Staples routs Masuk in DIII first round
MILFORD — Despite his team leading 1-0 at the end of the first period in the first round of the Division III playoffs against Masuk, Staples-Weston-Shelton coach Todd Sharinn knew his team had another level to reach in order to put the Panthers away.
His team obliged with a five-goal second period showcasing all of the talent on the bench, and SWS advanced to the Division III quarterfinals for a third straight season with a 7-3 win over Masuk. Ryan Johnson scored a hat trick for the No. 3 Wreckers, who will face Lyman Hall co-op in the final eight Thursday.
The last time the Wreckers and Panthers met, SWS was ousted from the Division III quarterfinals in 2014. It returned the favor in spades Monday behind the huge second period.
“I thought that we played really sloppy in the first period,” Sharinn said. “We reverted to some bad habits. ... We opened up the ice in the second period, we saw some good hockey out of them.”
It began with a goal from Billy Hutchison less than two minutes into the frame when he tapped in a centering pass from Sam New. After a Masuk goal temporarily made it 2-1, Johnson scored in identical fashion and Evan Mancini blasted a shot from in front of the goal — in a 40-second span — to extend the lead to 4-1.
Defensive linemates Ian Offenberg and Jimmy Beirne added tallies late in the period to push the advantage to 6-1. By the time the avalanche was over, so was the game. Adam Montague scored a pair of goals for Masuk, which finished the season 6-15 in a rebuilding year with just two seniors after reaching the final last year.
“I liked the way we competed today,” Masuk coach Andrew Townsend said. “I don’t think it was a 7-3 game by any stretch of the imagination. (Staples) punished us for our mistakes and that’s what good teams do.”
Johnson gave SWS an early 1-0 lead in a flash, corralling a loose puck at center ice before racing in on goal and finishing past Masuk goalie Taggart Weiss with 2:18 gone by in the first.
The Panthers responded well to the goal and had several looks to tie the game, but Zack Bloom was in the zone early. Masuk held a 9-7 shot advantage after the first before the Wreckers poured it on with 18 in the second.
“(Masuk) came out really hard,” Sharinn said. “I’ve seen film and this was the best I saw them play all season; they really put it to us. The fact that we were able to roll three lines helped us quite a bit.”
Seeded third and among the favorites to claim the title, Staples passed its first test with potentially several ahead.
“Our problem is getting out of the second (round),” Sharinn said. “We’ll see; I’m not going to celebrate until we get to (Ingalls Rink for the semifinals).”
MASUK 0 2 1 — 3
STAPLES-WESTON-SHELTON 1 5 1 — 7
Records: Masuk 6-15; Staples-Weston-Shelton 13-8. Goals: M—Adam Montague 2, ; S—Ryan Johnson 3, Evan Mancini, Billy Hutchison, Ian Offenberg, Jimmy Beirne; Assists: S—RJ Gupta 2, Jesse Greenspun, Offenberg, Sam New 2. Goalies: M—Taggart Weiss (29 saves); S—Zack Bloom (20 saves).