Back on the Ice
Team chemistry key for Westies
By MIKE MADERA
(February 1, 2021) - So much has changed since the West Haven boys hockey team last left the ice in Danbury a year ago. Following a win over Immaculate in the regular season finale, the Westies were prepared to travel south down I-95 to face Greenwich in the opening round of the CIAC state tournament.
Before that could happen, the world as we know it forever changed. The start of a global pandemic hit, cancelling the rest of the postseason and the spring sports season as well.
After an abbreviated fall season, the winter sports teams will follow suit, playing 12 games and a conference tournament afterwards.
“We need to take advantage of the opportunity that is given to us in a shortened season,” second-year coach Steve Harris said. “Every player has to know that with what happened last year for the playoffs, they have to be ready to go every shift of every period of every game.”
Nick Boanno (23) and the Westies are ready for the 2021 season. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
For West Haven, plenty has changed. Nine seniors graduated, leaving plenty of holes to fill, especially in goal with the departure of Jared Pliszka, on defense with the graduations of Robbie Forleo, Sean Dupre and Colin Hines, and on offense with Kaden Morgillo, Richie Greene, Kevin Moriarty and Nick Carfora also gone by way of graduation.
Much may have been lost, but the Westies return several top players from an 11-8-1 squad of a season ago. Seniors (captain) Nick Boanno, Michael Kelly, and Conner Fowler, juniors Ryan Bernardi, Nico Bruneau, and Mike Alfano, and brothers Ben (sophomore) and D.J. (junior) Carfora return to lead what could be a top offensive unit.
“We can score and we have speed,” Harris said. “Those are huge factors. We have very good team speed and we can throw solid lines out there.”
Harris will also have a strong group of seven freshmen to build around with defensemen Yousaf Ullah, Jason Alling and Haygen Axelrod, and forwards Marcus Burrows, Jayden Spreyer, and Michael Madera. Javed Ullah will serve as the team’s backup in goal.
“I have liked the flow of practice so far,” Harris said. “We have a unique team chemistry. The incoming freshmen have not missed a beat, and they have shown the intensity and drive that they want to be here. We have not missed a beat from last year in executing with the incoming freshmen.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of teamwork. The younger kids have to follow the veterans, and the veterans have to teach the young kids. They are going to have to fill the roles we lost.”
While nothing is set in stone as far as offensive lines early in camp, look for the Carfora brothers, Boanno and Bruneau to anchor the top two lines with Alfano, Kelly and Bernardi. Fowler will be in the mix and Harris will have a freshmen group to plug in as well with Burrows, Spreyer and Madera.
Defensively, the Westies return a solid trio at the blue line in senior assistant captain Ryan Smith and juniors Joe D’Aurio and Anthony Peschell. Sophomore Zach Forbes will also be in the mix for a bulk of playing time on the defensive side.
Harris again will also have to turn to youth on the defensive side as the freshmen trio of Yousaf Ullah, Alling and Axelrod will be looked to for quality minutes.
“Joe (D’Aurio), (Anthony) Peschell, and Smitty (Ryan Smith) are all solid back there,” Harris said. “We will be looking to three rookies to fill the spots we lost in very good players in Robbie Forleo, Sean Dupre, and Colin Hines. Those are big losses and big shoes to fill. Robbie was an All-State player and Sean was an All-League player. That’s tough.”
The key for the Westies may be in goal where senior Charlie Miller takes over the helm between the pipes for his senior campaign. Miller has looked impressive early and will need to be on his game throughout if the Westies are going to have a solid season. Freshman Javed Ullah will also be learning under Miller.
“I like what I see,” Harris said. “I knew he (Miller) would step up. He has been looking forward to this being his net. We had Jared (Pliszka) and it was not hard to play Jared all the time last year. He was that good. Charlie can be just as good. I really believe that. He will definitely win some games for us.
“Javed (Ullah) has been watching Charlie Miller work. He has worked with our goalie coach. We feel comfortable where he is at.”
A twelve game season will be something new for all teams. Each team will make the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament for a chance to win the title.
