Greenwich boys ice hockey doubled up by New Canaan, 4-2

It was too little, too late for the Greenwich High School boys ice hockey team during the Saturday matinee game against FCIAC rival New Canaan High School.

Despite playing physical at times in the second frame and an all-around solid third period, the Cardinals were sluggish to get out of the box and New Canaan capitalized, scoring twice in the opening period en route to the 4-2 victory over Greenwich High.

“You can’t fault our effort,” Greenwich head coach Bob Russel said. “A lot of guys were playing with a lot of heart and were playing hard, so I am happy with the intensity and effort. We just have to eliminate the mental errors.”

Greenwich (2-2) sophomores Alex Bastone and Matt Lodato scored in the losing effort.

NCHS senior captain Ben Patch fired two quick goals on the board and the Rams never looked back. Juniors Harry Stanton and Jack O’Rourke each added another goal for New Canaan (1-2-1).

“I was kind of worried about how we were going to come out 11 o’clock on a Saturday,” NCHS head coach Bo Hickey said. “Vacation week is starting and kids like to sleep in. We got them up, got them on the bus at 9 and came down here. The way we came out in the first period was shocking because we have been sluggish against Hamden and Darien. I was more than happy with the win, but more so with the way we came out and played ice hockey.”

 

With a little over five minutes gone by in the game, Patch found the back of the net when he got a stick on the loose puck in the scramble in front of the net and pushed it past GHS sophomore goalie Bryan Archino. With only 3:27 showing on the clock, Patch struck again.

With the Rams pushing the tempo and attacking the GHS zone, sophomore David Brush unloaded a shot that Archino got a pad on. However he was unable to corral the puck and Patch was there to get a stick on the puck and deflect it in the back of the net for the 2-0 lead.

“It wasn’t really stick handling skills and it wasn’t the shots,” Patch said. “I was just in the right place at the right time. I listened to my coaches and we worked on stuff like that in practices.”

In the second period, Greenwich had a plethora of scoring chances, as New Canaan put themselves behind the eight-ball by committing countless penalties. With less than 11 minutes to play, Big Red senior captain Reed Brady and sophomore Brian Silard each had open looks at the net, however NCHS goalie Christopher Koenneke came up big and pushed the puck out of harm’s way.

Although on a 5-on-3 power play with less than 10 minutes to play in the second period, it was the Rams that tallied another goal.

With the Cardinals pushing the pace and trying getting aggressive with the puck, Stanton darted in front of the puck at the center ice line and headed to Archino on the 1-on-1 breakaway, deking the goalie with 9:47 on the clock and wristing a shot to give New Canaan a 3-0 lead.

“I thought we played well in the second period, but giving away a 5-on-3 certainly hurt and it’s hard to come back from that,” Russel said. “Some times you shut down from that, but I thought we played well after that. I thought we started to change the momentum of the game in the second and I think the kids started to believe a little bit.”

“You don’t like to practice that in practice because it’s negative reps, but we do fool around with that every once in a while,” Hickey said. “Harry is just so fast and he’s such a tough kid. Harry’s only a junior and this is his third year with me. He’s jet-propelled out there. I have the ability to put speed all over the ice, which in high school hockey is a plus.”

Although down, the Cardinals weren’t out. Still on the attack, Big Red finally put a point on the scoreboard 1:26 later, as Bastone took the pass from sophomore Decker Curran and rifled a close range shot that eluded Koenneke and cut the deficit to 3-1.

“I thought we came out today and weren’t playing well, but we picked it up in the end,” Bastone said. “If we played like that from the start, we could have had a really good game. We should have come out harder than we did. We need to eliminate the penalties.”

The end of the second period was all New Canaan. With 2:09 to play, junior Peter Reinhardt fired a one-timer to the GHS net, however Archino was there to stick the puck aside. However a minute later he wasn’t so lucky.

While on the power play, O’Rourke got the puck behind the GHS net and connected on the wraparound goal for the 4-1 advantage heading into the third period.

While the Rams were comfortably in front, Big Red wasn’t going to go away easily. In fact, playing their best period of the game, Greenwich forced New Canaan into playing a physical game and were taking control of the tempo.

With 9:01 to play, the Rams were forced into taking a penalty and a minute later, Big Red capitalized. With 8:19 to play, Lodato took the puck from Bastone and Curran, who both worked the play deep in the New Canaan zone, and pushed the puck over the NCHS goalie for the goal.

“Being 2-2, I’m pretty happy with everything,” Russel said. “I would have liked to get this one, but all-in-all you can’t be disappointed with where we are at this point in time. I think after a day like today, coming out and battling is a strength here. We have young players willing to battle and winning those battles a lot of the time. Our forwards are working really hard and our defense is trying hard. It’s not going to be perfect, but we need to work hard, get to pucks first, chip them out at times when you have to and get the puck in the zone.”

Greenwich’s big third period also saw a lot of shots on the New Canaan net. For the game, Greenwich had 26 shots on goal, while the Rams finished with 28. In net, Archino connected on 24 saves, while Koenneke tallied 23.

“The first two games we played, we scored two goals and you’re not beating a lot of people with two goals in two games,” Hickey said. “We are relying on a bunch of sophomores to come from Bantam hockey to learn that high school hockey is a little bigger, a little faster and everybody’s a lot tougher. We are learning.”

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