Staples hockey topples Amity
The last time the Staples-Weston-Shelton hockey team walked into West Haven’s Bennett Rink, it came out dejected as the season came to an end in the Division III quarterfinals.
It arrived at the same scene Monday to begin the 2015-16 season with that entire team intact, and began the new season with a commanding performance despite a rash of penalties in the second period.
The Wreckers top line of Jesse Greenspun, Ryan Johnson and Sam New combined for four goals as the Wreckers topped Division II Amity 5-2 in the season-opener for both teams. Staples — a Division III title hopeful — kicked off the season on a positive note with the vivid memory of last March.
“We came out with a lot of fire and energy,” said Staples sophomore Sam New, who had a goal and four assists in the win. “We thought we could have made a run last year; we want to come back here and play in big games and we showed that fire today.”
The trio — who played together a year ago — focused on disturbing the puck over individual brilliance and the adjustment paid off almost immediately. Greenspun got scored the opener after New’s centering feed was deflected into his path in front of the net, and Johnson doubled the advantage at the start of the second period ripped a shot into the corner of the net off a cross-ice feed.
“Our top line is bonding so well,” New said. “We have chemistry from the last two years. We’re working on not playing individually, but playing as a team and I think that showed.”
“Jesse is one of my best friends and one of the best linemates I’ve ever had,” said Johnson “He always gets the puck to me and Sam right on target.”
Staples goalie Zack Bloom made 37 saves, including 16 in the second period when Amity had six power play opportunities. Trailing 2-0 early in the second period, the Spartans had a 5-on-3 opportunity for 1:40, but Bloom had all the answers.
“How could I say anything other than terrific,” Staples coach Todd Sharinn said. “He stopped some quality shots; his coverage was good, he was seeing the puck well and he really showed his maturity.”
The Spartans — one of more consistent teams in Division II who last won that title in 2010 and reached the final in 2014 — got back into the game late in the second period when they converted their fifth power play opportunity — and fourth of the period alone — into a goal. Jeremy Cable converted a 2-on-1 to cut the Staples lead to 2-1 heading into the final 15 minutes.
The Wreckers regrouped in the locker room after nearly giving away the lead, and exploded out of the gates in the third period. Johnson scored 48 seconds into the frame with a nifty move past Amity goalie Tyler Cole after collecting a pass from New.
“Honestly I was just looking to pass; the goalie wasn’t moving so I was confused,” Johnson said. “At the last second I just decided to go around him and it went in.”
New got on the board soon after and Billy Hutchison added a goal for Staples to make it 5-1 in the third period before a late Spartans tally.
Next up for the Wreckers is a visit from NFA co-op at Milford Ice Pavilion on 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Staples-Weston-Shelton 5, Amity 2
STAPLES 1 1 3—5
AMITY 0 1 1—2
Records: Staples-Weston-Shelton 1-0; Amity 0-1.
Goals: S—Ryan Johnson 2, Sam New, Jesse Greenspun, Billy Hutchison; A—Jeremy Cable, White. Assists: New 4, Johnson 2, Sam Zaritsky, Greenspun. Goalies: S—Zack Bloom (37 saves); A—Tyler Cole (26 saves) Shots: S—31; A—38.