NORTHFORD — Lyman Hall/Haddam-Killingworth/Coginchaug’s first period in Monday night’s first-round CIAC Division III hockey tournament matchup mirrored the bad habits the Trojans had in the first half of the season: very sloppy play with sub-par goaltending.
That slow start for the No. 6 Trojans did not keep them from picking play up in the second period and finalizing a 7-2 first-round win over No. 11 Norwalk-McMahon at Northford Ice Pavilion to advance to Thursday’s quarterfinals.
“We knew it was going to happen and, if we stayed on them and forechecked hard, they were going to take some penalties,” said Lyman Hall coach Rich Minnix.
In the first period, Norwalk-McMahon’s offense starting cooking early — 29 seconds early to be precise.
Liam Denke came streaking down the right side of the ice on Lyman Hall Co-op freshman goalie Andrew Sacco and picked the upper right corner over Sacco’s shoulder. Sacco was mispositioned and vulnerable for the high shot that he clearly wasn’t expecting.
T.J. Arduini knotted things up at 1-1 two minutes later off a bouncing puck in the crease that he was able to connect on.
Norwalk took the lead back though shortly after. Kevin Remson sat on an awkward position to the net and his shot snuck its way past Sacco.
“Sacco has got to be better,” said Minnix. “He’s got to be better in the first period and I got up in him between intermission and I think we are good moving forward.”
Norwalk’s second goal was obviously its last.
To end the first period, Josh Martinez scored and Kyle Roberts notched his first of three on the night to put LH up 3-2.
In the second period, Matt Pettit racked up two goals on beautiful shots that Norwalk-McMahon goalie Max Vitucci had no chance of saving. Add in a beautiful 2-on-0 play for Roberts and Scott Bradley, and the Trojans came out of the second period with a 6-2 lead.
A scare towards the end of the second period happened when Norwalk-McMahon’s Remy Gibson needed to be taken off the ice on a stretcher due to a hit in the corner. The ice was redone and the conclusion of the period was tacked on to the beginning of the third.
“We really hope Remy is alright,” said Minnix. “He looked alright when I went over there, but we are definitely worried about him.”
That chippiness rolled over into the third period, where the Lyman Hall Co-op’s goal was to leave the rink in one piece and be ready for the next round.
“I’ll take it if they can keep control of the game and not worry about any injuries moving forward,” said Minnix. “I’m OK with that.”
Roberts finished off his hat-trick with 7:17 remainin off of a clean backhand that beat Vitucci high glove side.
When all was said and done, the chippiness of the game rolled over to the handshake line that concluded the affair.
“At the end of the day we are a classy organization,” said Minnix. “We don’t want any of that going on and we told them that in the handshake line. We’ve got something to play for Thursday.”
The Trojans, now 15-7-0 overall, meet the winner of No. 3 Tri-Town and No. 14 in Thursday’s second-round at a neutral site.
Sheehan: The No. 4 Titans’ first-round game against No. 13 Daniel Hand at Choate finished past print deadline. Visit myrecordjournal.com for a full report from that game.