varga to the glove side, sending the game to the third period even at two.
Westies thumped in South Windsor
By MIKE MADERA
(February 8, 2012) – Following what can be considered one of the team’s best performances of the year against cross-town rival Notre Dame on Saturday, the West Haven hockey team knew it needed another solid effort when the team traveled to play South Windsor Wednesday evening. South Windsor had other ideas.
Scoring three times in the third period, the Bobcats defeated West Haven 7-3. With the loss, West Haven fell to 9-5 on the season.
"We did not play well," West Haven coach Joe Morrell said. "We made mistakes we are not making. I am just very disappointed after a big win.
"We have seen it before in the past with this team. We have not been consistent. The question was can we put two solid games together? We struggled."
The Westies had to battle from the start as South Windsor never trailed. West Haven had a hard time containing David Ouellette who had two goals and an assist and Joseph Bonazelli who had three assists.
The Bobcats poured 33 shots on goal, including 12 in the first period. Persistence paid off for the Bobcats as Dorian LaBoy scored on the third rebound past a scrambling Justin Shepard with 8 minutes, 3 seconds remaining in the period for a 1-0 lead.
The Westies had their opportunities in the opening period but could not convert. Adam Mink was denied 2:20 into the game and Kyle Leyerzapf had a goal waved off when Mike Troiano was called for cross checking with three minutes remaining in the opening period. The Bobcats took a 2-0 lead just 3:47 into the middle period when Christopher Gionfriddo scored an unassisted goal but the Westies rallied to even the game at two.
Troiano cut the deficit in half when he picked up Mink’s rebound from the point for a power play goal 6:05 into the middle period. Troiano then set up Leyerzapf with another power play goal 2:03 later to even the game at two.
"I thought our power play and man down was incredible," Morrell said. "We had two penalties in the first and one in the second and they never got anything going."
Any momentum West Haven had quickly disappeared as South Windsor scored twice within a span of 2:49 for a 4-2 lead.
The Westies got some of the momentum back with their third power play goal of the game with 20 seconds remaining in the middle period as Leyerzapf fed Austin Hansen from the corner.
"I thought we were in pretty good shape," Morrell said. "We had the late power play goal and I felt we were playing okay. They scored relatively early in the third period and that set our sails a little bit."
Any thoughts of a comeback quickly disappeared with 5:47 gone by in the third period. Sophomore Nicholas Jones gave South Windsor a 5-3 lead with a laser to the top right corner and Ouellette followed 4:14 later to give South Windsor a 6-3 lead. Ouellette capped the scoring in the final 53 seconds.
"We are disappointed with some of our losses," Morrell said. "Our record should be much better. We have to play hard every single game."
Troiano led West Haven with one goal and two assists while Leyerzapf finished with a goal and an assist. Shepard made 26 saves in the loss.
Westies win battle of WH
West Haven defeats Green Knights 4-1
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (February 4, 2012) – After losing to Notre Dame – Fairfield three days ago, the West Haven hockey team knew it needed a better effort when it played cross-town rival Notre Dame – West Haven Saturday afternoon. Coach Joe Morrell stressed how important being focused in every phase of the game is.
Morrell’s team responded. Behind 37 saves from Justin Shepard and two goals by Mike Troiano, the Westies defeated the Green Knights 4-1 at the Edward L. Bennett Rink.
“After last game, I saw we were a little flat,” Morrell said after his team improved to 9-4. “We can’t be flat. We have to play above our game every time we go on the ice.”
Morrell’s message came through loud and clear, especially with Shepard. The West Haven goaltender came up big all game, including 29 saves in the final two periods.
“We talked with Shep (Shepard) about losing focus,” Morrell said. “He remained focused and came up with several big saves. He took home a couple of tapes and watched himself. He did that on his own.”
Despite being outplayed for the better part of the opening period, West Haven, the No. 7 team in the New Haven Register Top 10 poll, led 1-0 after one period of play.
With the Westies on the power play, Kyle Leyerzapf took a perfect spin pass from Troiano at the point and wasted no time firing a shot on goal. The shot was tipped by Austin Hansen past Notre Dame goaltender Luc Amatruda for a 1-0 lead with 6 minutes, 10 seconds remaining in the period.
“This is a huge win for us,” Leyerzapf said after finishing with a goal and two assists. “They are the number three team in the state.
“We were down pretty bad after losing to Notre Dame – Fairfield. In order to get that game out of our minds, we had to win this game. They are one of the tougher teams in the state.”
The goal marked the start of West Haven pressure until the final horn of the opening period. Amatruda was up to the challenge, denying Jim Morrissey in front, Hansen off a deflection in front and a knuckleball by Leyerzapf from the slot with two minutes to go.
Shepard was sharp early. Shepard made eight saves in the opening period, with a majority coming in the first eight minutes. Shepard made a blocker save on Greg Zullo’s shot from the slot 3:47 into the game, denied William Vizzo from the slot with a stick save four minutes after then stopped Alex Esposito from the right faceoff circle with 6:55 to go.
“I just practiced controlling my rebounds,” Shepard said. “The team did a good job in front of me. I was able to see the puck well.”
The Westies increased the lead to 4-1 in the second period thanks to the efforts of Leyerzapf and Troiano.
Just 58 seconds into the middle period, Leyerzapf took a perfect pass from Adam Mink and beat Amatruda for a 2-0 West Haven lead.
“You can’t say enough about Kyle,” Morrell said of Leyerzapf. “He does everything out there. His goal was a highlight reel goal.”
Just 3:16 later, the lead was 3-0. With West Haven on the power play, Leyerzapf took a shot from the point. Troiano tipped the puck by Amatruda for West Haven’s second power play goal of the game.
“Anything can happen,” Troiano said after finishing with two goals and an assist. “We knew we couldn’t play like we did against Notre Dame the other night. We had to play better and we did.”
The Green Knights picked up the pressure, ending the second period with 15 shots on goal. Shepard stood tall, denying a tipped shot by Zullo with nine minutes remaining and Colby Cretella 1:03 later.
“I have played with Justin the last five years and this is the best I have seen him play,” Leyerzapf said. “He played really well out there today.”
The Green Knights finally got on the board with 2:06 remaining in the middle period. After Hansen failed to get a shot off on an odd-man rush for West Haven, Vizzo took a pass from Darren Capobianco and went the length of the ice, beating Shepard between the legs.
“The bottom line is you have to respect your opponent,” Notre Dame coach Bill Gerosa said. “We did not follow that commandment today.
“We preached to them all week it is Harvard – Yale, Yankees – Red Sox. They were tremendously well coached today. We did not respect them and this is what happens.”
Notre Dame’s momentum lasted only 27 seconds. With a loose puck in front, Troiano poked a shot past Amatruda for a 4-1 lead.
Notre Dame held a 38-24 shot advantage in the loss.
