During its previous five games, all losses, the Greenwich boys hockey team managed to score only five goals, so when it tallied four times against Notre Dame-West Haven, the No. 1-ranked team in Division I, it was of course, a positive sign for the Cardinals.
There were, in fact, plenty of positives for the Cardinals, who celebrated their Senior Day Wednesday night against Notre Dame-West Haven. The Cardinals moved the puck well, played tough and held the lead twice against their formidable foe.
Yet unfortunately for the Cardinals, they fell just short of upsetting the No. 1 team in the state.
Registering a goal with 5:17 remaining in overtime, Notre Dame-West Haven pulled out a 5-4 win over Greenwich in a late-season non-conference matchup held at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink.
With their 11th win in their last 12 games, Notre Dame-West Haven moved its overall record to 12-3. Greenwich meanwhile, has lost six straight games with one game remaining on its schedule – a matchup on Saturday against the Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe co-op. The Cardinals (6-11-1) will then compete in the FCIAC Tournament, which begins next Saturday.
Despite Wednesday night’s loss, the Cards left the game with a good deal of optimism and are confident they could make their mark in the postseason.
“I’m very proud of the effort,” Greenwich coach Jack Duffy said. “That’s a really good hockey team that we played and our kids battled. We can’t hold our heads from that one. We hung in there, we got down during the second period, we came back and got a lead.”
Greenwich received a hat trick from senior forward Grady Kaali-Nagy, who gave the team a 2-1 lead in the first period, then knotted the score at 3-3 in the second period.
“Grady – he’s a kid who has a nose for the net,” Duffy said. “He spent some time in front of the net tonight and got rewarded for it. It was big to score a hat trick against Notre Dame-West Haven, that’s pretty special.”
The visitors struck first in this matchup, with James Mascari scoring off assists from Colby Faughnan and Matthew Bencivengo with 10:16 remaining in the first period. The home team responded with a pair of goals from the opportunistic Kaali-Nagy to seize a 2-1 first-period edge.
Senior Danny Pratley and junior Alex McGarvey helped set up Kaali-Nagy’s first rebound goal, while Kyle Alle assisted on Kaali-Nagy’s second goal, which occurred with 4:00 left in the first period.
“I know my assignment to be in front of the net and to bang home rebound goals and that’s where I was,” Kaali-Nagy said. “Obviously, since they’re the No. 1-team in the state, bringing them to OT was a big deal to us.”
At the 11:11 mark of the second period, Notre Dame-West Haven’s Michael Pilato found room down the left wing, skated in and snapped a shot past GHS junior goalie Cole Studwell, making it 2-2. With 8:35 to go in the second period, John Donohue got loose on a breakout and tallied, putting the visitors on top, 3-2, in the back-and-forth matchup.
Late in the second period, Greenwich came alive offensively, with Kaali-Nagy (power play) and senior tri-captain Nate Duffy each tallying. Duffy’s goal with 1:29 remaining in the second stanza gave the Cards a 4-3 edge.
There were just 17 seconds showing on the clock in the second period when Matthew Stevens tallied the equalizer for Notre Dame-West Haven. A scoreless third period saw Studwell make several key saves to keep the game evened up at 4-4.
“You hate to see a goal the last 17 seconds of the second period, that hurt,” coach Duffy said. “But we played them scoreless in the third and we may have run out of gas a little bit in overtime, but overall, the effort was excellent. No shame in losing to them, I’m proud of their effort.”
Said Nate Duffy: “I think we’re over our five-game slump. We played well and I feel we switched our season and are now on a roll. It got tough during the five-game slump, but we kept the kids together and this is exactly what we need. I think we’re ready for the postseason at this point.”
Greenwich honored its seniors – Duffy, Kaali-Nagy, Brendan Frost, Francois Geraghty, Danny Pratley, Kevin Keaveney, Robert Grillo, Danny Windels, Daniel Greenbaum, Randall Feda, Shea Madden and Jack Ryan – with a Senior Night ceremony prior to the game.
“It’s really special for all the seniors out here,” said Frost a tri-captain/defenseman. “We’ve been waiting a long time to get out here and have a chance to play for this team, so it’s a good night to get together. We had a great team come out to play us here and it kind of sums up the whole experience.”
“This team is really good, we had the mentality that it was a tough game and we just had to play like it was the playoffs,” Frost continued. “We had a tough stretch before this and we came out and put up a really good battle for 45 minutes, plus overtime.”
Tri-captain/defenseman Shea Madden has been sidelined recently with an upper body injury. However, he is doing what he can to lead the Cards.
“It’s been nice seeing the process of the team getting better each day,” Madden said. To be on the bench and seeing everyone playing well is great. “I’m just try to be like an assistant coach out there helping out the defensemen.”
Coach Duffy is pleased with the senior leadership he’s seen throughout the season.
“I think they’re great kids,” coach Duffy said. “You look of all the effort they have put in this year – it’s great. They would rather have a better record this year, but their effort has been solid, their solid citizens and good kids and I’m proud of them.”
Indeed, the Cardinals believe they can make their mark in both the FCIAC and state tournaments.
“I know a beast is going to be awakened for these playoffs and I’m excited to see what we can do,” Kaali-Nagy said.
“At the end of the day, it’s playoff hockey,” Frost added. “You have to put the regular season behind you and play one shift at a time.”
Categories: Greenwich High, Winter sports
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