The league has also announced an early exit in the tournament will also allow for extra games to give the players at least 14 or 15 games on the year.
“Our goal is to win the SCC tournament,” Harris said. “We always strive for the states and to win that. Without a state tournament, we want to be one of the top teams in the SCC finals.”
A lot has to happen for the Westies to reach the SCC finals, including navigating through a season which includes mandatory wearing of masks, mask breaks in the fourth, eighth, and twelfth minutes of each period, and a Covid-free season.
“There are plenty of changes we will have to become accustomed to,” Harris said. “We have to wear the masks. We have to be willing to change and adapt to play. We will do so and move forward. For us, it is business as usual on the ice. We will go at it as normal. I am one hundred percent happy with what I have seen so far.”
West Haven opens the regular season Monday, February 8 when it plays host to Hamden at 6 p.m. at the Edward L. Bennett Rink. Details regarding fan attendance will be announced soon.
Westies top Hamden
Boanno, Miller lead the way in 5-2 victory
By MIKE MADERA
(February 8, 2021) - WEST HAVEN – It has been a long 11 months for the high school hockey community. With the shutdown of high school sports due to the global pandemic right before the start of last year’s state tournament, Monday evening across the state was welcomed with open arms.
Throw in a good old-fashioned hockey rivalry, and the winter sports season has officially begun. That was the case in West Haven when Hamden and West Haven renewed acquaintances at the Edward L. Bennett Rink in the season opener for both teams.
Behind two goals from senior Nick Boanno, a goal and two assists from sophomore Ben Carfora, a goal and three assists from junior D.J. Carfora, and 30 saves from senior Charlie Miller, West Haven topped Hamden 5-2 In a Southern Connecticut Conference Division I contest.
“Any time you open the season with a win against Hamden, it is a good night,” West Haven coach Steve Harris said.
Ben Carfora (11) and Mike Alfano (90) celebrate Alfano's goal in West Haven's 5-2 victory over Hamden, February 8, 2020. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
After a first period which saw Hamden control a majority of the play, West Haven turned the tide in the second period, scoring twice to take a 3-1 lead.
Ben Carfora gave the Westies their first lead of the game when he took a pass from his older brother D.J. Carfora and beat Hamden goalie Ben Bielen with 4:51 gone by in the second period.
“We are an inexperienced team, but once we scored were able to keep going at them,” Ben Carfora said. “I thought we had the momentum and the play in the second period. Once we got our legs going and the butterflies out, I thought we played well.”
West Haven kept the pressure on, holding an 11-5 shot advantage in the second period, and took a 3-1 lead when Boanno raced down the left wing and beat Bielen to the top right corner with 7:37 remaining in the middle period. D. J. Carfora and freshman Jason Alling assisted on the goal.
“Obviously, it is better any time you are playing with the lead,” Harris said. “You never want to start down, but a big part was we threw the freshmen right into the fire right off the bat. They had to get the feel of it. They adapted very well.”
Hamden’s best scoring opportunity came with just over seven minutes remaining in the second, but West Haven’s Miller turned aside a sharp shot by junior Anthony Malonis.
“He was unbelievable,” Harris said of Miller. “He stepped right in for (graduated) Jared Pliszka. He made some big stops several times. He got a little more confidence with every save.”
The Green Dragons cut into the West Haven lead when Bryce Riccitelli scored an unassisted goal 3:53 into the third, but West Haven bounced right back.
“It was baptism by fire for a lot of the kids,” Hamden coach Todd Hall said. “There were a lot of good things that happened out there tonight. I thought we out chanced them, but they were able to capitalize. There is a lot to build off this.”
West Haven needed just 1:16 to once again take a two-goal lead when D.J. Carfora scored off an assist from Ben Carfora. The Westies capped the scoring 1:13 later when Boanno scored his second of the game off assists from Nico Bruneau and Anthony Peschell.
Hamden controlled the pace in the opening period despite the two teams playing to a 1-1 tie after 15 minutes.