Westies fall to Lancers 4-3
By MIKE MADERA
Special thanks to Callan McKeon who contributed to this article
WEST HAVEN (February 1, 2012) – After picking up its eighth win of the season Saturday afternoon against Amity, the West Haven hockey team was playing the rest of the season to improve its seeding in the state tournament. With the pressure of qualifying for the postseason gone, West Haven looked to climb the postseason ladder starting Wednesday evening against Notre Dame – Fairfield.
Unfortunately for the Westies, they ran into a team playing for its postseason life. When all was said and done, the Lancers made a two-goal second period stand up in a 4-3 victory over the Westies at the Edward L. Bennettt Rink.
“We talked to the guys before the game and said how important the games were for seeding,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said after his team fell to 8-4. “We have some tough games coming up. Unfortunately, we did not get the job done.”
West Haven had its chances throughout the game but did not capitalize. The squandered opportunities would come back to haunt the Westies.
Those missed chances started early as a Josh Robichaud pass to Adam Mink with an open net awaiting was not converted three minutes into the game. Mike Troiano then set up Mink for a one-timer, but Lancers’ goalie Scott Kline denied Mink with 7 minutes, 31 seconds remaining in the opening period.
“We knew going into the game they were going to be tough,” Morrell said of Notre Dame. “They always are. We had a lot of opportunities in the first period but we did not get the job done.”
The Westies finally converted with 4:59 remaining in the first period. Jim Morrissey’s shot on goal was stopped by Kline, but the rebound went to Jaeson Puleo for the goal and a 1-0 West Haven lead.
That lead lasted until the Lancers tied the game with 1:07 left in the first period on the power play. The initial shot by the Lancers was saved by West Haven goaltender Forrest Schell but the rebound went right to Dave Canfarotta to even the game at one.
The late goal by the Lancers seemed to shift the momentum as Notre Dame scored twice in the first 4:15 of the second period to take a 3-1 lead.
Notre Dame took a 2-1 lead with its second power play goal as Greg Ferris’ shot from the point went through the legs of Schell just 1:41 into the period. With all the momentum, the Lancers increased the margin to two goals when Frank Zumbo scored off a rebound with 10:45 to go in the middle period.
“We had opportunities to score early and we would have been up 3-1 and not them,” Morrell said. “We just didn’t get it done.”
Zumbo’s goal came nearly two minutes after the Westies had a golden opportunity to tie the game. Robichaud’s shot from the point was tipped by Hansen but rang off the post 2:30 into the period.
West Haven did cut into the lead just 1:42 after Zumbo’s goal. Robichaud’s shot from the point was deflected high into the net by Austin Hansen, cutting the deficit to 3-2.
Robichaud was at the center of attention as the period came to a close. Taking a pass from Brandon Cangiano, Robichaud hit the post with 23 seconds remaining in the period.
“It is tough to chase two goals but we reminded the guys we have done it before,” Morrell said. “We got the one goal but their goalie came up with some big saves.”
Schell kept his team alive at the start of the final period, stopping a breakaway 2:45 in and saving a West Haven turnover 15 seconds later.
Not long after, the Lancers led 4-2. C.J. Litwin’s one-timer from the bottom of the circle beat Schell and put West Haven in a two-goal hole with 11:06 remaining.
“It was a tough goal, but we battled back,” Morrell said.
To its credit, West Haven continued to pressure. Kline was up to the challenge as he denied Kyle Leyerzapf with a big glove save with 6:12 remaining.
West Haven finally cut the deficit to one goal when Hansen scored off a rebound with 4:10 remaining. Mink and Leyerzapf assisted on the goal which would be as close as West Haven would get.
On to the Second Season
Westies qualify for state tournament with win over Amity
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (January 28, 2012) – The last time Amity and West Haven faced off in the West Haven Christmas Tournament, the Westies won handily. Looking for a repeat effort Saturday afternoon, the Westies had to wait until the second period.
Scoring three times in the middle period and storming back from a deficit with four straight goals, the Westies defeated Amity 5-2 at the Edward L. Bennett Rink. The win allowed West Haven to improve to 8-3 and put the Westies in the postseason.
“It is enormous,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said of qualifying for the state tournament. “It was our first shot at qualifying and we got it done. We talked about how important it was to get it done this week.”
The pleasing part for Morrell had to be the fact West Haven won without leading point scorer Mike Troiano registering a point and the defense of the Westies held Amity sniper Joe Bianchi to just one assist. The defense, particularly Kyle Leyerzapf and the hard-hitting Dan Granfield, never let Bianchi get on track.
“Coming into the game, we knew we had to shut down their first line,” Granfield said. “We were really fired up and we knew we could not take any shifts off.
“We knew we had to take him off his game. The hard hits get the team really fired up. We just wanted to shut them down.”
While playing solid defensively, Leyerzapf was also stellar on the offensive side. The senior defenseman scored twice in the second period to give the Westies a 4-2 lead and also assisted on Adam Mink’s insurance goal in the third period.
“We set it as our objective this week,” Leyerzapf said of qualifying for the state tournament. “After losing to Fairfield Prep, we got our minds off it and were able to come back these last two games.”
Mink had a solid day as he finished with a goal and two assists and Austin Hansen scored once and assisted on three others. Not to be lost in the shuffle was the play of goaltender Forrest Schell who won his second game of the season, both against Amity, by making 23 saves.
“This was a big game for Forrest,” Morrell said. “He made some big saves in the third period. He brings high energy to the game.”
Amity, despite the play of goaltender Nick Nuzzolo, fell to 4-6 on the season. Amity needs four wins in its final ten games to qualify for the state tournament. Nuzzolo made 38 saves in the loss.
“I thought Nick Nuzzolo played outstanding,” Amity coach Gary Lindgren said. “We did not do a very good job in front of him.
“You have to tip your hat to West Haven. It was a frustrating game for us. We had a nice first period, but we gave up that goal right after we took the lead. That was a tough one.”
Despite West Haven controlling most of the play and having a 13-7 edge in shots, the two teams went to the first intermission even at one. Nuzzolo was the story of the opening period as he denied 12 West Haven shots.
The lone goal allowed by Nuzzolo came with 8:28 remaining in the period. Mink’s initial shot was denied and went to Hansen who quickly beat Nuzzolo for a 1-0 lead.
The Westies held the lead until the final two minutes of the period. With Leyerzapf in the penalty box for hooking, Amity needed just 10 seconds to capitalize.
Eric Dykun’s point shot sailed through traffic and beat Schell with 1:41 remaining to even the game at one. Riley Hine and Bianchi assisted on the equalizer.
Between the two goals scored, Nuzzolo was forced to make some fine saves. The Amity goaltender denied Brandon Cangiano from the slot with a pad save with 7:33 remaining and Leyerzapf was denied from the point 12 seconds later. Nuzzolo also stopped Hansen in front and Mink on a partial breakaway with 3:10 remaining.
