Opportunities were plentiful for the Greenwich High School boys ice hockey team during the first two periods of its game against St. Joseph, as it registered 23 shots on goal, yet the scoreboard showed a tense, 1-1 deadlock heading into the final period.
Then the Cardinals turned some of their numerous opportunities into goals during the third period, earning what’s eluded them the past several weeks – a much-needed victory.
Senior Danny Pratley recorded two goals and Greenwich used a three-goal third to skate past St. Joseph, 4-2, Tuesday at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink. The win put the skids on Greenwich’s five-game losing streak.
“Tonight was the first night we played 45 minutes of good hockey, it a good team effort,” Greenwich coach Jack Duffy said. “We showed a lot of fight in the third period. Throughout this tough stretch, the team has learned that it’s hard to win hockey games and when you put 45 minutes of good hockey together you can win games.”
With the score knotted at 1-1 in the third period, senior forward Francois Geraghty scored off an assist from junior linemate Matthew Trimmer, giving Greenwich a one-goal advantage early in the period. The Cadets responded though, tallying with approximately seven minutes remaining, making it 2-2.
Then with just 2:30 left in the final period, senior forward Grady Kaali-Nagy converted a shot from the slot off after gathering a pass from behind the net, putting the Cardinals ahead, for good at 3-2. Pratley completed his two-goal game by scoring an empty-netter in the final minute.
“Both teams played well, it was a back-and-forth game,” Duffy said. “Each team had some real good opportunities.”
The second period especially saw the Cardinals and Cadets have chances to light the lamp. Greenwich went on a 5-on-3 power play, following a pair of St. Joseph penalties, but Cadets senior goalie Tyler Stiewing stood strong in the face of pressure, registering 11 saves, several off snap shots from close range.
Cardinals junior goalie Cole Studwell was also up to the task, notching several key saves to keep the score tied.
In the opening period, Greenwich (2-5) struck first. Controlling the puck off a St. Joseph turnover in the neutral zone, Pratley skated alone down the left wing, then put a snap shot past Stiewing, giving Greenwich a 1-0 edge with 9:28 to go in the first period. The Cadets certainly responded quickly, though.
After taking possession following the ensuing faceoff, sophomore forward scored on a one-timer off a feed from junior linemate Joey Brisson, making it 1-1 only 20 seconds later. The home team posted 15 shots in the first period and Studwell made four saves in goal.
“Going into the year we knew we had a tough schedule to start the year,” said Duffy, whose Cardinals were led defensively by junior Peter Lewis and senior Brendan Frost. “I believe we have turned the corner as a team. Tonight’s effort was great.”
Prior to the game, both teams skated to center ice and joined each other for a moment of silence for Teddy Balkind, a St. Luke’s School sophomore, who died this past Thursday, after sustaining injuries to his neck while playing in a junior varsity hockey game at Brunswick School’s Hartong Rink. The members of the Cardinals and Cadets raised their sticks to play tribute to Balkind, whose death shocked the ice hockey and sports community throughout the nation.
Up next for Greenwich is a road game against FCIAC rival Ridgefield on Saturday at Winter Garden Ice Rink. The puck will drop at 8:30 p.m.