By BRIAN JENNINGS
WEST HARTFORD—The Warrior-Knights ice hockey team finished out their regular season with back-to-back losses against the division two Conard Chieftains at Veterans Memorial Ice Rink in West Hartford, but Hall-Southington is still poised for the postseason.
On Monday, Feb. 23, Conard opened the two-game series with a 6-0 shutout of their cross-town rivals. The Chieftains scored one goal in the first period, four in the second, and one in the third.
“We started making penalties,” said Hall-Southington coach Brian Cannon. “We came out of the first period tied and gave up four goals in the second period, mostly because we were playing shorthanded. Penalties really killed us.”
Mark Ehnot led the Chieftains with two goals.
The Warrior-Knights had 17 shots on goal and the Chieftains had 38. Erich Bender had 32 saves for the Warrior-Knights and Zander Khan had 17 for the Chieftains.
In the second game, the Warrior-Knights avoided the shutout, but still fell to the Chieftains, 5-2, in a weekend finale.
“Conard got a goal or two late because we started running around a little bit,” said Cannon. They started moving a little more and we started chasing them a little more instead of holding our ground. But the kids put in a better effort against Conard than anyone else. Over time, they had a little more speed and scoring ability than we had and it finally bubbled up late in the game.”
The Chieftains broke the net first, with a goal in the beginning of the first period.
The Warrior-Knights answered back with a goal from Dusty Kilgore with seconds to go in the first period. Jackson Maxwell gave the Warrior-Knights the lead with a goal in the beginning of the second period.
However, the Warrior-Knights would go cold and scoreless for the remainder of the game, as the Chieftains would take command and close the game out with two goals in the second period and two more in the third.
Jordan Fongemie led the Chieftains with two scores.
The Warrior-Knights had 19 shots on goal and the Chieftains had 45. Bender and Kyle Partiss had a combined 40 saves for the Warrior-Knights and Khan had 17 for the Chieftains.
Despite the losses, Hall-Southington is currently ranked fifth in the CCC South. The team has already clinched a berth into the Division III State Tournament, but Cannon’s crew is waiting in limbo on the outcome of the Rockville-Bolton-Coventry (6-13) and Farmington-Avon-Windsor Generals (3-16) game.
If the Generals win, the Warrior-Knights will get into the conference tournament and face the first-place E.O. Smith-Tolland-Windham Bucks (18-2), with the possibility of meeting them again in the state tournament.
“We’d be going into it playing a team that beat us 18-2 this year,” the Warrior-Knights coach said. “They just disassembled Woodstock Academy (10-9) the other night in a similar scrum. They are just steamrolling almost everyone they play. They have a good team. To their credit, they have players that teams don’t have answers for. That’s not to say that on any given day, they couldn’t be beat.”