The Westies took control of the game in the second period, scoring three times after Amity took a 2-1 lead. Just 18 seconds after Nyjahwahn Walker gave the Spartans a 2-1 lead, West Haven evened the game on Jaeson Puleo’s goal off an assist from Jim Morrissey with 12:10 remaining in the middle period.
West Haven continued to put the pressure on and capitalized with 10:34 remaining in the period. After Leyerzapf rang a shot off the post, he came back seconds later to beat Nuzzolo for a 3-2 West Haven lead.
The Westies, who had 18 shots in the period, never stopped the pressure. Just 2:32 after Leyerzapf scored, the defenseman added his second of the game to give West Haven a 4-2 lead.
Leyerzapf took a pass from Mink and beat Nuzzolo to the right corner, sending West Haven to the intermission with a two-goal lead.
“When I have the puck on my stick, I have confidence with it,” Leyerzapf said.
Nuzzolo made more quality saves in the second period, as he denied Peter Lynn in front just 2:43 in and Wes Gambardella was denied from in front with 3:47 remaining.
The Spartans had only seven shots in the second period and Schell was up to the challenge. After allowing Walker’s goal, Schell denied Dykun from the point with a glove save with 9:28 remaining and Matthew Seymour from the left faceoff circle with 3:35 remaining.
Westies romp over Indians
WH snaps losing skid with win over Milford
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (January 25, 2012) – It had been 18 days since the West Haven hockey team savored a victory. Scoring only twice in two straight losses, the Westies were looking for a spark.
That spark came Wednesday evening courtesy of Mike Troiano. The senior left wing scored three times, including once on a penalty shot, as the Westies rolled to a 9-2 victory over Milford at the Edward L. Bennett Rink.
“We have been having a problem scoring period,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said. “Scoring has definitely been an issue. We needed a break through game.”
West Haven, the No. 7 team in the New Haven Register Top 10 poll, improved to 7-3. Milford has dropped three of its last four contests and fell to 6-4.
“If you eliminate the thirty seconds in the first period where they scored the two goals, we were right there in the period,” Milford coach Sal Follo said. “When you play a Division I club, they keep coming at you. They are a little faster than us.
“It was a good experience for us. This will help us prepare for our goal of qualifying for the state tournament.”
The opening period looked as if it would end scoreless before the two teams awakened in the final 2 minutes, 48 seconds. Four goals were scored in that time frame and the Westies took a 3-1 lead to the intermission.
Troiano, who scored two of the West Haven goals in the first period, started the scoring when he came down the left wing and beat Milford goaltender Matt White to the top corner for a 1-0 West Haven lead.
Milford wasted no time responding. Just 30 seconds after Troiano scored, Craig Wargo evened the game. Wargo was alone in front of West Havengoaltender Justin Shepard and poked a shot over the West Haven goaltender with 2:18 remaining.
“He (Wargo) played well,” Follo said. “He showed he is for real. He is one of the top scorers in the area. I thought it was big we came back to tie the game. That showed a lot.”
West Haven pulled away for good, scoring twice in 1:07 to end the period. Troiano gave the Westies a 2-1 lead when he took a perfect pass from Adam Mink and slid a shot past White with 1:44 to go in the first period.
Jim Morrissey increased the lead to 3-1 with 37 seconds remaining in the period. Morrissey tipped Josh Robichaud’s point shot past White to giveWest Haven a two-goal lead after one period of play.
“We wanted to get on them early,” Troiano said. “You never know what can happen. They came out and played hard. It was big for us to come out with the lead.”
Before all the scoring, both goaltenders were forced to come up with some saves to keep the game scoreless. Shepard denied T.J. Olsson in front just 1:16 into the game, then made a glove save off a laser by Zach White 30 seconds later.
Matt White was up to the challenge as well. The Milford goaltender twice stopped Kyle Leyerzapf from the point then denied Troiano on the rebound from in front.
“I thought Matt was outstanding early,” Follo said of Matt White. “He kept us in the game.”
West Haven wasted no time extending the lead in the second period. Awarded a penalty shot, Troiano completed his hat trick when he deked Matt White and shot to the top left corner just 53 seconds into the middle period.
“There was no pressure,” Troiano said. “I was confident. It was big.”
The Westies used special teams to take a 7-2 lead after two periods of play. Robichaud scored on the power play off assists from Mink and Morrissey with 8:58 remaining and Mink added a short-handed goal 6:04 later to give West Haven a 6-1 lead.
“To be 7-3 is huge,” Morrell said. “We wanted to come out and not let this one get away. This was a big game for us.”
Milford again struck quickly after a West Haven goal. Just 39 seconds after Mink scored, Wargo took a pass from Zach White and beat Shepard for his second goal of the game to cut the deficit to 6-2.
Leyerzapf ended the second period scoring with four seconds remaining. Off an assist from Troiano, Leyerzapf beat Matt White with a power play goal from the high slot to extend the margin to five goals.
Jaeson Puleo rounded out the scoring with a pair of third period goals for the Westies.
Ten different players got into the scoring column for West Haven. Mink finished with a goal and two assists, Austin Hansen and Troiano each had two assists and Morrissey, Robichaud and Leyerzapf each had a goal and an assist.
Westies Trounced by Prep
Jesuits score early and often in easy win over WH
By MIKE MADERA
BRIDGEPORT (January 18, 2012) – The last time West Haven traveled to the Wonderland of Ice to play Fairfield Prep two seasons ago, the game was a battle of two of the top teams in the state, won by West Haven in overtime. While Wednesday evening’s contest still featured a battle of teams in the New Haven Register Top 10 poll, the feel of the contest was different from the start.
So too was the end result. Top-ranked Fairfield Prep, behind the line of A.J. Unker, David White and Nick Bargiello, scored early and rolled to an 8-1 victory over the seventh-ranked Westies.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said after his team fell to 6-3. “We had to come out quickly. We hoped to have had a better effort.”
Unker was the star of the game as he scored the Jesuits’ first three goals, added an assist on the fourth and finished with five points after adding a third period goal. Fairfield Prep goaltender Riley Wikman saw only 15 shots, but stopped all but one of which he faced.
“We talked about getting a lot of shots in this game,” Morrell said. “We just didn’t get them.”
West Haven’s lone goal came in the third period to spoil Wikman’s shutout bid. On the power play, Mike Troiano took the defense with him and slid a perfect pass to Austin Hansen who beat Wikman with 8:20 remaining in the game.
The first period set the tone of the game as the Jesuits held a 16-5 shot advantage and that was not even indicative of how dominant Fairfield Prep was in the opening period. The Jesuits controlled play throughout the period in all phases of the game.
Unker had Fairfield Prep’s first solid scoring opportunity just 2 minutes, 23 seconds into the contest but his backhander was denied by West Haven goaltender Justin Shepard. Shepard had to be up to the challenge early as Tom Worsfold ripped a laser from the slot 30 seconds later.
