NEW HAVEN — A dream finish has set up a dream state final for Wallingford hockey fans.
The Lyman Hall Co-op, seemingly out of luck as the Newington Co-op scored twice in the third period to shoot ahead 3-2, dramatically answered the call in Monday night’s second CIAC Division III semifinal at Ingalls Rink.
The Trojans scored twice in the final 2:44 to pull out a 4-3 victory that sends them into an all-Wallingford final with Sheehan back at Ingalls on Thursday at 7 p.m.
No. 4 Sheehan advanced with an 8-2 trouncing of top-seeded Daniel Hand in Monday’s semifinal opener.
That left all the tightrope drama for the No. 2 Trojans (17-7-0), who tied their game with No. 3 Newington (17-7-0) on a power play goal from Matt Pettit with 2:44 to play, then won it on Michael O’Toole’s goal with 1:14 left.
Pettit’s goal was his second of the night. The All-SCC junior opened the scoring after a scoreless first period.
Newington enjoyed a 10-4 advantage in shots on goal over the first 15 minutes, but quality chances on net were deemed even at two apiece. It was also a clean period, with so penalties called.
Pettit was stymied by Newington goalie Alex DiPaola late in that first period. That would not be the case in the second. Finishing off a rush with the Roberts brothers, Kyle and Jack, Pettit scored 2½ minutes into the frame to finally break the ice and put LH on top 1-0.
Kyle Roberts worked the puck into the zone on the right side. He slipped a backhand pass to his brother in the middle, who in turn slid the puck over to Pettit as he cut to the net on the left side. Pettit knocked it home with a little backhand tap.
Roughly five minutes later, T.J. Arduini extended the Trojans’ lead to 2-0. Kyle Roberts had an assist on that goal, too, as LH sharpened thoughts of an all-Wallingford state final.
Before the period was out, however, Justin Roberts cut the deficit in half for the Indians. His shot from the left point bounded through a screen in front and found its way into the back of the net.
That set up the fantastic third-period finish.
Halfway through, Kilian Ranger tied it. Lurking near the left post, Ranger was perfectly positioned when Spencer Pryzbeck’s wrister from between the circles clanged off the post.
Then, with just over five minutes to play, right after LH had killed off a penalty, the Indians struck for the go-ahead goal.
Again, it came on a rebound — this time on a rebound of a rebound. And this time it was Nick Deriu knocking it home.
Down 3-2, the Trojans still had time. They also had a power play, and they made the most of it.
Jack Roberts moved into the zone on the right side and set up shop along the boards. Waiting from Pettit to move down the slot, Roberts rifled a pass that Pettit one-timed home with 2:44 to play.
O’Toole’s game-winner followed 1½ minute later. He fired home a shot from the left side, setting the stage for the ultimate rubber match between two rivals who split games during the regular season.
“The boys were content at 2-0 and that’s not the right motive to have there,” said LH coach Rich Minnix. “Going down 3-2, our power play’s been dynamite all year and it’s just a beautiful thing, seeing a guy like Michael O’Toole, who puts his heart and soul into the game and grinds everyday at practice, get a game-winner right there.
“To be in the finals, we’ll see any team, but for it to be an all-Wallingford final with our Coginchaug and H-K friends with us will be a great time.”