Staples co-op girls hockey fends off Greenwich
The short series between the Stamford-Westhill-Staples co-op and Greenwich girls hockey teams has been filled with many blowouts. When the co-op program was in its infancy, it was the Cardinals handing out the crooked numbers. Over the past year, Staples co-op has returned the favor.
However, on Wednesday the two teams were locked in an unexpectedly tight contest that came down to the final minutes.
Cassie Miolene netted a goal with 12:12 left in the third period that broke a 1-1 tie, sending the SWS co-op team to a 3-1 win over Greenwich at Terry Conners Rink in Stamford. The win raises the co-op team's record to 12-3 with the stretch run in sight.
"We're a little rusty right now," said SWS co-coach Eli Williams. "(Greenwich) is always a tough team to play against but I think it was more along of the lines of not being on the ice in about a week. We just got better as the game progressed.
After being frustrated in the first period, the co-op team began to gain control of the game and spent time in the Greenwich zone. Shot after shot was turned aside by Cardinals goalie Lisa Lewis, until Miolene picked up the puck from behind the red line, spun around two defenders and scored with 3:47 left in the period.
Greenwich (3-7-1) still had chances at the other end between rushes and tested goalie Claire Parry, including right before SWS took the lead with a low shot that required saving.
The Cardinals tied the game less than two minutes into the final period. Jennie Piotrzkowski picked off a pass in the offensive zone and quickly got off a shot that deflected off a co-op defender and the gear of Parry.
Parry didn't have time to think about the goal though, as she was required to make a double save immediately after to keep it tied.
Staples co-op earned a power play soon after, and Miolene tipped a shot in front past Lewis to retake the lead.
"There was a shot from the blue line that got popped out," Miolene said. "I saw the shot coming and I felt like everyone was jumbled around. (The puck) was sitting right to the outside of (Lewis') leg, there was room near the goal line and I just tapped it in."
Greenwich applied pressure searching for the game-tying goal, including a partial breakaway that was saved by Parry with five minutes left. Co-op called timeout in an attempt to calm the hectic pace and see out the final stretch.
"We knew Greenwich was going to come back with a flurry," Phil Miolene, SWS co-coach. "They've gotten better through the season; they've played some competitive games and we knew that."
The Cardinals pulled Lewis to for an extra attacker, but Steph Walsh sealed the win with an empty net goal with 1:22 remaining.
There was just one shot on goal between the two teams in the first 10 minutes as each defense deflected a number of passes in their own zones. The action opened up when Greenwich got a power play late in the period, as the Cardinals missed breaking the deadlock by inches. SWS responded with a chance of its own, but Miolene's shot in front of the net went wide.
The Cardinals, who already played six games against the FCIAC's top four teams entering Wednesday's matchup, showed a marked improvement from their 4-0 defeat to the co-op team last month.
"It was probably our best team game to be honest," Greenwich coach Alex Lerchen said. "We were hustling out there, we just caught a bad bounce at the end and we got burned."
Lewis made 30 saves for Greenwich, including 16 in the final period.
Stamford-Westhill-Staples 3, Greenwich 1
GREENWICH 0 0 0--1
STAMFORD-WESTHILL-STAPLES 0 1 2--3
Records: Greenwich 3-7-1, 3-6-1 FCIAC; Stamford-Westhill-Staples 12-3, 8-3.
Goals: G--Jennie Piotrzkowski; SWS--Cassie Miolene 2, Steph Walsh. Assists: SWS--Meg Fay, Walsh. Goalies: G--Lisa Lewis (30 saves); SWS--Claire Parry (12 saves).