With all the pressure, the Jesuits finally cracked Shepard with 4:33 gone by in the game. Positioned in front of the goal, Unker took a pass from White and flipped a shot over the blocker of Shepard for a 1-0 lead.
Prep seemed to be in a different gear in the opening period as the pressure never stopped. Shepard was forced to stop Matt Wikman in front and Kenny Kochiss’ deflection before West Haven had its first scoring opportunity.
Troiano split the Prep defense and was hauled down by Andrew Hatton while taking a shot on Riley Wikman. Wikman made the save, but Hatton would go to the penalty box for hooking.
Looking to even the game, West Haven saw the contest turn around quickly. Failing to catch a loose puck in the air, Shepard batted the puck down where Unker calmly beat the West Haven goaltender with a shorthanded goal for a 2-0 lead just 16 seconds into West Haven’s power play.
“That one was a tough one to give up,” Morrell said. “We had two or three guys there watching the puck and their guy puts it in.”
West Haven’s best scoring opportunity of the opening period came with 2:40 remaining and the Westies on the power play. Both Troiano and Hansen were denied in front off a scramble by Riley Wikman to keep the Westies off the scoreboard.
Looking to strike quickly in the second period, the Westies would see it was not going to be their night just 12 seconds into the middle period. Defenseman Kyle Leyerzapf lost an edge and fell inside West Haven’s blue line, allowing Unker to break in alone on Shepard. Unker recorded the natural hat trick when his shot sailed between the legs of Shepard for a 3-0 Fairfield Prep lead.
“It was 2-0 after one and they scored right away in the second,” Morrell said. “Our second and third lines needed to shut them down and our first line needed to score.”
West Haven’s best scoring opportunity came four minutes into the middle period when Brandon Cangiano’s shot from the left faceoff circle was denied by Riley Wikman.
The Jesuits picked up the rebound, skated up ice and watched as Unker passed to White. White deked Shepard and scored for a 4-0 lead with a 4:15 gone by in the second period.
Riley Wikman came up with his third and final save of the period in the final two minutes when he denied Adam Mink from the high slot.
The Jesuits closed the scoring with two goals in a span of 1:06 of the third period. The goals by Conor Peterson and Dean Lockery ended the night for Shepard as he was replaced by Forrest Schell with 10:09 remaining.
Westies fall to Simsbury with Fairfield Prep looming
By MIKE MADERA
Special thanks to Callan McKeon who contributed to this story
WEST HAVEN (January 11, 2012) – West Haven coach Joe Morrell knew the importance of Wednesday evening’s game against Simsbury.
With the likes of Fairfield Prep and Hamden approaching on the schedule, the Westies felt Wednesday was a game they had to have.
Playing a Simsbury team which was starting to come into its own after losing its first five games of the year, the Westies saw how improved the Trojans are. Scoring three unanswered goals, the Trojans stunned the Westies 3-1 at the Edward L. Bennett Rink.
“It did not come at a good time,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said of the loss. “They won their last two games. We talked about it before the game. With the games we have coming up, we needed to be ready to go. This was a set up game.”
West Haven had its share of scoring opportunities in the game but could not put the puck in the net. After Austin Hansen hit the post 1 minute, 58 seconds into the game on a West Haven power play, the Westties scored their only goal of the game five minutes later.
Kyle Leyerzapf sent a perfect cross-ice pass to Adam Mink who quickly fired on net. Mink’s shot beat Simsbury goalie John Ryan for a 1-0 lead.
“It was a big goal for us,” Morrell said. “We did not get a lot of rebound shots after that. They were right at them with no rebounds.”
The Westies never scored again despite having 32 shots in the game. Dan Granfield had his shot from the point stopped by Ryan and Alex Scranton’s point shot just sailed wide with seven minutes to go in the period.
West Haven’s best scoring opportunity in the second period came late and was off the stick of Leyerezapf. The senior defenseman was denied on his initial shot with 3:45 remaining in the period and was stymied on the rebound as well.
Mike Troiano also had his opportunities. The senior sniper could not convert as he was denied twice on breakaways.
The Trojans capitalized on West Haven’s offensive woes. The Trojans wasted no time evening the game when Jordan Radin beat Shepard off assists from Sam Coburn and Ryan Carpenter just 57 seconds into the middle period.
“They tied the game with a fluke goal,” Morrell said. “It just happened to be one of those goals. Then they go ahead and how many times do we have to keep coming back. It catches up to you.”
Just 5:03 into the third period, Simsbury led for good. Carpenter beat Shepard to give the Trojans a 2-1 lead and Simsbury never looked back, winning its third straight game.
Despite some big saves by Shepard in the second period and a breakaway save in the third, West Haven never built off the momentum. The Trojans added an empty-net goal by Carpenter with 20 seconds remaining to seal the game.
“We have to start getting ready for Prep,” Morrell said of Wednesday’s game against the Jesuits. “We have to put this behind us.”
The Trojans had to deal with an injury as Ryan left the game and was replaced by Andrew Severel in goal.
Shepard finished with 25 saves for the Westies while Ryan and Several combined for 31 saves.
Westies hold on to defeat East Haven
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (January 7, 2012) – West Haven coach Joe Morrell told his team all week East Haven was a scrappy team which never gives up. If his players did not believe him, they got a first hand look Saturday afternoon.
Leading by three goals, the Westies watched as East Haven rallied to within one goal before the Westies hung on for a 4-3 victory at the Edward L. Bennett Rink. The battle of Top 10 teams saw West Haven improve to 6-1, while East Haven fell to 6-1-1.
“We came out strong and scored three goals right away,” Morrell said. “We knew East Haven was not going to give up. We told the kids all week they were not going to give up. We had some opportunities we did not capitalize on and they came back.”
Leading 3-2 after two periods of play, and having killed four penalties, West Haven was tested in the third period. After East Haven could not cash in early in the period, West Haven took a 4-2 lead when Mike Troiano set up Austin Hansen who beat East Haven goaltender Zac Bouve with 2 minutes, 47 seconds gone by.
“I thought we tightened up defensively after the first period,” East Havenacting head coach Ben Fronte said. “We had some opportunities. If we were better in the offensive zone, this might have been a different game.”
West Haven goaltender Justin Shepard denied East Haven’s Stephen Marsico with a pad save with nine minutes remaining then stopped him twice more within one minute. Bouve was just as good as he denied Troiano on a breakaway with 2:05 remaining.
The Yellow Jackets made the game closer with 15 seconds remaining in the game. Rich Decarlo beat Shepard off an assist from Matt Longobardi but West Haven held on for the victory.
“It is good to be six and one,” Morrell said. “We are in the tough part of our schedule and we have some battles coming up.”
The Westies applied the pressure from the start of the game and showed no signs of slowing down in the first period. After Adam Mink hit the post just one minute into the game, the Westies scored three times in a span of 5 minutes, 49 seconds.