The Green Dragons put the pressure on early as Riccitelli and Bode Becker each had shots turned aside before Jesse Fracasso buried a rebound between the legs of Miller. Kellen Sargolini and Aidan Ragusa each assisted on the opening tally with 4:26 gone by in the opening period.
The lead lasted only 1:19 as West Haven put the pressure on and scored when Mike Alfano roofed a shot past Bielen with 4:45 gone by in the game. Ben Carfora and D.J. Carfora each assisted on West Haven’s first goal of the season.
Hamden held a 14-8 shot advantage in the opening period, but West Haven had two quality shots turned away when D.J. Carfora was turned aside in front with seven minutes to go and Bruneau had his re-directed shot denied as well.
Westies trounced by Fairfield
WH falls to 1-1 with 9-1 loss
By MIKE MADERA
(February 10, 2021) - After a solid team effort to open the season against Hamden, the West Haven boys hockey team was looking to duplicate the effort against Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe Wednesday evening. That effort never came.
Falling behind quickly and allowing three goals in each period, West Haven fell 9-1 at the Edward L. Bennett Rink in West Haven Wednesday evening. With the loss, the Westies fell to 1-1 on the season.
Nico Bruneau (88) scored the lone West Haven goal in a 9-1 loss against Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe, February 10, 2021. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
West Haven’s only goal came in the second period down 4-0. Nico Bruneau scored the lone goal for West Haven when he found the back of the net off assists from Nick Boanno and Mike Kelly with 5:07 gone by in the second.
That was as close as the Westies would get as Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe scored twice more in the second and added three in the third for the 9-1 final.
Charlie Miller made 30 saves and Javed Ullah made five in the loss for West Haven.
Fairfield Prep blanks Westies
WH falls to 1-2 with 5-0 loss
By MIKE MADERA
(February 17, 2021) - With a week off between contests, the West Haven boys hockey team had plenty of time to work. While the Westies suffered their second straight defeat, a 5-0 loss to Fairfield Prep at the Edward L. Bennett Rink Wednesday evening, they looked much better in the process.
Ryan Smith and the Westies fell to Fairfield Prep 5-0, February 17, 2021. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Coming off a 9-1 thumping at the hands of Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe in its last contest, West Haven faced another formidable team in the Jesuits. Prep was in control from the start, peppering West Haven goalie Charlie Miller with 43 shots, on the way to the victory.
West Haven struggled to get anything going on offense, with its best scoring opportunity coming with a two-man advantage in the second period.
The Westies could not find the back of the net against Fairfield Prep goalie Tommy Martin and did not do so the remainder of the game as Martin finished with 17 saves in the shutout.
Miller blanks Indians
WH tops North Haven 3-0
By MIKE MADERA
(February 20, 2021) - While it is early in the season, the West Haven boys hockey team sure felt like it needed a big win. After losing a pair of lop-sided contests, West Haven traveled to Northford to play North Haven on Senior Night for the Indians.
Scoring once in the first period and two more in the third, West Haven rebounded with a 3-0 victory over the Indians. Senior goaltender Charlie Miller was the star of the show as he turned aside all 41 North Haven shots in posting his first career shutout as West Haven improved to 2-2.
Charlie Miller made 41 saves as West Haven topped North Haven, February 20, 2021. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
“Charlie Miller was unbelievable,” West Haven coach Steve Harris said. “He won the game for us.”
“I have been working on my angles and glove movement,” Miller said. “Coach Dillner has taught me a lot. I can’t thank him enough for all he has taught me.
“We had a few rough spots tonight, but my defense was able to clear the puck and we were able to take the lead. This feels really good. We need to build on it and make a run.”
Leading 1-0 in the third, the Westies gave Miller some insurance. After Miller made a point blank save on North Haven’s Jake Hines, freshman Michael Madera dumped the puck behind the North Haven net.
Junior Mike Alfano battled for the loose puck and fed freshman Jayden Spreyer. Spreyer used a backhander in front to beat North Haven goaltender Andrew Sacco with 11:51 remaining in the game.
With the Indians outshooting West Haven by a large margin in the game, Ben Carfora iced the contest with a backhander in front with 3:20 remaining. Carfora stripped the North Haven defense, then came in alone on Sacco before scoring an insurance tally.
