The Trumbull boys hockey team was left frustrated after a first period that included few chances at the net and a two goal deficit on Saturday night.
Buoyed by a plethora of power play opportunities in the second period, the Eagles found their offensive rhythm and then delivered the knocked blow at even strength down the stretch.
Alex Pierne scored the game-winning goal on a breakaway with 7:25 left as Trumbull scored three power play goals in the second period to help defeat visiting Staples/Weston/Shelton 5-3 at the Rinks at Shelton.
"Definitely the power play goals got us going," Trumbull coach Greg Maxey said as the Eagles went 3-for-6 on the man advantage. "All week we've worked on trying to be a more physical team and that was a little bit better."
Staples generated just 16 shots for the game. The Wreckers had a 5-on-3 power play for a minute late in the second period, and, despite hitting the post twice, couldn't convert the chance.
"I watched a team self-destruct," Staples coach Todd Sharinn said. "A team that wasn't supposed to win any games this year, leading Division III and in the state the only Division III team to beat a Division I team beat themselves tonight."
Michael Antonoiu, Sam Watson and Reese Sowka scored power play goals for Trumbull. Derek Nussbaum tied the game early in the third period for Staples before Pierne's heroics. The Eagles added an insurance goal with 2:29 left and held Staples to without a shot over the final nine minutes.
"We moved the puck pretty well, we were kind of iffy in the first period," Watson said. "In the second period we kind of picked it up on the power play and executed and scored."
Watson, a junior defenseman, also had an assist for Trumbull.
"He probably gives us our most consistent effort," Maxey said of Watson. "He works hard, he gives us offense and hits. His power play goal was a nice goal."
The Wreckers defense was in control in the first period, holding the Eagles without a shot on goal for the opening 10 minutes. Aided by a power play, Trumbull peppered the Staples cage in the final five minutes and served notice as to what would come in the second period.
"The first period has been like that for us all year long," Maxey said. "We haven't been able to string together three periods. First period was awful, power play couldn't make a pass, and we were getting beat up. Our biggest thing this year has been consistency."
The Wreckers took six minor penalties for the game and struggled to overcome them as Trumbull found its skates. Sharinn didn't blame the penalties and instead focused on what he described as a lack of focus.
"It had nothing to do with the penalties," Sharinn said. "It had to do with the mindset. Worried about dances, worried about social events, worried about everything except what was going on the ice. ... I've never been more ashamed of what I saw from my players tonight."
Trumbull, the 2012 Division II champions, has scuffled for much of the season partly in part of a difficult schedule. Time is running out to get the required number of wins to make the state tournament. Watson hopes Saturdays win is the start of a second half surge.
"We're in a stretch where we have to win as many games as we can," Watson said. "We have to win these games to get the eight wins."