Kyle Leyerzapf picked up a loose puck and fired a wrist shot by Bouve 3:34 into the game. Just 2:45 later, the Westies had a 2-0 lead.
Leyerzapf sent a perfect pass to Mink at center ice. Mink raced in and had his initial shot stopped by Bouve before picking up the rebound for a 2-0 lead.
“This was a big game for us,” Leyerzapf said after scoring once and adding two assists. “We knew they wanted to come in here and take us out. We wanted to make a statement that we are for real.
“We want to get in (state tournament) as quick as possible and try and get a home game. We are shooting for eight, then get as many wins after that.”
After Shepard denied Longobardi’s shot and rebound, the Westies took a 3-0 lead. Just 19 seconds into a man advantage, Josh Robichaud’s shot from in close beat Bouve for a 3-0 advantage with 5:37 remaining in the opening period.
East Haven got closer with 3:46 left in the first period as Frank Latella’s point shot was deflected between the legs of Shepard by Marsico.
“I thought we played well with a man down,” Morrell said after his team killed four penalties in the game. “We did not give up any great opportunities.”
East Haven came out flying in the second period and applied most of the pressure early. The Yellow Jackets got closer when Decarlo took the initial shot then knocked in the rebound with three minutes remaining in the middle period.
Both teams had their chances in the second period. Troiano had a chance to increase the lead to three goals but his wrist shot hit off the glove of Bouve and sailed just wide 2:20 into the period.
Troiano’s best opportunity to increase the lead came with 5:25 remaining in the period. Hansen fed Troiano, who was all alone in front of a wide open net, but the puck skipped over his stick.
East Haven had opportunities as well. Decarlo was stopped by Shepard’s pad save seven minutes in, Tritian Goodwin was denied with a blocker save and Marsico hit the post with 6:05 to go.
Westies rally to defeat Tigers
By MIKE MADERA
NORTHFORD (January 4, 2012) – Just 1 minute, 8 seconds into the second period, the West Haven hockey team was looking for a spark. Hand’s Ryan DeMatteo had just scored and the Westies were trailing by three goals.
Enter goaltender Justin Shepard. The senior goaltender replaced Forrest Schell between the pipes and made 18 saves as the Westies rallied twice from two-goal deficits to defeat Hand-Madison 5-4 at the Northford Ice Pavilion Wednesday afternoon.
“It is good for him,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said of Shepard after his team improved to 5-1. “He needed a boost. He only gave up one goal and came up big for us. He made some key saves and kept us in the game.”
While Shepard was keeping the Tigers off the scoreboard, West Haven rallied. The Westies came out for the second period with a lot more energy, scoring three times. While Hand scored twice and led 4-3, the Westies had the momentum going into the third period.
West Haven had a golden chance to even the game, but Mike Troiano was stoned in front by Hand goaltender Dan Tagliarini. The Westies needed just 4:27 to even the game.
Adam Mink was alone in front when he skated to a loose puck. Mink’s shot snuck by Tagliarini and evened the game at four with 10:33 remaining in the third period.
“We just wanted to keep battling,” Morrell said. “We came out very flat. We just said we are not good enough to just show up on the ice and think we can beat anyone because we have the Blue Devil on our jersey.”
West Haven then saved its best for last. Mink dug out a loose puck in the corner and found Dan Granfield at the right point. Granfield’s quick shot beat Tagliarini with 1:25 remaining to give the Westies the victory.
“The team never called it quits,” Granfield said. “We came back as hard as ever. I was just trying to keep it in and I was looking for a rebound.
“This is a huge win for us. There is a big difference between five and one and four and two. Hopefully, we can carry this into the East Haven game.”
Hand ended Schell’s day early in the second period, scoring just 1:08 in on the first shot for a 3-0 lead. DeMatteo tipped a shot in front past Schell, bringing Shepard into the game.
The Westies were rejuvenated a short time later. On the power play, Josh Robichaud picked up a rebound of an Austin Hansen shot and beat Tagliarini to cut the deficit to 3-1 with 3:01 gone by in the middle period.
Shepard was sharp early, denying Mike Deane on a breakaway, Mitchell Brown from the circle and Nico Capone on a backhand off a rebound with 9:55 to go in the period.
“I go into every game ready to play and help my team,” Shepard said. “There was definitely pressure. I did not want to let any up. I wanted to keep the team in it. It is a great feeling.”
The Westies responded as Troiano fed Kyle Leyerzapf in front. Leyerzapf wasted no time beating Tagliarini with 8:15 remaining in the middle period to cut the deficit to 3-2.
Deane finally solved Shepard with a shot from the point with 5:22 remaining in the period and Tagliarini denied Mink on a two-on-one break with Hansen 10 seconds later.
“We showed some heart,” Morrell said.
West Haven got closer with 1:17 remaining in the middle period. Mink circled around in front and beat Tagliarini with an unassisted goal.
The Tigers set the tone right from the start of the game as they peppered Schell early and never stopped in the opening period. By the time the period had ended, Hand led the Westies 2-0.
West Haven opened the game with the best scoring opportunity as Troiano was denied on a breakaway by Tagliarini just three minutes in. The Tigers had a breakaway of their own 2 minutes, 18 seconds later and took advantage.
Playing a man down with Joe Deane in the penalty box, DeMatteo sent Brown on a breakaway. Brown deked Schell, went to the backhand and beat the West Haven goaltender to the glove side for a 1-0 lead.
Despite numerous scoring opportunities, the Westies could not convert in the opening period. Tagliarini denied Troiano twice from in front within three minutes, stopped Leyerzapf from the point, Hansen in front and Wes Gambardella from the right circle.
Failing to score early hurt the Westies as the Tigers used a late goal to take a 2-0 lead. Picking up a loose puck, Capone spun around and beat Schell with six seconds remaining in the opening period to send the Westies to the intermission down a pair of goals.
Mink led West Haven with two goals and an assist while Leyerzapf added a goal and an assist.
Five Star Effort
Hansen scores 5 goals in victory over Amity
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (December 30, 2011) – With opposing teams starting to shadow Mike Troiano, West Haven head coach Joe Morrell was looking for someone to step up. Morrell may have found his man.
Scoring five times in the first two periods, Austin Hansen led the Westies to an 8-2 victory over Amity in the consolation game of the West Haven Christmas Tournament. The line of Hansen, Troiano and Adam Mink combined for 13 points in the game.
Hansen finished the game with five goals and an assist, Troiano had a goal and four assists and Mink had a pair of assists.
“We talked about getting the rebounds especially with Mike Troiano shooting and Adam Mink,” Morrell said. “It really paid off today. We had some great goals. We worked on it in practice.”
Playing probably its worst game of the year against North Haven two days earlier, West Haven came out of the gates quickly against the Spartans.