“I thought it was a must-win game,” Harris said. “I thought we were outworked in the first period. We made some changes. We knew they were going to come out fired up to play us on their Senior Night. I thought we finally came together and played hockey like we have been practicing in the third period.”
West Haven’s Ben Carfora looked to give West Haven the lead in the opening period when he broke down the left wing, but his rising shot was turned aside by Sacco 3:22 in.
The Westies then opened the scoring in the first period despite being outshot 10-4. The best opportunities came from in close and that is where Nico Bruneau re-directed in a pass from D.J. Carfora just 3:40 into the contest for a 1-0 advantage.
The play started when freshman Jason Alling got the puck down low and D.J. Carfora made a move in the corner, before sending a pass in front which hit off Bruneau’s skate and in.
West Haven turned to Miller in the opening period as he turned aside 10 shots, including a shot in front by Will Fiore and another in front off the stick of Mason Sullivan. Sullivan then hit the cross bar on a breakaway with 1:02 remaining in the opening period after West Haven just finished killing a major penalty.
“Killing the five-minute major was huge,” Harris said. “You hope with that, you kill it and then the momentum switches like it did. We brought that into the second period.”
While there was no scoring in the middle period, the Westies picked up their play. Ben Carfora and Nick Boanno had the best scoring opportunities in the period, but both were turned aside by Sacco.
Ben Carfora saw his shot from the right faceoff circle turned aside 5:40 in, before Bruneau came in on a partial breakaway but could not capitalize with 7:36 left in the period. After Ryan Smith’s point shot was denied with 2:25 to go in the period, Boanno came in front from the slot, but Sacco came up big with a pad save to keep West Haven on top 1-0.
NDFF thumps Westies
WH drops to 2-3 with 7-2 loss
By MIKE MADERA
(February 22, 2021) - Looking to build off Saturday evening’s victory over North Haven, the West Haven boys hockey team wanted to set the tone early against Notre Dame-Fairfield.
While the Westies scored the opening goal of the game, the Lancers scored the next five, on the way to a dominant 7-2 victory over West Haven Monday evening at the Edward L. Bennett Rink. With the loss, West Haven fell to 2-3 on the year.
Ben Carfora scored twice in a 7-2 loss against Notre Dame-Fairfield, February 22, 2020. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Trailing by a goal to start the middle period, West Haven needed a good start. That start never happened as Notre Dame scored twice in the first 1:05 to take a 4-1 lead.
Both goals were nearly identical as Mike Ceneri poked in a loose puck in front, then Chase Carkner did the same, both over the outstretched glove of West Haven goaltender Charlie Miller.
When Tyler Bassett knocked in another goal off a rebound with 10:56 to go in the middle period, the Lancers held a 5-1 lead.
West Haven finally got some momentum going when Ben Carfora stole the puck along the boards, dipped his shoulder, and used the backhand to get the Westies within 5-2 with 9:47 left in the second. For Ben Carfora, it was his second goal of the game.
West Haven had another solid opportunity to cut the lead to two goals, but D.J. Carfora shot high over the net on a partial breakaway with 2:05 left in the period.
West Haven got on the scoreboard with some early pressure to start the game as the Lancers closed their hand on the puck in the crease. West Haven was awarded a penalty shot and Ben Carfora capitalized with a backhander past Notre Dame goaltender Reagin Gallagher for a 1-0 advantage.Despite holding a 16-13 shot advantage, West Haven trailed 2-1 at the intermission as the Lancers scored on the power play by Kevin Barrett with 7:51 left in the first, and another by Chase Carkner with 30.8 seconds left in the period.
8 in scoring column in 5-1 win over Immaculate
By MIKE MADERA
(February 27, 2021) - WEST HAVEN - Early in a pandemic season, there may not be many must-win contests. Do not tell that to the West Haven hockey team.
Behind a goal and an assist each from Ben Carfora, Nick Boanno and Nico Bruneau, and 18 saves from Charlie Miller, West Haven topped Immaculate-Danbury 5-1 in a Southern Connecticut Conference Division I contest at the Edward L. Bennett Rink Saturday afternoon.
