Greenwich ice hockey makes a statement in 5-1 win over Westies

The Greenwich High School boys ice hockey team warms up prior to the start of the season opening game against West Haven. — Paul Silverfarb photo

The Greenwich High School boys ice hockey team warms up prior to the start of the season opening game against West Haven. — Paul Silverfarb photo

In dominating fashion, the Greenwich High School boys ice hockey team opened its season with a convincing 5-1 victory over West Haven High School Wednesday night at the Edward L. Bennett Ice Rink.

“We went through this spell three years ago where we went with all underclassmen,” GHS head coach Bob Russel said. “In the whole team, we had 14 freshmen and the rest were sophomores. A lot of those guys have been with us for four years now and you get those guys with the experience and they were really able to relax and play the game. We handled the puck really well tonight and we were patient. I thought our defense did an outstanding job controlling the play and slowing it down at the right time, opening up lanes and making good passes.”

Big Red spread the wealth around to start the season, as five different Cardinals found the back of the net. Naoya Fukuchi, Decker Curran, Montana Larson, Matt Lodato and Tommy Feda each tallied a goal in the winning effort.

“It felt wonderful to get the victory and score the first goal of the season,” Fukuchi said. “This was the first of 20 games that we will be fighting in. The goal set the tone for the whole game and we were able to pop a few more in. We knew we were going to be the better team out there and fight hard. This season means a lot to us. This feels great.”

Big Red finished with 38 shots on net while the Westies were held to 18 on the night. Stopping 17 of the West Haven’s shots was GHS senior goalie Bryan Archino, who was stellar throughout the game.

“He played really well,” Russel said. “A couple of times we got a little too cute and gave up some opportunities that we shouldn’t of, but Bryan came up with a bunch of big saves. I thought Archie was fantastic tonight. If he plays like that, he gives us a chance to win.”

Archino credited his success to the team’s ability to play stingy defense from start to finish against WHHS.

“It felt great tonight, especially after coming off last year’s loss to them,” Archino said. “Out of my three years, we really never had a strong defensive unit. This year our defense is really strong and they showed that tonight. Our defense was really good and the offense worked really well for us.”

Applying pressure early, Greenwich capitalized first. On a 3-on-2 break, Brian Silard darted down the ice and dished to Lodato on the right side of the net. A quick pass to Fukuchi in front of the net on the left side made the score 1-0 and gave Big Red the early advantage.

“Three guys touched it and we were able to build on it from there,” Russel said. “First goals are important in every game because you make believers out of guys and they are more confident. They got a really good goal on the power play and it stayed even for a while. When we got a few in a row, that kind of took a little gas out of West Haven. That first goal really set the stage and gives you the edge.”

Although West Haven’s Donny Froehlich was able to score on the power play a few minutes later to knot the score at 1-1, the Cards struck again as Curran rifled a shot at point blank range with 4:49 left in the first to give Big Red the 2-1 lead.

With 13:32 to play in the second, Montana Larson got the pass from Ian Fulton and his brother Makenzie Larson and gave Greenwich the 3-1 lead. Less than five minutes later, Lodato struck gold when he took the pass from Silard and blasted a shot at net. Although his first shot was saved, Lodato got his rebound and found the back of the net to make the score 4-1.

The Cardinals ended the scoring when Feda charged the Blue Devils’ net and beat the goalie with 3:40 left in the second frame.

“A lot of good things happened. We had a lot of chances and it was a good effort. This is as upperclassmen of a team that I’ve had since I’ve been here and we want to try and build on what we did tonight.”

With the victory, Greenwich moved to 1-0 on the season while West Haven fell to 0-1.

“That was a great game,” Fukuchi said. “We knew from the preseason that we were going to be high contenders in the state and FCIAC and it’s always good to get a good first start. This 5-1 win meant everything to us because we haven’t beaten West Haven that bad since the 2009 season. I am hoping that this is the year that we can make it really far.”

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