Staples-Weston-Shelton boys hockey coach Todd Sharinn has joked to his team all winter long that they are the best JV squad in the state. Going to war without a senior with mostly freshman and sophomores, the Wreckers challenged most of the more experienced teams they encountered.

However on Thursday night at Bennett Rink, Staples ran into a seasoned varsity squad hungry to make amends for a heartbreaking defeat a year ago in E.O. Smith-Tolland co-op.

E.O. Smith senior Peter Mayer fired a hat trick and goalie Matt Schoen made 34 saves, sending the Bucks past Staples 5-0 in the Division III quarterfinals. The shutout was the first suffered by the Wreckers, ending their season at 12-10.

"I think lady luck was our worst enemy tonight," Sharinn said. "We outshot them (34-28); it felt as though we maintained pressure. They certainly had much more composure than we did."

Staples ran into a buzz saw in the Bucks, who will meet Shepaug co-op in the semifinals at Yale's Ingalls Rink. E.O.Smith is looking to avenge losing in the state final a year ago in overtime to Newtown. With its nine seniors, E.O. Smith capitalized on a number of odd-man rushes to break the game open early.

"(The Bucks) were quick off the puck and I think that comes with maturity and experience," Sharinn said. "Most of them have had two or three years more than any of my players, skating off of a puck and into open ice."

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Peter Mayer, his younger brother Nick Mayer and Stavros Evripidou scored goals in a 2:11 span midway through the first period to stun the Wreckers and earn a 3-0 lead.

"The first, second and third goals were huge," Bucks coach John Hodgson said. "We know (Staples) can score a lot of goals and we can score a lot too; we just wanted to limit their scoring."

The Wreckers gave the Bucks their best shot in the second period, using a pair of power play opportunities to get the offense going and test Schoen. Schoen stopped all 13 pucks fired on him, though, frustrating the Staples' attack.

To compound matters, Peter Mayer tallied a goal on the break with 22 seconds left in the second period to increase the lead 4-0, and extinguish hopes of a comeback. Mayer finished off the hat trick early in the third.

"I felt that the second and third periods were some of the best hockey we've played all season," Sharinn said. "It's a hard way to describe this but the kids almost had an awakening in maturity. I'm really proud of how they persevered and grew from this and would not give up."

The Wreckers still pushed to break up the shutout, but Schoen stopped every shot for the second straight game.

"(Staples) put a lot of pressure on us," Hodgson said. "Matt was great; those guys probably deserved a few more bounces than they got. But Matt was good and our guys did a pretty good job clearing and preventing second chances."

Despite the youth across the roster, the Wreckers matched last season's performance in the state tournament and improved one position in the FCIAC.

"It's been an enlightening experience," Sharinn said. "I've had to learn to change my style of communication at time; different than I might have been last year when I had a team with a few seniors.",

E.O. Smith-Tolland 5, Staples-Weston-Shelton 0

STAPLES 0 0 0 --0

EO SMITH 3 1 1 --5

Records: Staples-Weston-Shelton 12-10; E.O. Smith-Tolland 20-2.

Goals: EOS--Peter Mayer 3, Nick Mayer, Stavros Evripidou. Assists: EOS--Nick Mayer, Cameron Burns, Sean Benjamin, Josh Barnes 2. Goalies: S--Zack Bloom (23 saves); EOS--Matt Schoen (34 saves) Shots: S--34; EOS--28.