“We had to get back to .500,” Boanno said. “After Monday’s loss, we knew we needed a better effort. I thought we did a good job. We cycled the puck well. We need to keep the momentum rolling to Monday (at Notre Dame-Fairfield).”
Ryan Bernardi (4) looks for an opportunity in front against Immaculate, February 27, 2021. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
West Haven was coming off a thorough beating at the hands of Notre Dame-Fairfield and had five days to practice what went wrong. A more physical and faster West Haven team scored once in the opening period and added three more in the second for a commanding 4-1 lead.
“We have been working hard in practice,” West Haven coach Steve Harris said. “The intensity was there. We had a good week of practice and took it into today. I am proud of the way we played.”
Leading by three goals, West Haven took control of the game 12 seconds into the third period when Nico Bruneau scored in front off an assist from Michael Kelly for a 5-1 lead.
“We had some good practices this week,” Bruneau said. “We worked on our power play and scored how we practiced. This was a huge game. I felt like it could have been bad for the season if we had lost.”
The pace of the game picked up in the middle period and the Westies capitalized with three goals, one coming while on the power play, for a 4-1 lead after 30 minutes of play.
West Haven scored twice on the power play in the game and did not allow an Immaculate goal with the extra man in three opportunities.
“We have been working on our power play in practice,” Boanno said. “We have been working on our systems and I thought we did them very well today.”
West Haven needed just 42 seconds of the middle period to take a 2-0 lead when Bruneau fed D.J. Carfora, who circled around and ripped a shot to the top corner for a two-goal advantage.
West Haven built a 3-0 lead 1:35 later when junior Mike Alfano found an open Mike Madera on the left wing. Madera skated in the Immaculate zone and beat goaltender Harrison Palmer low to the blocker side for the freshman’s first career goal.
Immaculate called timeout after the goal and the pause seemed to wake the Mustangs up as they started to apply the body.
The constant pressure paid off when Jeffney Peterson banged in a rebound past West Haven goaltender Charlie Miller, off assists from Malcolm Thompson and Timothy Hayden, with 6:56 to go in the second to cut the deficit to 3-1.
“We picked it up after that, but their goalie (Miller) played phenomenal,” Immaculate coach Brian Lugo said. “They clog the middle very well. Our shots were coming from the outside. We were missing and we were giving them break-out opportunities. We were setting them up.”
The game remained that way until the Westies went on the power play late in the second. This time. It was perfect passing from Ryan Bernardi to Boanno to Ben Carfora, which set up a one-timer by Ben Carfora past Palmer with 1:15 remaining in the second for a 4-1 advantage.
With a sloppy first period by both teams, West Haven finally took the lead on the power play with less than a minute to go in the opening stanza.
Ben Carfora won the draw over to Boanno, who skated in front and used a back-hander to beat Palmer with 29.5 seconds left in the period.
Boanno’s goal was the only dent in the scoreboard in the opening 15 minutes as Miller came up big with 8:50 to go, denying a one-timer by Immaculate junior Freddy Brasli with a dazzling glove save.
“I think that save in the first period was big and could have been the difference in the game,” Harris said. “We could have been down 1-0 and chasing them. He makes that saves and we get one late and it is a different game.”West Haven also had a golden opportunity earlier in the period, but Palmer turned aside a shot by Kelly who came in on a 2-on-1 rush with Boanno 3:09 into the contest.
Two in a Row
WH improves to 4-3 with 6-4 win over NDFF
By MIKE MADERA
(March 1, 2021) - The West Haven boys hockey team won its second consecutive contest with a 6-4 victory over Notre Dame-Fairfield in Shelton Monday afternoon.
A week after getting thumped by the Lancers, the Westies received a goal and two assists from Ben Carfora, a goal and an assist from Anthony Peschell, two assists each from Nico Bruneau and Nick Boanno, and 25 saves from Charlie Miller to improve to 4-3 on the year.
With Notre Dame-West Haven next on the schedule for the Westies, they will have four days to get ready for the high-powered Green Knights.
