By John Goralski
In the final week of the season, Hall-Southington completed the season sweep of last year’s division III champion, but Coach Brian Cannon isn’t ready to discuss this year’s brackets.
The Warrior-Knights lost a tight battle against Conard in the regular season finale. One game earlier, they edged Newington-Berlin for the second time this season, but it was the fourth-straight loss to Bolton-Coventry-Rockville that has captured Cannon’s attention.
Cannon’s crew will have one more chance at their nemesis in the conference championship this weekend before they’ll turn their attention to the postseason brackets.
“We don’t play well against them,” said Cannon. “We don’t match up well against them, and we seem to have trouble getting motivated when we play them. Now, here’s another chance.”
For a short span in the second period, the Warrior-Knights were actually tied against Bolton, 1-1. Dave Valentukonis opened the period with the game-tying goal, but Bolton rallied for the next five scores to capture a 6-1 decision.
“I will give them credit. I don’t think they’re nearly as talented or deep as us, but they out-work us,” said the coach. “It’s just one of those bad chemistry things. For whatever reason, and we can’t put our fingers on it, we just don’t match up.”
That wasn’t the case the following day as the team built a 2-0 lead over Newington with goals by Owen Kantor and Brian Mahon. Newington managed to trim the lead to one goal, but Hall-Southington held on for a 2-1 victory over the defending state champs.
Justin Rose, Trey Lerner, and Jarod florian earned assists. Jeff Moore made 24 saves, and Hall-Southington earned their 12th win of the season.
Cannon was even pleased with a 3-0 loss to Conard in Saturday’s finale. Hall-Southington won the first meeting of the cross-town rival in early February, but Conard evened the record in the rematch. Still, the division II Chieftains struggled against Cannon’s crew.
“They had one legit goal in the first period, but they had two flukey goals,” said the coach. “History tells us that this is the natural order of things, but we played a decent game. We just didn’t put away our chances, and that’s basically what happened.”
With two wins and a loss in the final week, Hall-Southington enters the postseason with a 12-6-1 record. First, they’ll face Bolton in the conference finals. Then, they’ll turn their attention to a possible first round matchup with Masuk, a team that battled the locals to a tie in early February.
“We’re basically guaranteed two games right now,” said the coach. “I’d like to see us win on Saturday, but we have to go out and do it. It’s a matter of showing up and being ready to go.”
As of Tuesday, Saturday’s start has not been posted. Information will be available by Saturday on the CCC website at www.centralconnecticutconference.org.