Facing a struggling, rebuilding opponent, the members of the Staples-Weston-Shelton boys hockey team eyed the chance to end a four-game losing streak on Friday.
But after an inconsistent start, the Wreckers saw their tailspin continue.
Trailing 3-2 after two periods, Staples allowed three goals in the third against Trumbull and fell 6-3 to the Eagles at Milford Ice Pavillion.
"I thought we were going to turn it around tonight," said Staples coach Ralph Unker, whose team fell to 3-6. "It wasn't a good performance on our part."
Staples took a 1-0 lead midway through the opening period when Sean Stewart scored off assists by Steven Shulman and John Mendillo. Trumbull scored twice in the final 3:46 of the first period to seize the lead, and never looked back. Sean Gallagher scored the first of his four goals to tie it, and A.J. DiMasi made it 2-1 Trumbull just 12 seconds before intermission.
Five minutes into the second period, Trumbull took a 3-1 lead on another goal by Gallagher. The Wreckers cut the Eagles' lead to 3-2 less than one minute later on Mendillo's goal.
In the third, Trumbull scored three unanswered goals, most on odd-man rushes and from crashing the net on rebounds.
Staples got a late goal from Stewart off an assist from Eric Zurmuehle, but it was too little, too late.
Trumbull, which graduated 10 players from last season's Division II state title team, improved to 2-7. The Eagles snapped a four-game losing streak in the process.
"We were trying to work more on getting to the net -- getting some of the ugly, gritty goals," Trumbull coach Greg Maxey said. "We're pluggers. I thought we played a pluggers' game tonight."
Unker noted that most of Trumbull's scoring was made possible because of turnovers, something that has hurt the team all season long.
"Giving up goals and turning the puck over to the other team are the two biggest issues we have to correct," he said. "We're trying to work hard. We're trying to put it together."
The Wreckers were back to full strength after dealing with a thinned lineup a week ago because of injuries, suspensions and a school dance. That didn't last long, however. One of the team's leading scorers, Liam O'Leary, left the game with a hand injury in the opening period.
"We managed three goals. We should be able to put up at least a couple more against a team with one win," Unker said. "Some guys were, maybe, over thinking and pressing."
Four minutes into the third period, Trumbull extended its lead to 4-2 on a power-play goal by Gallagher. The Eagles' forward scored again with 5:48 left, ending Staples goalie William Englehart's night between the pipes. Craig Gelman (four saves) finished the night in net for the Wreckers.
"It was really disappointing," Staples forward Zach Speed said of the loss. "This was a game we were hoping to get momentum back with."
Andy Hutchison is a freelance writer
TRUMBULL 6, STAPLES-WESTON-SHELTON 3
TRUMBULL 2 1 3 -- 6
STAPLES 1 1 1 -- 3
Records: Trumbull 2-7; Staples 3-6.
Goals: T -- Sean Gallagher 4, Alex Pierne, AJ DiMasi; S -- Sean Stewart 2, John Mendillo. Assists: T -- Owen Polzello, Michael Antoniou 2, DiMasi; S -- Steven Shulman, Mendillo, Stewart, Eric Zurmuehle. Goalies: T -- Matthew Paolini (32 saves); S -- William Englehart (26), Craig Gelman (4). Shots: T -- 36, S -- 35.