West Haven had eight players in the scoring column and needed just 25 seconds into the game to get on the scoreboard when Peschell took a feed from Bruneau and scored from the point.
Brian Essing evened the game for the Lancers with a short-handed tally with 3:25 left in the opening period to wipe away a solid first period by the Westies.
The Lancers took a 2-1 lead 2:33 into the second when Tyler Bassett took the puck off the boards and beat West Haven goaltender Charlie Miller. That was the last lead of the game for Notre Dame as West Haven scored the next three goals in the second period for a 4-2 advantage.
Carfora took over as he took a pass from Boanno, spun around in the slot, and ripped a shot to the top corner 1:16 later. Michael Kelly gave West Haven the lead for good when he threw the puck in front of the net, where it deflected off a skate and in with 1:37 left in the middle period.
West Haven was not done. Mike Alfano poked in a loose puck in front with 28.1 seconds left in the second off assists from Carfora and Bruneau for a 4-2 lead.
Miller then came up big in the third period. The senior goaltender denied Tim Finkenzeller on a breakaway with 2;30 gone by in the third, before turning aside a shot by Matt Newton 20 seconds later.
The Westies gave Miller some cushion, scoring their second power play goal of the game with 9:38 remaining. Off assists from Boanno and Peschell, Ryan Bernardi fired a shot to the top corner for a 5-3 lead.
Miller stood on his head the rest of the way, and made two stellar saves on Patrick Benvenuto in succession with 5:40 left. The Lancers made it a 5-4 contest with 2:18 to go, but Ryan Smith scored his first career goal into an empty net off an assist from Carfora with 54.2 seconds remaining to seal the win.
State Champions - 1949, 1961, 1964, 1976, 1984, 1988, 1990, 1994
All-State Players - Ray Luedee '75; Mark Carlo '76, '77; Marty Crouse '77, '78; Don MacMillan '77; Eddie Merola '79; Bob Serenson '84; Jay Andrew '84; Mark Anquillare '84; Mike Gilbert '87; Mike Woznyk '87; Paul Mulligan '88; Darrell Galasso '90; Rob Kryznel '93; Keith Dupee '94; Shaun Jackson '00; Aaron Beauvais '00; Tom Withington '00; Mark Heffernan '00, '01, '02; Brandon Fanelli '02; Jim Lafo '02; Chris Quagliani '02; Ron Baia '03; Nick Quagliani '03; Chris Shore '04; Joe Pereira '05; Ken Comfort '06; Joe Innamorato '07; John Ascenzia '10; Tim Baylis '10; J.P. Withington '11; Kyle Leyerzapf '12; Mike Troiano '12; Austin Hansen '13; Mike Savino '14; Alex Scranton '14; Mike Savino '15; Tyler Paine '16; Pete Richetelli '17; Brendan Serenson '17; Alex Lynch '17; Niko Kyle '18; Rob Forleo '20
BOYS HOCKEY 2020-2021
THE HOME OF WEST HAVEN SPORTS
Westies fall to Xavier 5-3
By MIKE MADERA
(March 14, 2021) - The West Haven boys hockey team returned from quarantine Sunday afternoon in Cromwell against Xavier-Middletown. After a strong start, the Westies could not maintain the energy and fell 5-3 to the Falcons on Senior Day for the Falcons.
Nick Boanno had a goal and an assist, Ben Carfora and Nico Bruneau scored, and Charlie Miller had 30 saves in West Haven’s first game in two weeks.
West Haven got on the board first after initial pressure saw Michael Kelly and D.J. Carfora turned aside. Ryan Bernardi took the initial shot on the first goal of the game and Ben Carfora picked up the rebound for a 1-0 advantage 3:06 into the game. Boanno also assisted on the goal.
After another scoring opportunity by D.J. Carfora was turned aside by Xavier goaltender Ryan Solomon, the Falcons evened the contest with 5:18 remaining in the opening period as Dylan Rovetti found the back of the net.
