NFI hockey skates past Staples
Published 7:48 am, Thursday, February 11, 2016
DANBURY — New Fairfield-Immaculate boys hockey coach Larry Vieira admitted that he and his team had Wednesday night’s showdown with Staples-Weston-Shelton circled on the calendar from early in the season.
The late-season game could serve as both a barometer and a proving ground in what’s quickly lining up to be a special season for NFI.
Led by goals from five different players, NFI made a strong case for being the team to beat in Division III with a 5-2 win over the Wreckers at the Danbury Ice Arena. A strong start and an even stronger finish was enough for NFI, which improved to 12-2 and remained well ahead of the back in the race for the top seed in the division.
The hosts bounced back from a 3-2 overtime loss to Lyman Hall last time out to win their eighth game out of nine.
“We’ve won some huge games, but to be honest we marked this game on our calendar,” Vieira said. “We respect Staples; they’re well-coached and they have tremendous players.”
NFI’s top line of Christian Benzing, Sam Mitchell and Jameson Brown helped control the contest and combined for three goals and four assists. Mitchell scored the opener less than three minutes into the game, and Benzing would make it 2-0 with 5:28 left in the first off an excellent pass from Brown.
“It’s good to start off on a positive fashion,” Vieira said. “We had a really bad game on Saturday; Lyman Hall took it to us. Scoring the first goal against a very good Staples team was a big confidence boost for us.”
Sam New gave the Wreckers hope with a minute left in the first period by tipping home a pass from Ryan Johnson to make it 2-1. The game remained at that score for the next 20 minutes as each team traded chances.
“We made some adjustments and there’s a lot of heart in that room,” said Staples coach Todd Sharinn said. “I put the guys out there who continuously show up every day in practice and work hard. They did the best they could but they were out-manned tonight.”
But the hosts shifted into another gear in the final period and put the game away. Kai Kindred fired a quick wrist shot past Wreckers goalie Zack Bloom (28 saves) with 10:24 left in the game to provide an insurance goal and Brown would add the clincher with 3:26 left - both off passes from Benzing.
New Fairfield-Immaculate 5, Staples-Weston-Shelton 2
STAPLES-WESTON-SHELTON1 0 1—2
NEW FAIRFIELD-IMMACULATE2 0 3—5
Records: Staples-Weston-Shelton 9-6; New Fairfield-Immaculate 12-2. Goals: S—Sam New, Billy Hutchison; NFI—Sam Mitchell, Christian Benzing, Kai Kindred, Jameson Brown, Tim Manning. Assists: S—Ryan Johnson, Sebastian Zeman, Hutchison; NFI—Brown, Benzing 3. Goalies: SWS—Zack Bloom (28 saves); NFI—(Shane Conciatore 27 saves).