STAMFORD -- Giving up goals has been a season-long problem for the Stamford boys ice hockey team. That trend continued Saturday at Terry Conners Rink.
A snake-bitten offensive effort made matters worse for the Black Knights, who, despite outshooting the opposition and a multitude of other chances to score, couldn't put the puck in the back of the net enough to claim the win.
Derek Nussbaum recorded a hat trick and Jack Mendillo had four assists as Staples/Weston/Shelton beat Stamford 6-2 for its third straight win. The Wreckers improved to 4-3 while Stamford dropped to 2-7.
"We worked hard and we had our opportunities," Stamford coach Doug Robinson said. "We have trouble keeping the puck out of our net, we get bogged down trying to break out and we are not a come from behind team."
Will Englehart made 25 saves for the Wreckers. Engle hart was under siege for long portions of the game but stood tall under intense pressure. Even when Stamford beat Englehart, it couldn't put the puck in the back of the net, missing three shots on wide-open nets.
"Will came up big today, one of the best games I've seen him play all year," Staples coach Todd Sharinn said. "We're very lucky we had a hot goalie and they had a very young goalie. And they missed the net a lot."
The Wreckers jumped out to a 2-0 lead late in the first period thanks to two goals in 16 seconds from Ryan Johnson and Nussbaum. The double strike put the Black Knights, who dominated most of the period, on their heels.
"It does because I don't think we are strong enough mentally to move forward from that," Robinson said. "We have seniors and we got a lot of younger kids. The panic sets in."
Jesse Greenspun scored 1:11 into the second period to give Staples a 3-0 lead, only for Stamford to respond 33 seconds later. The Black Knights pressed to cut into the deficit further, but a counter attack goal by Nussbaum sent the Wreckers on their way.
"In the second period I think we had two wide open nets with nobody in between," Robinson said. "And for whatever reason they didn't go in. I think all three periods we outplayed (Staples), we just couldn't put the puck in the net."
Brian Powers and Zach Rood scored goals for the Black Knights, while Stamford sophomore goalie Conor McDonough, making his first start, made 21 saves.
Eric Zurmuehle had a goal and two assists for Staples. Mendillo's four assists gives him 24 points (11 goals, 13 assists) in seven games this season.
"All of the kids bring the same thing: enthusiasm, commitment to an ideal of trying to make themselves the best hockey players they can be on an individual basis and work together the best they can as a team," Sharinn said.
The win was a vital one for the Wreckers, who are about to take on the top teams in the FCIAC, beginning with Greenwich Wednesday.
"We have a tough schedule being a part of the FCIAC," Sharinn said. Any win is a win at the end of the day; good, bad or ugly. This wasn't our best showing; I'm happy to get out of here with (a win)."
Staples/Weston/Shelton 6, Stamford 2
STAPLES 2 2 2--6
STAMFORD 0 1 1--2
Records: Stamford 2-6, 0-2 FCIAC; Staples 4-3, 2-0.
Goals: Stap--Derek Nussbaum 3, Eric Zurmuehle, Jesse Greenspun, Ryan Johnson; Stam--Brian Powers, Zach Rood. Assists: Stap--Jack Mendillo 4, Johnson 2, Zurmuehle 2, Evan Mancini, Ian Offenberg; Stam--Justin Nizolek 2, Michael Zarilla. Goalies: Stap--Will Englehart (25 saves); Stam--Conor McDonough (21).