Hansen needed just 2 minutes, 34 seconds to get his banner day going when he picked up a rebound of Josh Robichaud’s shot and beat Amity goaltender Nick Nuzzolo for a 1-0 lead. Hansen extended the lead to 2-0 with 5:05 remaining in the opening period when he took a perfect pass from Troiano and beat Nuzzolo with a one-timer.
“We were really looking to bounce back after the tough loss to North Haven,” Hansen said. “We all felt we should have won the game. We just wanted to come out hard.
“We wanted to crash the net. Coach (Morrell) has been saying to get the rebounds. Coach has been telling us that in practice and it paid off.”
In between Hansen’s two goals, West Haven goaltender Forrest Schell was forced to make some quality saves in his initial start of the season. Schell denied Riley Hine after Hine took a perfect lead pass from Luke Sacramone with 6:34 remaining in the opening period.
“I thought he (Schell) played really well,” Morrell said of Schell. “He made the saves early then we had the five goals in the second period.”
Hansen and the Westies put the game away with five goals in the second period, including three in a span of 59 seconds. The junior gave the Westies a 3-0 lead when he again put in a rebound of a Robichaud shot 3:03 into the third period.
Just 32 seconds later, West Haven led 4-0 when Kyle Leyerzapf picked up a loose puck in the slot and beat Nuzzolo. Hansen extended the lead to 5-0 27 seconds later off an assist from Troiano.
“We got the quick ones and then put it away,” Morrell said. “We were able to go into the third period with a nice lead and it allowed us to get everyone in.”
Amity kept battling and cut into West Haven’s lead when Ryan Hauser beat Schell off an assist from Joe Bianchi with six minutes remaining in the middle period. Hansen’s fifth goal of the game, off an assist from Troiano, with 1:26 remaining in the period and Troiano’s goal 24 seconds later gave West Haven a 7-1 lead.
“To come back after not playing a good game against North Haven was big,” Morrell said. “We talked about it and played much better. We were able to put the puck in the net early.”
Amity’s Adam Shea cut the deficit to 7-2 in the third period but West Haven scored the final goal of the game. Brandon Cangiano scored off assists from Hansen and Robichaud with 10:48 remaining.
Schell finished the game with 20 saves and freshman Mike Savino made four saves. Nick Nuzzolo made 27 saves for Amity and Shane Gallagher finished with two.
Westies fail to score on the power play in loss to North Haven
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (December 28, 2011) – North Haven goaltender Mike Amarone knows he is the backbone of his team. The senior goaltender showed this Wednesday evening in the first game of the West Haven Christmas Tournament.
Making several outstanding saves throughout the game, including five when the Indians played two men short for a full two minutes, Amarone led his team to a 5-4 victory over the Westies.
“I can’t do it without the help of my defense,” Amarone said after kicking aside 23 West Haven shots. “Me and the defense work together well. I had a very clear view of the shots.”
Amarone was at his best with the Indians leading by a pair of goals and the Westies awarded a two-man advantage with Dylan VanBrammer and Mike Andreucci in the penalty box with 12 minutes, 6 seconds remaining in the third period.
Amarone denied Mike Troiano from in front, stopped Alex Scranton from the point and Kyle Leyerzapf from the slot. Amarone’s best save may have cone with 35 seconds remaining in the two-man advantage for West Haven when he denied Josh Robichaud from point blank range then Adam Mink from the slot.
“This was a very big game for us,” North Haven coach Tom Roche said after his team improved to 3-1. “It shows we can play with the really good teams.”
Just one minute after the penalty expired, North Haven put the game away. Andrew Babbidge picked up a rebound of Karl Anderson’s shot and beatWest Haven goaltender Justin Shepard with 9:06 remaining for a 5-2 North Haven lead.
“We had some chances on the power play but we did not finish,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said after his team fell to 3-1. “We had a couple of really good chances but it seemed like we panicked with the puck.”
The Westies got closer when Austin Hansen scored his second goal of the game with 7:06 remaining in the contest, but it was not enough. The Westies had a four-minute power play with 5:44 remaining but could not capitalize, going 0-for-8 with the man advantage in the contest.
“I thought the opportunities were there,” Morrell said. “He (Amarone) just came up with some big saves.”
The Indians took only six shots in the opening period but converted two into goals, the latter coming with 42 seconds remaining in the period to give North Haven a 2-1 lead.
Trailing 1-0, North Haven tied the game with 7:01 remaining in the opening period. Tyler DeMartin was alone in front as the puck from Andreucci glanced off his skate past Shepard to even the game at one.
The Indians would use the skates to their advantage in the last minute of the period. DeMartin’s initial shot was stopped by Shepard with a pad save but the rebound bounced off DeMartin’s skate into the net with 42 seconds to go in the first period, giving the Indians a one goal lead.
The opening period was controlled by the Westies who took nine shots on Amarone. West Haven’s only goal came with 6:09 gone by in the game when Hansen took a pass on the doorstep and one-timed a shot past Amarone for a 1-0 lead. Troiano and Adam Mink assisted on the lone West Haven goal of the period.
West Haven had its opportunities with two power plays in the first period but Amarone would not give in. The North Haven goaltender stopped Troiano from the right faceoff circle with 5:01 remaining in the period then denied the Westie sniper from the slot 55 seconds later.
North Haven again took advantage of poor puck control and positioning by the Westies in the second period, twice scoring in front of the goal. The Indians wasted no time extending their lead, scoring just 1:51 into the middle period.
Jimmy Piscitelli sent a perfect pass in front of Shepard which was deflected in by Kenny Broccoli for a 3-1 Indians’ lead. The two-goal advantage would be short-lived as the Westies struck back.
Just 11 seconds after Troiano’s pass to Kyle Leyerzapf could not be converted, the duo connected. Troiano’s cross-ice pass to Leyerzapf was one-timed past Amarone just as a North Haven penalty expired to cut the deficit to 3-2 with 7:04 remaining in the period.
Just 2:42 later, the Indians were up by a pair of goals again. Andrew Babbidge sent a pass from the corner in front which Karl Anderson one-timed past Shepard to the lower left corner for a 4-2 Indians’ lead.
West Haven had its opportunities in the period. After the Westies failed to score on two man power play opportunity, including a two-man advantage for 25 seconds, Hansen found himself alone in front of Amarone. Hansen’s one-timer was denied by a pad save from Amarone to preserve the two-goal lead.
Worth the Wait
Westies improve to 3-0 with win over Trinity Catholic
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (December 22, 2011) – The West Haven hockey team waited over an hour for Trinity Catholic to arrive for its game Wednesday evening. Turns out the Westies could have waited all night for the Crusaders to get out of traffic.
Scoring twice in the first period and adding two more goals in each of the final two periods, the Westies defeated the Crusaders 6-2 at the Edward L. Bennett Rink. The win allowed the Westies to start the season with three straight wins.
