All good things must come to an end. For the Greenwich High School boys ice hockey team, they saw their four-game winning streak halted by Trinity Catholic High School earlier today in the Cards’ regular season finale, 3-1.
“We had a good start and the penalty shot really could have propelled us in the right direction, but I thought we were a little lazy and slow,” Greenwich High head coach Bob Russel said. “We didn’t get to the pucks. I think we have more speed than Trinity, but I think they are bigger and stronger along the boards. They won the battles. We actually played better when we were behind. We started to show some effort.”
Just like Big Red has done throughout the latter part of the season, they were able to set the tone early and strike first. With 12:42 left in the first period, sophomores Tommy Feda and Kevin Piotrkowski worked the puck in front of the net. Naoya Fukuchi came in on the play and fired the point-blank shot in the back of the net to give GHS a 1-0 lead.
The lead lasted into the second period, however three consecutive penalties on Greenwich spelled doom for the team’s lead. On the third power play of the period, Trinity knotted the game at 1-1 when freshman Eryk Wielgos took the pass from senior Sean Dolan and sophomore Colin Bernard and hit the tough angle shot for the 1-1 tie.
Again, the Crusaders struck gold on the power play midway through the third period. With the puck loose deep in the Greenwich zone, junior Will Egan controlled the rebound and blasted the shot to the right of GHS goalie Bryan Archino to give Trinity the 2-1 advantage.
“Penalties wear you down and we took way too many today,” Russel said. “All the players you hope to generate offense with get tired having to kill penalties. It’s exhausting. However, we were able to make some big saves during that time.
The Crusaders extended the lead to 3-1 with 1:04 to play, as Wielgos unloaded a shot from nearly the entire length of the ice with the GHS goalie pulled and found the open net.
“I think being on the ice 12 days in a row was a little too much for the team,” Russel said. “We should have taken a day off, but it definitely wasn’t our best effort tonight. From time to time, you’re going to have these games. The most positive thing is that you win a much of games in a row and they start to believe that they are better than they were before. When you lose a game, you’re reminded that you’re better when you do the little things correct and not just because you showed up. I would rather have this type of game today than during the playoffs.”
With the loss, Big Red fell to 12-8 overall and 7-5 in the FCIAC. Trinity Catholic upped its overall record to 7-10-1 and are one game away from a CIAC Division II postseason berth. In the FCIAC they improved to 6-4-1.
“We are playing well and it continued today against a really good Greenwich team,” Trinity head coach Ken Smith said. “Bob always has his team prepared. I know his team is young, but they play smart and hustle the whole game. After the middle of the first period, I think we just hung with them and gradually wore them down a little bit. We got a lot of puck to their net.”
Despite the loss, Greenwich is still currently in the fifth spot for the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference postseason. On Wednesday, the Crusaders face off against Staples High School in their regular season finale. If Trinity ties or beats the Wreckers, they will leap over Greenwich in the standings and take off the fifth spot in the playoffs and GHS would fall to sixth.
If Big Red falls to the sixth spot in the FCIAC tournament, they will face off Friday night at 5:30 p.m. in the opening round against the third-seed, which currently is New Canaan High School. If Staples beats Trinity and Greenwich keeps its fifth spot in the conference, they open FCIACs Saturday night at 5:30 against the No. 4 seed, which is currently Ridgefield High School.