Freshman Caitlyn Hocker’s hat trick keyed Wilton’s 5-2 win over Stamford-Westhill-Staples
NORWALK— The Wilton girls hockey team spent much of the third period on the penalty kill looking to preserve a win over Stamford-Westhill-Staples on Wednesday.
Thanks to a strong effort on the penalty kill, It didn’t matter much.
Both Wilton and SWS viewed Wednesday’s matchup as an opportunity to notch a win while hoping to move up the FCIAC standings. The game was deadlocked at 2-2 after the first period before the hosts gained more of a foothold.
“The first period we seemed sloppy and sluggish,” Wilton coach Pete Maxfield said. “I definitely let them know; but they started to pick it up by the end of the first, start of the second period. They started playing much better.”
The Warriors took control in the second, taking the lead for good on a goal less than 40 seconds into the frame on a goal by Meghan Lane. Wilton continued to push and Hocker finished off her hat trick with a goal from in front to make it 5-2.
After scoring a power play goal to increase its lead to 5-2, Wilton put the clamps down on defense and didn’t yield another goal despite being shorthanded for six minutes. Goalie Izzy Najah made several point-blank saves during the period and Wilton also created chances on the counterattack.
“I put some of my stronger skaters out and they have experience from playing travel,” Maxfield said. “They know how to box it up and clear it out; they did a very good job of it.”
The game was played at a wide-open pace with both teams able to create quality chances; SWS took a 2-1 lead on a power-play goal from Emily Gitlin midway through the first period
“We needed 45 minutes of it,” SWS coach John Fay said. “It was a pretty even first period, but I think our injuries may have caught up to us.”
Wilton — which won three games all last season — improved to 2-2 with the win and appears to be headed in the right direction. An influx of young, talented players has boosted the program in 2016-17, including freshmen Hocker and Lane, who have now combined for nine goals in four games, according to Maxfield.
“We had three wins last year and two this year, so I’m happy with how they’re coming along,” Maxfield said. “We have new legs on the team this year which has really helped; it’s good to pick up those extra skaters.”
Stamford (0-4) is still searching for its first win after the defeat and is battling a host of injury concerns. Starting goalie Mary Leydon missed the game with an illness, while Anizia Babczenko and Biz Fay were also unavailable. Standout forward Kyra DalBello remains a long-term absence as numbers are beginning to get thin.
“We’re asking a lot of some players who don’t have a lot of experience yet,” Fay said. “But they’re doing a good job; they’re getting out there and getting into it.”
WILTON-NORWALK 5 STAMFORD-WESTHILL-STAPLES 2
STAMFORD-WESTHILL-STAPLES 2 0 0 — 2
WILTON-NORWALK 2 2 1 — 5
Records: Stamford-Westhill-Staples 0-4, Wilton-Norwalk 2-2.
Goals: S—Emily Gitlin, Annabel Devault; W—Caitlyn Hocker, Meghan Lane, Molly Thomas. Assists: S—Devault, Erin McGroarty; W—Lane 3, Lily Blackwell, Alyssa Laychak. Goalies: SWS—Casey Watson (24 saves); W—Izzy Najah (20).