Just 1:23 later, the Falcons took the lead for good. Matthew Reardon fired between the legs of Miller for a 2-1 Xavier lead with 3:55 remaining in the period. The Falcons dominated the latter part of the opening period and finished with a 13-6 shot advantage after 15 minutes of play.
Looking for a quick start to the second period, the Westies did not receive that. Instead, Xavier got a goal from Dylan Reynolds from the high slot 1:31 into the middle period for a 3-1 lead.
The Falcons had a chance to extend the lead, but Miller denied Jack Nowosad on a breakaway. Just three minutes later, West Haven cut the deficit to 3-2 when Boanno scored off an assist from D.J. Carfora with 5:09 left in the second.
The Westies then had a pair of chances to even the contest, but Kelly was stopped in front with 3:54 remaining, and D.J. Carfora was turned aside on a wraparound attempt with 1:08 to go.
Xavier again extended the margin to two goals on a goal by Nowosad 5:06 into the third, before the Westies put on the pressure.
That pressure paid off when Bruneau scored off an assist from Kelly with 4:09 remaining in the game, but West Haven never got closer as Xavier added a late tally for a 5-3 advantage.
NDWH rallies past Westies in OT
By MIKE MADERA
(March 15, 2021) - WEST HAVEN – You can throw out the records when it comes to rivalry games. Just ask both the Notre Dame-West Haven and West Haven hockey teams.
In a game played with playoff intensity, second-ranked Notre Dame used some late heroics to defeat cross-town rival West Haven 3-2 in overtime at the Edward L. Bennett Rink Monday evening.
West Haven's Nick Boanno and Ben Carfora (11) celebrate Boanno's goal against Notre Dame-West Haven, March 15, 2021. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Trailing 2-1, and with constant pressure in the third period, the Green Knights evened the game with 26.6 seconds remaining in regulation on a goal by Ryan Cannon, then won with 3:54 left in overtime as Daniel Cusack scored in front off assists from Cannon and James Mascari.
The comeback spoiled what was a tremendous effort by West Haven goaltender Charlie Miller, who finished the contest with 36 saves.
In the end, Notre Dame’s depth won out as West Haven rotated seven forwards and five defensemen for the majority of the contest and lost some steam in the third period.
The Green Knights capitalized when Cannon stepped up from the point and beat Miller through traffic to force the overtime.
The Westies had a pair of chances to win in overtime, but a shot by Ben Carfora was turned aside by Notre Dame goaltender Connor Smith with 4:16 to go, before Carfora rang a shot off the post seconds later.
The intensity showed in the opening period as the two teams combined for 24 shots and went to the intermission even at one. Along with what was going on with the score, the physical aspect of the game was heated up throughout the period.
The Westies were given three power play opportunities, including a five-minute major to Michael Pilato, but the Westies were unable to capitalize.
West Haven did open the scoring in the first period less than two minutes into the contest. Off a pass from senior Michael Kelly, Nico Bruneau fired a shot between the legs of Smith for a 1-0 advantage 1:59 into the game.
The lead held up until 3:46 remained in the period as constant pressure by the Green Knights resulted in a goal by John-Michael Childs through traffic, off assists from John D’Errico and Zach Schroeder.
West Haven had a pair of golden opportunities to take the lead late in the opening period, but a shot by Ben Carfora from the slot was turned aside with a blocker save by Smith with 3:05 remaining, and another from the slot by D.J. Carfora was also denied by Smith, who finished with 36 saves.
The Westies took a 2-1 lead in the middle period. Despite being unable to capitalize on the power play, West Haven scored while short-handed as Nick Boanno created a turnover and beat Smith to the top corner on a breakaway with 8:20 to go in the second period.
The middle period saw several outstanding saves by both goaltenders as Smith denied D.J. Carfora in the slot, stopped Carfora again with a pad save on an odd-man rush with 9:43 remaining, then turned aside Boanno’s breakaway attempt with 6:54 to go.Miller was equally impressive as he turned aside Bryce Vitale in front, used his blocker to deny Joseph Zuccarini, and saved his best for last by making a diving stop on a shot by Robert Allan with 1:10 remaining. Miller was also helped when Luke Eberhart rang a shot off the post seconds before Boanno’s tally.
