By KEVIN ROBERTS
Hall-Southington boys ice hockey may have split its two games last week against Wethersfield-Middletown-Rocky Hill-Plainville and the Northeastern Shamrocks, but the Warrior-Knights moved in the right direction.
The Warrior-Knights put up a good effort in a 3-1 loss to WMRP, then went a step further in a 4-2 victory over the Northeastern Shamrocks. The co-op is only 3-7 on the season, but Hall-Southington coach Brian Cannon said that there is more optimism about the days ahead.
“We’ve all got a lot of improving that we can do, but it’s moving in the right direction, so we’ll see if we can do it more and more as we move on,” said Cannon.
Here’s more on what happened in each game last week:
Good effort in loss
JAN. 16—The Warrior-Knights lost to the Eagles for the second time this season, but it wasn’t because of the effort.
“We lost that game on turnovers. Our kids played a good game, the other team played a good game,” Cannon said. “I thought we were actually a little bit more the effective team. I wouldn’t say we were the better team, but I think we outplayed them by a small margin. They outscored us because we shot ourselves in the feet a couple times with turnovers.”
Christian Mohr had the goal for Hall-Southington while Cody Brew provided the assist. Noah Behrens-Gould made 23 saves for the Warrior-Knights. Aaron Cholewa, Brent Clemens and Devin Norton scored the goals for WMRP while Josh Fontaine, Trevor Piecewicz, Owen Davidson, Andrew Albano and Cole McNamara each had one assist. Jake Peckrul made 25 saves for the Eagles.
A key to the better effort from Hall-Southington was moving the puck with more speed.
“Move it in a positive direction now was basically it,” Cannon said.
When the Warrior-Knights moved the puck quickly, they played better. When it wasn’t moved fast enough, WMRP turned the home team over and, on two occasions, scored. There were times where Hall-Southington players were tired, but the puck still has to move.
“That’s part of the learning process,” Cannon said. “They got to learn, when you start to feel that fatigue coming on, you got to be extra sure you get that puck out without turning it over.”
Cholewa scored off assists from Fontaine and Piecewicz to give WMRP a 1-0 lead with 11:06 left in the first period. The 1-0 lead stuck until the second period, when Mohr scored off Brew’s assist at the 12:36 mark to tie the game for Hall-Southington.
The Eagles needed just 1:36 to take the lead for good. Clemens scored off Davidson’s assist for a 2-1 WMRP lead, and the Eagles held that lead into the third period. When Norton scored off assists from Albano and McNamara, WMRP had a 3-1 lead with 12:25 to play. Hall-Southington had chances, but couldn’t put a dent in the deficit.
“I’m a little disappointed, but I’m not upset,” Cannon said. “It was a good effort, a fairly well-played game, but we found a way to shoot ourselves in the foot a couple times and couldn’t overcome it.”
Improving with a win
JAN. 19—The Warrior-Knights not only kept the momentum from the loss to the Eagles going, but improved some more, and the result was a win over the Shamrocks. The aggression that started to show against WMRP helped Hall-Southington get ahead of, then put away Northeastern.
“We had a little bit of that [aggression] against Wethersfield the other night, not enough of it, but we had a little bit of it,” Cannon said. “They brought it up a notch today, now I would like to see us bring it up another notch the next time we play, because there’s still room for improvement there.”
Mason Woods scored two goals to lead Hall-Southington. Michael DiPietro and Sam Kerrigan scored a goal apiece while Bobby Allan, Chris Gambardella and DiPietro each had one assist. Behrens-Gould had 24 saves for the Warrior-Knights.
Noah Fleming and Max Sendley each scored a goal while Sean Power and Andrew Crowl had one assist apiece for Northeastern. Nick Miranda made 28 saves for the Shamrocks.
Hall-Southington took a 2-0 lead after one period after scoring twice in the final 1:10. DiPietro scored on a rebound in front to put the Warrior-Knights up 1-0 with 1:10 left in the first period. Less than 40 seconds later, Hall-Southington was at it again. Woods scored an unassisted goal with 33.3 seconds remaining for a 2-0 lead.
Just 37 seconds into the second period, Northeastern got on the board when Fleming scored. It wasn’t the second period start that Hall-Southington wanted, but the home team improved as time moved along. Kerrigan ripped a right wing shot into the net at the 11:49 mark to give the Warrior-Knights a 3-1 lead.
“We started out really slow there for two or three shifts, but we regained our composure,” Cannon said.
That composure turned out to be real big for Hall-Southington when it was whistled for a five-minute major penalty for tripping in the final seconds of the second period. The Warrior-Knights banded together and killed the penalty.
“They did a great job killing that. We pulled a penalty kill system out that we did use last year at times,” Cannon said. “We were going to work on it Friday morning, and we didn’t get to it. We just pulled it out of our butt, we showed them what we wanted them to do, and they did a pretty good job with it. Actually, they did a very good job with it.”
Hall-Southington may have been a little tired after that penalty kill, and Northeastern got a goal from Sendley with 6:23 remaining in the game to make the score 3-2. Cannon said the lead being cut to a one goal was scary, because a single mistake could lead to a tie game.
Instead, the Warrior-Knights needed just 25 seconds to rebuild their two-goal cushion. Woods’ unassisted tally gave Hall-Southington a 4-2 lead, and it reversed a trend where Warrior-Knight opponents had been the ones to quickly respond to a goal.
“We came right back and scored,” Cannon said. “That helped get a load off of my chest.”
Up next: Hall-Southington looks to keep the good vibes flowing when it plays its lone game of the week on Saturday against Enfield-East Granby-Stafford at the Enfield Twin Rinks at 4 p.m.
“We’re going in the right direction, I like what I see, I think the kids are feeling a little bit better about it,” Cannon said. “We moved a couple kids around in positions, which has been successful so far. The kids are happy where they are, the kids are happy with the play where they are, we’re happy with the play where they are.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com