Wrecker icemen deck Cards
Falling into a three-goal first-period hole wasn't exactly the ideal way for the Greenwich boys ice hockey team to begin Senior Night Monday against Staples-Weston-Shelton co-op team. It also wasn't a cushion they wanted to give Wreckers goalie Luke Andriuk.
The Cardinals peppered shots at Andriuk from all angles, but the senior goalie made an astounding 47 saves in the combined team of Staples' hard-fought 3-2 victory in a physical FCIAC game at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink.
The win raised the visitors' record to 11-5 overall and 5-4 in the FCIAC as the regular season's conclusion rapidly approaches. Greenwich, which was ahead of Staples in the league standings entering the matchup, dropped to 4-4-1 in the FCIAC, a mark that puts them in sixth place.
Though the Cardinals outshot the Wreckers 49-14, the first period proved to be the home team's downfall.
"We wish we had that first period back," said Greenwich senior tri-captain and forward Louis Pulitano, who was one of 11 seniors honored prior to the opening faceoff. "We could have back checked hard and played much better in the first period. After that first period, we completely dominated the game."
The Cards (5-9-2) held a slim 8-7 shots on goal advantage in the first period, but outshot the visitors 18-3 during the second period and 23-4 in the third. But Staples did all the damage it needed to do with a first-period flurry.
Junior forward Aaron Liu tallied twice and junior forward Kyle Wehmhoff added a goal for the Wreckers, who jumped out to a 3-0 lead 10 minutes, 42 seconds into the opening period.
Wehmhoff put the visitors on the scoreboard first, sneaking a wrist shot past GHS senior goalie and tri-captain Ricky Piper from the right face off circle 7:10 into the first period. Liu went top shelf off a breakaway for the Wreckers' second goal with 7:10 left in the opening period.
The high-scoring Liu capped Staples' scoring when he put home a one-timer off a pass Wehmhoff from behind the net at the 4:18 mark.
"We put it together pretty good in the first period," Wreckers Coach Ralph Unker said. "We tried something different today, we tried putting Kyle [Wehmhoff], Aaron [Liu] and Tali [Laifer] today and it worked out pretty well."
Trailing 3-0, Greenwich began to gain momentum in the second period. Sophomore Eric Macken, senior Gibby McHugh, senior tri-captain Alex Liebers, Pulitano and senior Oscar Ladd each put solid shots on goal, but Andriuk was up for the challenge each time. The Cardinals, who saw their three-game winning streak come to an end, finally closed the Wreckers' lead when Ladd knocked in a rebound off a shot from McHugh with 4:47 left in the second period.
Eric Macken made it a 3-2 game with 3:36 remaining in the third period, tapping in a rebound with the Cards putting traffic in front of the net. After GHS pulled Piper with 1:26 to go and Staples was charged with a tripping penalty, the Cards were in position to score the equalizer. The best opportunity came with less than a minute remaining, as the Cardinals had a shot hit the post and saw Andriuk make three crucial saves.
"Luke is a top shelf goalie," Unker said. "He did a great job tonight, even though let them get too many shots on goal. He weathered the storm, he was really strong to the task."
Both teams had ample opportunities to work on their penalty kill, as they were each charged with numerous infractions during what turned out to be a typical, hard hitting FCIAC game.