By BRIAN JENNINGS
Scoring’s been a stumbling block for the Hall-Southington ice hockey team over the past few seasons, but it seems to be an even bigger stumbling block this winter as they approach the midpoint of the season.
The co-op has been dominant on defense and on penalty kills, but Warrior-Knight coach Brian Cannon said that the lack of scoring has been costing the team victories as of late. An 8-1 win over a struggling team sure looks nice on your resume, but it doesn’t cut it when you’re losing key games in the final minute of overtime.
After losing two games last week, including an overtime loss at home, Cannon has thrown down the gauntlet to his team: It’s time to generate some scoring against stronger teams. That’s the bottom line.
“We’ve gone out and lit up a couple of teams that are just not as strong as us,” said Cannon. “But we get into these games, and I don’t think that club is as strong as we are.”
Cannon said that they’ve been trying to figure out a way to break the drought, but it’s not for a lack of effort. Coaches still don’t know what will help the team break the ice against competitive teams at this point of the season.
“We see little bits and pieces, but we need more of the bits and pieces,” said Cannon. “We need consistency. The kids are perfectly capable of doing it.”
The Warrior-Knights will be back on the ice this week when they travel to the Newington Arena on Wednesday, Jan. 24 to take on divisional WMRP (5-4) and then head to the Bolton Ice Palace on Saturday, Jan. 27 for a divisional road game against BCR (1-8). Hall-Southington is currently 5-4.
The team began the week by bouncing back from Saturday’s loss to North Haven to earn their fifth win of the season with an 8-1 rout of the Redhawks at home on Monday, Jan. 15.
The locals held a 5-0 lead after the first period, as Michael DiPietro paced the offense with a pair of goals. Nate Zmarlicki, Bobby Allan, and Miles Aronow each contributed with a pair of assists.
Zach Monti saved 15 shots on goal. Hall-Southington took 59 shots on goal and committed all three penalties in the contest.
“We were a little quicker than we have been,” said Cannon. “We’ve been trying to get them to play faster in the transition game and get the puck up the ice faster. It’s been small baby steps, but tonight, I’d say that we took a stride forward.”
After Monday’s explosive, seven-goal victory over the Redhawks, the Warrior-Knights cooled off. They capped off the week by suffering their fourth loss on the year after falling by a goal, 2-1, at home in their first overtime contest of the season.
Following a scoreless first period, DiPietro assisted Aronow with the game’s first goal late in the second. The Eagles knotted the score with a goal off a deflection on a power play early in the third, eventually sending the contest into overtime. In a back-and-forth extra period, the Eagles worked their offense into Hall-Southington’s zone and clinched the win by beating the goalie off a one-timer just outside the crease.
The Warrior-Knights were shut out, 2-0, the first time they played the Eagles earlier in the season. Cannon said that he thought his guys moved the puck a little better this time around, but ultimately in the end, they gave the Eagles too much room to skate and maneuver.
“We’re looking to create angles like the two they scored today,” said Cannon. “They scored the identical goal, once at each end. Part of it was bad coverage on our part. A lot of times, we’ve been a very physical team, but we weren’t that physical today.”
Monti saved 19 of the co-op team’s 21 shots on goal. Hall-Southington took 26 shots on goal and committed seven of the 11 penalties in one of the chippier games the team has had this season, including a pair of major penalties.
“We’ve been working on transition through the neutral zone, zone attack, and net attack,” said Cannon. “We’re still not putting that at the forefront of our game. All we can do is keep working at it.”
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2018/01/23/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-jan-26-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.