Snapping the skid; Hockey needs 1 win to clinch tourney

By John Goralski
Sports Writer
At the start of the second minute, Brian Mahon skipped the puck under the pads of Lyman Hall’s goaltender. Seventeen seconds later, Dylan Roach pushed the lead to 2-0.
On Monday, Feb. 10, the Warrior-Knights desperately needed a win. For the first time since mid-January, Hall-Southington helped their cause with an early lead.
“I wish we had kept our foot on the pedal the whole game, but we kind of got happy after those first two went in,” said Hall-Southington hockey coach Brian Cannon. “They might have been a victim of a little bit of bus legs, but we came out hard and fast from the opening face-off. We put pressure on them. We put pucks on net, and we had some success. Then, we started backing off.”
The win couldn’t have come at a better time. Hall-Southington has been on a losing streak that began in mid-January. With only four games remaining, the team is still looking for the eighth win that will secure a postseason berth.
That’s why Cannon still wasn’t overjoyed by his team’s win. Despite the 2-0 score in the opening minutes, Lyman Hall cut the lead to 2-1 after two periods. Even with the strong start, it took a third period rally to put the game away.
“I thought our execution needed to be much better tonight,” said the coach. “It was good on a couple of plays with one or two nice goals, but we had a lot of throwaways, misses, and uncaught passes. It creates pucks that come back at us, and that needs to be cleaned up.”
On the other hand, the victory was just what the team needed. Kevin Cop and Dave Valentukonis combined for two scores in the third period rally. Cop opened the sxcoring with a fast break. Valentukonis capped the rally with another one, and Will Amenabar scored one in between.
Cody Backus, Jarod Florian, Cop, and Valentukonis each scored assists. Hall-Southington out-shot Lyman Hall, 30-26, and Erich Bender made 24 saves to capture the win.
With four games remaining, the Warrior-Knights improved to 7-8.
“We did enough to win,” said Cannon. “I would have liked to see it be more decisive, more cleanly executed, and finished. Bender had a good game. He took on a lot of pucks, and we did do a good job clearing out the pucks that he kicked out. We just gave up too many shots and too many opportunities that I didn’t think that they should have had.”
Now, the team looks to build momentum toward the postseason with rematches against Rocky Hill-RHAM-Middletown (2-12), Newington-Berlin-Manchester (11-13-1), and Conard (4-11).
Hall-Southington went 1-2 in their first meetings, but they only need one more victory to secure a postseason bid.

By John Goralski Dave Valentukonis fights for the puck in the corner during a 5-2 win over Lyman Hall-Haddam-Killingworth on Monday, Feb. 10.

By John Goralski
Dave Valentukonis fights for the puck in the corner during a 5-2 win over Lyman Hall-Haddam-Killingworth on Monday, Feb. 10.

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