By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Warrior-Knights (9-3-0) split the week with a win and a loss, but were able to come away with their first victory of the season against a division II team.
Hall-Southington ventured out across the Connecticut River to the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum in Storrs on Saturday, Jan. 30 where they defeated E.O. Smith-Tolland (5-4-0) by one goal, 5-4.
The Warrior-Knights took a 2-0 lead midway through the first period of play with back-to-back goals from Caelan Booth (unassisted) and Jacob Herz (assisted by Jeremy Fortin, Dusty Kilgore), but Nick Mayer kept the Bucks down by one before the end of the period with a goal.
Fortin added a goal 46 seconds into the second period to maintain a two-goal advantage, but Mayer responded with a goal late in the period to keep the Bucks trailing by one, 3-2.
Mayer returned to score the hat trick with a goal just over three minutes into the third period to tie the game at 3-3. Jarod Florian (unassisted) put the Warrior-Knights back up by one, 4-3, with a goal shortly after, but Mayer would not go away.
With a few minutes remaining in the contest, Mayer scored his fourth goal of the game to tie the score for a second time, 4-4. However, Booth (assisted by Kevin Carr) secured the win for Hall-Southington when he scored a goal with 35 ticks left on the clock.
The Warrior-Knights took 23 shots on goal and committed two penalties. The Bucks took 30 shots on goals and committed four penalties. Adam Faust saved 26 shots on goal for the Warrior-Knights and Damon Judkins saved 18 for the Bucks.
Earlier in the week on Wednesday, Hall-Southington hosted Woodstock Academy (9-3-0) on Wednesday, but fell short 7-3.
The Warrior-Knights had a few scoring opportunities in the opening period, but could not capitalize on the open looks at the net, as the Centaurs took a 1-0 lead on a breakaway goal.
Florian (assisted by Herz) tied the game at 1-1 with a goal on a cross in front of the net, with just less than six minutes to play in the second period. The Centaurs responded a couple minutes later with back-to-back goals a minute apart from each other to take a 3-1 lead.
In the closing minutes of the period, Florian skated up the ice alone with the puck on a breakaway, but could not score on a backhanded shot. However, Florian found himself in the same situation on the next offensive possession on another breakaway. This time, Florian faked the goalie out with a couple dekes and wristed the puck to the top shelf of the net to bring the Warrior-Knights within one, 3-2, before the end of the period.
The third period would belong to the Centaurs though as they went on to score four straight goals to put the game to rest. Miles Aronow (assisted by Anthony Abbatiello, Herz) scored the final goal for the Warrior-Knights.
The Centaurs scored three of their seven goals off of power plays. Ryan Black led the Centaurs with five goals.
“Our players were not paying attention to their player off the puck,” said Hall-Southington coach Brian Cannon. “I think we started taking a few penalties out of frustration. We played a decent first period with the same problem that we were forgetting about their most dangerous player [Black]. Second period, he started finding more seams, but we played a decent second period too. Third period we started unraveling and taking penalties.”
The Warrior-Knights took 35 shots on goal and committed seven penalties. The Centaurs committed three penalties. Cal Wilcox saved 32 shots on goal for the Centaurs.
Hall-Southington is currently ranked third in the CIAC’s Division III rankings behind New Fairfield-Immaculate (10-1-0) and Staples-Weston-Shelton (9-4-0).
The Warrior-Knights are set to travel to the Gunnery Rink in Washington on Monday, Feb. 1 to take on Shepaug-Litchfield (0-12-0), followed by another road on Saturday, Feb. 6 against Rockville-Bolton-Coventry-RHAM (4-6-0).