Staples boys co-op hockey falls to late surge by Greenwich
Despite being outshot by a nearly two-to-one margin, the combined Staples-Weston-Shelton boys hockey team hung with Greenwich for almost 40 minutes Tuesday, as the score was tied heading into crunch time.
Then came the final 5 minutes, 36 seconds of action.
Senior forward Brian Silard scored three of his career-high four goals during a 3:31 stretch and Greenwich tallied five times over the last five minutes of the third period in its 8-3 triumph over the Staples co-op team at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink in Greenwich.
With their sixth straight win, the Cardinals, who are currently ranked first among Division I squads in the state, raised their record to 10-1. Kevin Piotrzkowski, a senior defenseman, registered one goal and two assists, while senior forward Matt Lodato had three assists for the surging Cardinals.
"It feels good now knowing I scored four goals, but with five minutes left in a tie game it was a different atmosphere," Silard said. "We were all frustrated. Everyone could see we weren't playing the type of game we should have been playing. We were getting pucks on net, but we weren't crashing and we weren't putting in rebounds or finishing. Then the flood gates opened."
Indeed, Greenwich finished the game with a flurry, showing how potent it could be offensively.
"We kept telling them all game to keep getting shots to net," said GHS assistant coach Sam Feda, who helped run the team in the absence of head coach Bob Russel (out sick). "During the third period, we kept peppering them with shots and they started going in."
Staples co-op (6-4) received a hat trick from freshman forward Samuel New and 38 saves from freshman goalie Zachary Bloom.
"I'm really proud of our team," Staples-Weston-Shelton coach Todd Sharinn said. "This was the No. 1 team in the state and they came to play. Greenwich keeps coming at you. We have a very young team, but I feel the level of tenacity we showed tonight was impressive. Our team showed signs of what the future holds for the program."
The third period was, indeed, a wild one. Seven goals were scored during a 7:14 span, six of which came from GHS. With the score knotted at 2-2, Piotrzkowski put the Cards ahead with 6:18 left to play. Senior forward Mak Larson slid the puck to Piotrzkowski, who was set up just above the left faceoff circle. With Montana Larson screening Bloom, Piotrzkowski snapped a shot that found its way over Bloom's pads, giving GHS a 3-2 edge.
The lead lasted exactly 11 seconds. Winning the ensuing faceoff, the Wreckers made it 3-3 on New's unassisted goal 8:53 into the period.
"Staples is a good team, they kept bringing it and bringing it," Feda said. "They are a young team and in a couple of years, they're going to be a pretty dominant team."
Silard gave the Cardinals the lead for good at 4-3, tallying off a feed from senior forward Decker Curran with 5:36 remaining. His empty-netter with 1:43 to go gave him a hat trick and Silard added a fourth goal, knocking in a rebound off a shot from Lodato 36 seconds later. Senior Ian Fulton and junior Charlie Whiteley also notched goals during Greenwich's late-game scoring spurt.
"In this game, we just hit a point where we knew we needed to step up," Silard said. "Lodato being a captain, showed a lot of leadership with some nice plays down low."
Said Sharinn: "Today, we had a couple of forechecking schemes, which worked. It kept them under control for a while, but we were able to roll only two lines and I think toward the end of the game our guys were exhausted."
"They ran a trap, which we couldn't come out of in the first period," Silard said. "Archino kept us in it for a little bit. We could have been down 2-1."
Silard's one-timer off a feed from Curran and senior Naoya Fukuchi's tally (KC Cunningham, Montana Larson assists) gave the Cardinals a 2-0 advantage 6:10 into the opening period. On a 5-on-3 power play, Staples co-op closed to within 2-1 when New converted a pass from Ryan Johnson late in the second period. Greenwich outshot the visitors 16-11 during the second period, yet the Wreckers made it 2-2, thanks to New's goal at the 11:13 mark.
"We came out hard in the third period and focused on getting shots on net," Lodato said. "They outworked us in the first period. We knew we had to keep moving the puck, get bodies in front of the net and crash the net."
Said Piotrzkowski: "It was a lot closer than the score indicates. We had to get our heads straight after the first and second period and really focus. Being 10-1 is so much fun right now after struggling to get wins the last two years. It's an awesome feeling."
GREENWICH 8, STAPLES 3
STAPLES 1 1 1 -- 3
GREENWICH 2 0 6 -- 8
Records: Greenwich 10-1, 5-0 FCIAC; Staples-Weston-Shelton 6-4, 2-2 FCIAC
Goals: S -- Samuel New 3; G -- Brian Silard 4, Kevin Piotrzkowski, Charlie Whiteley, Ian Fulton, Naoya Fukuchi; Assists: S -- Ian Offenberg, Jesse Greenspun; G -- Matt Lodato 3, Decker Curran 2, Piotrzkowski 2, KC Cunningham 2, Montana Larson, Silard, Mak Larson, Oliver Fulton; Goalies: S -- Zachary Bloom (38 saves); G -- Bryan Archino (25 saves).