“I kept telling the kids as bad as it is for us, they have been on the bus for two and a half hours,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said. “I am a man of routine. That took us out of our routine but fortunately it did not affect us.”
Mike Troiano continued his torrid start to the season with three goals and two assists, giving him ten points on the season. Troiano has eight goals through three games.
“We wanted to be 3-0 at the Christmas break,” Troiano said. “We have worked hard. I feel like we have things to work on, but we are getting better.”
Austin Hansen played well, scoring twice and Kyle Leyerzapf added two assists. It was Leyerzapf who got the team going early in the contest.
“We were able to stay loose,” Leyerzapf said of the delay. “We got the quick goals. It was important we got on them early.”
The Westies dominated play in the first period, holding a 13-3 shot advantage and scoring twice. After Leyerzapf was stopped from the point and Hansen was denied by Trinity Catholic goaltender Brian Romano less than two minutes later, the Westies finally capitalized.
Leyerzapf sent Troiano in alone on Romano from the blue line and Troiano deked Romano before using the backhand to the top left corner for a 1-0 lead with 8 minutes, 2 seconds remaining in the period.
“The first goal was big,” Morrell said. “It could have easily been four or five nothing but we got the two goals.”
The Westies did not stop the pressure and added a second goal with 4:19 remaining in the opening period. Off a faceoff in Trinity Catholic’s end of the ice, Peter Lynn poked in a loose puck, with assists going to Leyerzapf and Jim Morrissey.
“Kyle controls things out there,” Morrell said. “He is like a quarterback on the ice. He never stops talking and that is a good thing. We want all our guys to communicate like that.”
The Crusaders wasted no time getting back in the game as they scored just 2:18 into the middle period. Justin Brown was alone in front and beat West Haven goaltender Justin Shepard to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Shepard would be busy in the second period as he was forced to make 10 saves. Shepard’s best save came with 1:45 remaining in the period as he denied Tim Keane from in front.
While Shepard was doing his part between the pipes, the Westies gave him room to breathe with a pair of goals in the final ten minutes.
Troiano picked up a loose puck off the boards and skated in front where he beat Romano for an unassisted goal with 9:49 remaining. After Hansen was denied on a short-handed breakaway by Romano with a pad save, the Westies took a 4-1 lead.
Troiano found Hansen alone in front and Hansen did the rest. Hansen quickly flicked the puck past Romano for an easy goal and a three goal lead.
“Those were big goals,” Morrell said. “They gave us some breathing room.”
The Westies had plenty of scoring opportunities in the final period. After Mink was denied from the slot and stopped on an odd-man rush with Troiano, the Westies added two more goals.
Troiano completed his hat trick with 9:38 remaining as he took a perfect lead pass from Dan Granfield and broke in on Romano. Troiano’s wrist shot sailed into the top right corner for a 5-1 lead.
The Westies closed the scoring with 4:01 remaining. Troiano picked up his fifth point of the game when he set up Hansen for a 6-1 lead.
Leyerzapf’s goal lifts Westies in Overtime
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (December 17, 2011) – Trailing by three goals in the second period and looking nothing like a team which shut out Greenwich in the season opener, the West Haven hockey team needed a spark against Darien. Senior forward Mike Troiano provided that spark.
Troiano not only cut the deficit in half in the second period, but he used two highlight reel goals in the third period to force overtime. Kyle Leyerzapf ripped in the game-winner with 2 minutes, 52 seconds remaining in the extra session as the Westies came from behind and defeated Darien 6-5 at the Edward L. Bennett Rink Saturday afternoon.
“We had to find our groove in the game, Troiano said after scoring three times. “We were coming off a victory over Greenwich. We knew all along we could come back. We never got down. We felt we could win.”
Trailing 5-3 in the third period, West Haven (2-0) was running out of time after failing to score on a two-man advantage. With 7:24 remaining, Troiano picked up a loose puck, made three different moves to beat the defense before beating Darien goaltender Max Rothston to cut the deficit to 5-4.
Just 1:23 later, Troiano was at it again. Sent in on a breakaway off a perfect pass from Leyerzapf, Troiano went to the backhand to beat Rothston and tie the game at five with 6:01 remaining in regulation.
“We played like pit bulls out there today,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said. “We did not stop even though we were down 4-1. We are a young team and we have a lot of players who have never been in that situation before. We could have packed it in but we didn’t.
“Mike had two great goals. We got some life and we kept it going. He scored two goals and the coaches looked at each other and just shook our heads. They were that kind of goals.”
Darien had the first three quality scoring opportunities in overtime but West Haven goaltender Justin Shepard came up big, denying Trent Bergin, Brendan Hathaway and Nick Bruno. Shepard finished the game with 25 saves to improve to 2-0 on the year.
Darien’s George Gregory was called for hooking with 4:07 remaining in overtime and West Haven capitalized. Josh Robichaud found a streaking Leyerzapf coming through the zone and Leyerzapf’s one-timer ripped past Rothston to set off the wild celebration.
“This is huge,” Leyerzapf said. “We wanted to make a statement today. We did it by coming back. This guy over here (Troiano) played absolutely ridiculous today. We can’t thank this guy enough for what he did today and does all the time.”
Things did not start off well for the Westies. After Adam Mink’s apparent goal was denied five minutes into the contest, Darien scored twice within 1:20 to take a 2-0 lead. Bergin set up Hathaway who beat Shepard with 5:27 remaining in the opening period and Jack Knowlton followed with a goal with 4:07 remaining to give the Blue Wave a 2-0 lead.
West Haven looked to cut into the deficit to start the second period but the Blue Wave had other ideas. Bruno picked up a loose puck and beat Shepard just 24 seconds into the period for a 3-0 Darien lead.
“The first period was awful,” Morrell said. “We did not cover anyone and we did not play hockey. We have to hit people. When we did, the tide changed.”
The Westies used the power play to get on the board. After scoring just once in nine power play opportunities against Greenwich, West Haven capitalized on its first man advantage of the game.
Hansen set up Mink who one-timed a shot past Rothston to cut the deficit to 3-1 just 3:24 into the period. That momentum was short-lived as Knowlton scored for Darien to give the Blue Wave a 4-1 lead 1:09 later.
Troiano got the Westies closer with a breakaway goal 1:45 after Knowlton’s tally as he took a perfect lead pass from Mink. Morrissey followed 1:10 later with an unassisted goal to cut the deficit to 4-3 and Gregory’s goal with 4:46 left in the middle period sent the Blue Wave to the final period with a 5-3 lead.
The line of Hansen, Troiano and Mink finished the game with four goals and three assists. Hansen had two assists, Mink had a goal and an assist and Troiano had three goals. Leyerzapf finished with a goal and an assist in the victory.
Knowlton led Darien with two goals and an assist, while Gregory had a goal and two assists. Rothston made 24 saves in the loss for the Blue Wave.
