MILFORD -- The competition will undoubtedly get tougher for the Staples-Weston-Shelton High boys hockey team when it begins conference play after the new year.
For now, the Wreckers are feasting on overmatched opponents.
In their last three games, the Wreckers have scored 24 goals. They defeated Lyman Hall-Haddam-Killingworth 8-2 on Dec 15 and Masuk 6-0 four days later.
"We really try to move the puck well, use all of our weapons on offense and on defense," Zurmuehle said. "We have people that can score on both ends of the ice. Overall, we try to work together to create good offensive opportunities and put the puck in the back of net."
With a 4-1 lead after 30 minutes, the Wreckers weren't looking to run up the score, but it seemed everything they threw at the net in the third period went in. They scored six goals in the period, including five within the first eight minutes.
"We were just trying to keep the game respectable, trying to play keep away as much as possible," said head coach Ralph Unker, whose team moved to 3-1 overall. "We tried to push the buttons and score when I wanted to. It didn't work the way we planned. We got through it. I think we did a good job of playing keep away. It's obvious they're a young program."
Steven Shulman chipped in with three assists for the Wreckers, who used three goaltenders. William Englehart made five saves in the first period, Craig Gelman seven in the second and Matthew Beckoff three in the third.
The Wreckers finished with a 34-15 edge in shots.
It did take a while for the Wreckers' offense to get going, but Shulman feathered a perfect centering pass on the doorstep to Fern, who converted the one-timer at 7:14 of the first.
Staples grabbed a 2-0 lead on Zurmuehle's shorthanded goal at 6:22 of the second before the Wreckers suffered one of their few defensive breakdowns while shorthanded. After a blocked shot, Malzahn grabbed the puck at the Wreckers' blue line, broke in alone and scored inside the left post after a nice deke at 7:43.
But Fern and Zurmuehle tallied 67 seconds apart to give the Wreckers a three-goal advantage. After Fern scored off a scramble in front, Zurmuehle skated into the top of the slot and fired a bullet that beat Fitch goaltender Tyler Luke high to the glove side at 10:09.
Fern completed his hat trick just 19 seconds into the third period on another nifty move as he cut around the defense and flipped a backhander past Luke.
"Wyatt has a really good set of hands and he does have a good nose for the net," Unker added. "He is good in front of the net--Wyatt and Shulman too, for that matter."
After Fern's third goal, the floodgates opened for the Wreckers, who faced virtually no resistance in front of the net. Zach Speed and John Mendillo scored in a 12-second span before Owen Engledrum and Thomas Meyers tallied nine seconds apart to make it 9-1 with still seven minutes left. Jesse Greenspun recorded Staples' 10th goal on the power play with 1:13 to play.
The Wreckers will open FCIAC play on Saturday when they host Westhill (0-2-1) at 7:15 p.m. at the Milford Ice Pavillion.
Bob Birge is a freelance writer