Two-goal third period lifts Trinity Catholic hockey team past Greenwich
Updated 11:37 pm, Monday, February 18, 2013
Winners of just two of its first 13 games, the Trinity Catholic boys hockey team seemed like it was a longshot to make the FCIAC or state playoffs. Five games later, the Crusaders are only one win away from earning the No. 5 seed in the FCIAC Tournament and securing a berth in the Division II playoffs.
What happened? The Crusaders went into desperation mode and began playing their best hockey.
Greenwich High School and Trinity Catholic each entered Monday's FCIAC matchup riding four-game winning streaks, but unfortunately for the Cardinals, the Crusaders continued their late-season magic.
On the strength of two power play goals, Trinity Catholic notched a 3-1 victory over Greenwich at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink. A triumph in their regular season finale would have given the Cardinals the No. 5 seed in the upcoming FCIAC Tournament. Instead, Greenwich (12-8, 7-5 FCIAC) must wait for the result of Trinity's game against Staples on Thursday to find out their seed for the conference tournament. A win against Staples would put the Crusaders (7-10-1, 6-4-1) at No. 5, with the Cardinals moving to the sixth seed. If Trinity loses, Greenwich retains its fifth seed.
On the power play after Greenwich was charged with a roughing penalty with 9 minutes, 43 seconds left in the third period, the Crusaders quickly capitalized. Senior Sean Dolan's shot deflected off the pads of GHS sophomore goalie Bryan Archino and the opportunistic Will Egan was at the doorstep to knock in the rebound, giving the Crusaders a 2-1 lead.
"The puck bounced right to me and I just put it right in," Egan said. "After starting the season the way we did we became desperate. We knew we needed to win all of these games to make the tournament and began playing a lot better."
The Cardinals, who went into the matchup having won five of their last six games, continued its recent trend of jumping out to early first-period leads. Controlling a pass from sophomore Tommy Feda, junior forward Naoya Fukuchi blasted a shot past Trinity goalie Kyle Odierno from close in, putting the Cardinals ahead, 1-0. The home team came close to taking a 2-0 advantage, but Odierno made a nifty save off a penalty shot from Cardinals sophomore forward Alex Bastone 5:47 into the opening period. After that, the momentum slowly shifted in the Crusaders' favor.
"We had a good start to the game and came out strong early once again," said GHS coach Bob Russel, whose squad flourished in the first period during four-game win streak. "Then we began trying to do things on our own. We were trying to make long passes and weren't doing the simple things we did early in the game. Tonight, we just seemed to lack energy."
Said Fukuchi: "We didn't come out 110 percent and that cost us in the second period. I thought we played better in the third period, but all the bounces went to them. It was our last game of the regular season and we were all pumped up at the beginning. Then we kind of lost it."
Three second-period penalties caught up the Cards. After Greenwich killed the Crusaders first two power plays of the period thanks to the strong play of Archino (20 saves) in goal, the visitors cashed in on their third chance. Freshman Eryk Wielgos converted a tough angle shot from the left wing off a pass from senior Sean Dolan, making it a 1-1 game with 50.3 seconds to go in the second period.
"When you're killing a lot of penalties like that you use a lot of your horsepower," Russel said.
"Our power play helped us generate a lot of shots on goal today," Egan said.
Wielgos added an empty-net goal with 1:04 left to play to seal the win for Trinity, which received 23 saves from Odierno.
"Kyle has been having fun in practice and coming to the rink focused and it shows in his play," Trinity Catholic coach Ken Smith said. Smith said beating the combined Watertown-Pomperaug team was the turning point of the season for his squad.
"We were 2-10 at the time and I made a little switch, putting my senior captain (Steven Labrinakos) on defense," Smith said. "That solidified our team and from that night we got on a little bit of a roll and it continued today."
"When we were behind tonight, we seemed to bring more energy," Russel said. "If we were going to have an off game I would like to have it now than the first game of the playoffs."
NOTES: The team earning the fifth seed in the FCIAC Tournament will play Saturday night in the quarterfinal round. The No. 6 seed will play in the quarterfinals on Friday.
TRINITY CATHOLIC 3, GREENWICH 1
TRINITY CATHOLIC 0 1 2 -- 3
GREENWICH 1 0 0 --1
Goals: TC -- Eryk Wielgos 2, Will Egan; G -- Naoya Fukuchi. Assists: TC -- Sean Dolan 2, Colin Bernard, Steven Lambrinakos. G -- Kevin Piotrzkowski, Tommy Feda. Goalies: TC -- Kyle Ordierno (23 saves); G -- Bryan Archino (20 saves).
Records: Greenwich 12-8; Trinity Catholic 7-10-1.