Top line leads Westies to season opening victory
By MIKE MADERA
GREENWICH (December 15, 2011) – West Haven coach Joe Morrell reminded his team before the season opener against Greenwich there was only one first game of the year. Morrell encouraged his team to make the most of the initial contest.
Morrell’s team heard his words. Scoring once in each of the first two periods and adding three more in the third period, West Haven opened the season with a 5-0 victory over Greenwich at Dorothy Hamill Rink.
“There is only one first game,” Morrell said. “We did not want to be 0-1. Greenwich has a lot of young kids. We were able to put a lot of shots on goal.”
West Haven’s defense played very well, not allowing any traffic in front of goaltender Justin Shepard. Shepard rewarded his team by making 21 saves in posting the shutout.
“Our four defensemen played really well,” Morrell said. “Justin played really well. He was sharp. He did what he had to do.”
West Haven’s top line, called the White Line, was involved in four of the five goals, with Mike Troiano leading the way with a pair of goals. Austin Hansen, Adam Mink and Jim Morrissey, who was on the top line during a West Haven power play, all played well in the opening contest.
“It was very important to get off to the quick start,” Troiano said. “We wanted to jump on them right off the bat. We got the jitters out.
“It’s always good to get the first goal of the season. Shep (Shepard) played a phenomenal game. It was a great start.”
Leading 2-0 after two periods, the Westies put the game away with two goals within 32 seconds in the third period. Hansen set up the first goal of the period when his shot was stopped by Greenwich goaltender Vinny Scorese but Mink knocked in the rebound 3 minutes, 25 seconds into the final period.
“We put the puck on net,” Morrell said. “We had 45 shots. We did a lot of good things. We moved the puck very well.”
Just 32 seconds later, West Haven led 4-0. Kyle Leyerzapf sent Troiano in on a breakaway and Troiano wasted no time beating Scorese. Freshman Jake Lynch rounded out the scoring with 25 seconds left in the game with assists going to Peter Lynn and Donny Froehlich.
“This game was huge,” Mink said. “We were looking for a good start. We wanted to get into a rhythm. Last year we had the older (Ryan) Hansen on our line and this year we have the younger one (Austin). It was a good start.”
The Westies dominated the opening period, thanks in part to four power play opportunities. West Haven put 15 shots on goal in the opening period and finally cracked Scorese with 5:56 remaining.
On their second power play of the period, the Westies used a nice play by defenseman Josh Robichaud to score the game’s first goal. Robichaud threw the puck on goal off the boards and Scorese made the initial save.
The rebound came out front where Morrissey pounced on the rebound and beat Scorese for a 1-0 lead.
The Westies put the pressure on early in the first period as Troiano was stopped in front by Scorese three minutes in. Troiano received a nice pass from Leyerzapf while the Westies were short-handed and was again denied by Scorese with five minutes gone by.
Troiano had another opportunity but rang a shot off the post with 3:20 remaining in the opening period. The excellent puck movement of the Westies continued in the final ten seconds as Mink set up Leyerzapf for a one-timer but the defenseman was denied by Scorese.
While the Westies scored only once in its first six power play opportunities, they controlled play again in the second period, putting another 15 shots on goal. After Scorese stopped Morrissey early and Troiano a few minutes later on a partial breakaway, the Westies took a 2-0 lead.
With both teams one man down, West Haven won the faceoff in the Greenwich end. Morrissey set up Troiano who beat Scorese to the top left corner for a 2-0 lead.
“It was big,” Morrell said of the goal. “I thought we were able to do some good things out there.”
The Westies moved the puck well on offense and they were just as good protecting Shepard. The senior goaltender needed to make only six saves in the middle period, with the biggest one coming with 9:48 remaining as he denied Brett Backman with a great leg save to keep the Westies in front by a goal.
Ready to Go
Despite question marks, Westies ready for new season
By MIKE MADERA
Time has passed since the West Haven hockey team fell to Hamden in the first round of the CIAC state tournament. With a new cast of characters, the Westies are looking to return to the postseason once again.
Losing five seniors to graduation, there are questions regarding the 2011-2012 team. The most pressing one may be who will replace the graduated J.P. Withington in goal.
Withington was a steady force between the pipes and that chore now rests on the shoulders of either seniors Justin Shepard or Forest Schell.
The two have battled in the preseason and the leader of the two will need to be a rock in goal for the Westies to duplicate the twelve wins of a year ago. Freshman Mike Savino is playing well and he also may be in the mix.
“With J.P., we knew what we had,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said. “We need to make the saves we are supposed to make. We can’t give up rebounds and we have to clear the front of the net.”
This year’s team will be led by senior captains Adam Mink and Kyle Leyerzapf and assistant captains Mike Troiano and Josh Robichaud. With a young team, Morrell is counting on his captains to lead the way.
“Adam and Kyle will have to do a lot,” Morrell said of his captains. “All four will see a lot of ice time. Mike Troiano is someone we will look to put the puck in the net and Adam Mink is just a good all around player.
“They will have to be smart with their ice time. That will be a big part of it. They can’t stay out there all at once. Time management will be very important.”
Austin Hansen, seen here against Hamden last season, will need to come up big on West Haven's top line this season. Photo courtesy of Russ McCreven.
Mink will lead the way on the first line at his wing position along with Troiano at center and junior wing Austin Hansen. That line, named the White Line, will be expected to carry the load this season.
“They are going to be called upon a lot this year,” Morrell said of his top line. “Last year, two of them were on the first line so they know what it is going to be like. They have to work through it and not get frustrated.”
The second line, called the Blue Line, will have two youngsters and a veteran as sophomore Jim Morrissey will center a line of junior Brandon Cangiano and sophomore Jaeson Puleo.
The third line, called the Red Line, will see sophomore Peter Lynn center a line with freshman Jake Lynch at one wing and a battle of senior Wes Gambardella, sophomore Matt Kelly and freshman Kevin Coyle for the other wing position.
“The second line is really going to have to work hard,” Morrell said. “They will have to keep working the whole year. They can not get dominated. They need to get the puck out of the zone and need to play smart.”
While the offense will blend in youth with some veterans, the defense will have to be strong to anchor the back end. Leyerzapf will lead this group which also includes Robichaud.
Leyerzapf will team with sophomore Alex Scranton as the first defensive pair, while Robichaud will pair with senior Dan Granfield as the second tandem. Freshman Don Froehlich and sophomore Joe Ayala are a third pair while sophomore Coleman Walsh and freshman Devin Hines will also battle for time.
“Our goal is to make the state tournament,” Morrell said. “We want to win eight games and get better every game. We want to get deep into the playoffs and match last year’s record. We won twelve games last season and that was nice for us. We have to play hard and smart.
“We need to get the puck out of our end. The big thing is we need to play hard and smart. We are working hard. We also have to stay healthy.”
West Haven opens the season on the road against Greenwich, Thursday evening, December 15, at 8 p.m.
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