By BRIAN JENNINGS
The No. 14 ranked Hall-Southington Warrior-Knights ended their season early with a first-round exit out of the CIAC Division III ice hockey tournament with a 6-0 loss to the No. 3 ranked Westhill Vikings on Monday, Mar. 9 at Terry Conners Ice Rink in Stamford.
“We didn’t play badly, but that team was very good,” said Hall-Southington coach Brian Cannon. “We were just outgunned, plain and simple. They outplayed us and were quick from start to finish, considering that they had a short bench. They never slowed down. We did a good job clearing the puck, but didn’t watch our backs in the zone.”
The Vikings scored two goals in the first period, one in the second, and three in the third. Six different players scored for the Vikings and eight different players had assists.
“They have some good players,” said Cannon. “I nominated two of their players for All-State Player of the Year and I probably could have nominated another one.”
The Warrior-Knights had 17 shots on goal and the Vikings had 62. Erich Bender collected 56 saves for the Warrior-Knights and Christian Contolattaro had 17 for the Vikings.
“Erich’s been a good backstop and solid for us for three years,” the coach said. “He’s such a key to our team. He came in as a sophomore when our starting goalie was injured and won six out of the eight games he played in. He came in and did a good job.”
Cannon will be losing six seniors after this season, including captains Jackson Maxwell, Matt Briscoe, and goalie Bender.
“We’ll see what kind of complexion the team takes after we see what players we have to fill in the spots of the graduating players and go from there,” said Cannon. “Our young players have a year under their belts. We had a lot of freshmen and sophomores that came in and got some time on the ice, who wouldn’t have even dressed in past years. They were getting time in most of the games. Some of them are starting off as sophomores with a lot more experience than they would typically have.”
With the loss, the Warrior-Knights fell to 5-15. The game marked the final contest of the winter campaign. Westhill improved to 12-8-1. The Vikings went on to beat No. 11 Tri-Town, 3-2, in double overtime to secure a spot in the semifinals.