WEST HAVEN — The Sheehan hockey team won its first SCC/SWC Division III championship Saturday afternoon with an 8-3 win over Brookfield-Bethel-Danbury at West Haven High School’s Edward L. Bennett Arena.
“It’s definitely icing on the cake for the year,” said Sheehan coach Festa. “To finish the year and going into the states with that momentum and finishing up with an almost complete game today. It was nice to come back in the third period and play our game and push the pace.”
Prior to the game, the SCC/SWC honored Festa with the Division III Coach of the Year award, the second of his career. Alongside Festa was Lyman Hall senior Scott Bradley, who was named SCC/SWC Division III Skater of the Year.
Add it up and Wallingford had a D-III hat trick on Championship Saturday in the SCC/SWC. So did Sheehan senior captain Nick Gonsalves, who scored three goals to lead the second-seeded Titans (18-4) past No. 4 BBD (8-13-1).
“It’s cool to look up to him,” freshman Luke Festa said of Gonsalves’ performance. “I don’t just look up to him, but all the seniors, and they are all really good to us.”
Luke Festa got the Titans rolling on Saturday with the first goal of the game. It came less than two minutes into the opening period when the freshman streaked down the side board and threw the puck at the net looking to connect with one of several Titans bunching up in front.
Instead, Festa’s pass hit off a BBD defender’s stick and deflect past goalie Stephen Fanning.
“It felt pretty good,” said Luke Festa. “I got pretty lucky, but I feel pretty good about it.”
Gonsalves got his first of the night 54 seconds later and Dayton Allderige added one of his own to give the Titans a 3-0 lead heading into the first break.
In the second period, a penalty shot for BBD’s Colin Macnevin proved to be not a problem for Sheehan goalie Tyler Robertson, who finished the game with 18 saves and was named the SCC/SWC D-III Player of the Tournament.
Patryk Fancher scored the first BBD goal after a little time dripped off the clock following the penalty shot. Fancher’s goal came off of a bouncing puck Robertson couldn’t corral.
When Tom Scheisser’s point shot at the end of the second found its way through traffic out front, it looked like BBD was making a game of things.
Then the Romano twins came into play to spark a five-goal third period.
A beautiful tip out front by Joe Romano directed the puck into the back of the net exactly three minutes into the period. Gonsalves tapped his second home just 45 seconds later and Anthony Romano received a beautiful pass from Joe just minutes later to give the Titans a 6-2 lead with over 10 minutes remaining.
Tanner Trew netted BBD’s last of the night at 7:47, but an Alex Ficorilli goal and Gonsalves’ third of the night countered that and built a monumental gap.
“Both of those guys were clicking today, so it was good to see them getting rewarded and get their goals,” Coach Festa said of his defensemen.
When the final horn rang out, the Titans celebrated, but they did not throw helmets, sticks or gloves. With the start of the CIAC Division III Tournament looming on Monday, they knew their job isn’t done.
“We have that mentality this year that we are really looking to make a statement in the next four games,” said Coach Festa. “One of the things is that we wanted to go out with confidence and class as well. After a lopsided game like that you want to make sure that you’re showing that type of class after the win. It was nice.”
The Titans, seeded No. 4, open the state tournament at home Monday at Choate at 8 p.m. They face No. 13 Daniel Hand (5-16), a team they beat 7-2 in the regular season and 6-2 in the SCC/SWC semifinals.