Hamden tops Westies 6-2
By MIKE MADERA
(March 17, 2021) - HAMDEN - Two days after playing cross-town rival Notre Dame in a draining overtime loss, the key for West Haven was how it would respond against another rival in Hamden.
After a scoreless first period, a drained West Haven team watched the Green Dragons score three times in each of the final two periods to defeat West Haven 6-2 at the Lou Astorino Rink in Hamden Wednesday afternoon. With the loss, West Haven fell to 4-6 and will now face Notre Dame-Fairfield in the Southern Connecticut Conference quarterfinals Saturday afternoon in Shelton.
West Haven goaltender Charlie Miller made nine saves in the opening period, but the Westies could not get on the board. Sophomore Ben Carfora had the best opportunities in the first period, but was denied in front with 5:18 remaining, from the left wing 1:37 later, and from the slot with 1:11 to go in the opening period.
Carfora did help get the Westies on the scoreboard less than a minute into the second period as he brought the puck in the Hamden zone, and from behind the net, sent a perfect behind the back pass in front to Nico Bruneau who went top shelf 46 seconds into the second for a 1-0 West Haven lead.
Carfora was denied in front two minutes later and Anthony Peschell had his blast from the slot turned aside by Hamden goaltender Brody Sargolini with 10:14 left in the second.
Unable to build on the lead, West Haven saw Hamden even the contest when Jesse Fracasso went around the West Haven defense and used a backhander to beat Miller with 8:43 left in the second. The Green Dragons then took the lead for good 23 seconds later as Anthony Malonis scored on a two-on-one break.
Hamden's Tyler Milrad scored the third goal of the second period 2:07 later to give Hamden a 3-1 advantage. The Green Dragons increased the lead to 4-1 43 seconds into the third, before West Haven got a goal back.
Carfora was again at the center of the action as he set up Nick Boanno, who roofed a shot to the top corner to get West Haven within 4-2.
The Westies never got closer and dropped their third straight decision since returning from quarantine.
Miller finished with 30 saves in the loss.
End of the Road
Westies fall in SCC/SWC quarterfinals
By MIKE MADERA
(March 20, 2021) - SHELTON - The season has come to a close for the West Haven boys hockey team. Despite a hard-fought effort, the fifth-seeded Westies fell to fourth-seeded Notre Dame-Fairfield 2-1 in a Southern Connecticut Conference/South West Conference Division I quarterfinal contest at the Rinks at Shelton Saturday afternoon.
The loss was West Haven’s fourth straight since returning from quarantine as the Westies could not get back to the form they showed prior. West Haven finished the shortened season 4-7.
West Haven got on the board first in the quarterfinal contest after controlling the first period. With 1:24 left in the opening period, Nick Boanno fed Ryan Bernardi in front and the junior found the back of the net. Joe, D’Aurio also picked up an assist on the lone goal of the game for West Haven.
The Westies held an 11-8 shot advantage in the opening period and ad golden opportunities to cash in. Michael Kelly was denied by Notre Dame goaltender Reagin Gallagher with a pad save with 6:25 to go, Boanno was turned aside on a backhander in front seconds later, and a beautiful feed from Ben Carfora to Boanno was stopped by Gallagher with 5:55 remaining in the opening period.
The Lancers flipped the script in the middle period. After Ben Carfora was stopped from in close 1:05 in, Notre Dame took the lead for good with two goals in 4:27, both by captain Matt Newton.
Newton evened the game at one with 5:16 gone by in the period, then, after Gallagher denied D.J. Carfora on a West Haven power play, Newton got by the West Haven defense and scored a short-handed goal for a 2-1 lead Notre Dame never gave up.
West Haven had its chances in the third period and saw the apparent tying goal overturned when it was ruled West Haven was in the crease with 8:27 to go.
Boanno was then robbed by Gallagher’s outstanding glove save with 4:20 to go, and Anthony Peschell had his shot from the point turned aside with 36.9 seconds to go in the game.
Charlie Miller made 26 saves in the loss for West Haven.