March 14, 2014 12:59AM
By Michael Guerrera
HARTFORD — Thursday’s CIAC Division III hockey quarterfinal between Sheehan and Tri-Town, the second game in a doubleheader at Trinity College, was a little late in starting.
It was even later in finishing.
Deadlocked after 80 minutes of playing time, No. 11 Tri-Town slipped past the No. 3 Titans 3-2 when Tyler Hughes punched home a loose puck in front of the Sheehan net 5:05 into the third overtime.
Tri-Town (9-11-1) will have four days to recover its legs before meeting No. 2 Newtown in the semifinals at Ingals Rink. For Sheehan, which was looking for its first state semifinal berth since 2008, a memorable season is over at 15-7-1.
The Titans, down 2-0, forced overtime by scoring two goals in the first five minutes of the third period. Sheehan goalie Carly Femniak kept hopes alive for the Wallingford squad by stopping a breakaway in the second OT.
In the end, though, Sheehan’s inability to clear a rebound out of the crease led to the game-winner.
The goal made a victor out of Tri-Town goalie Alex Bliesener, who stone-walled Sheehan through the first two periods of regulation as the Knights built a 2-0 lead.
Tri-Town got its first goal midway through the first period. Femniak got turned around after stopping an initial shot from Jason Miller and Ryan Bialy was able to find the back of the net.
Tri-Town pushed its lead to 2-0 late in the second period one second after Sheehan had killed off the one penalty of the game to that point. After Femniak withstood a barrage of shots, the puck found Tri-Town’s Tom Burgess on the left wing, who went top right shelf just as Dylan Beaudoin, called for a cross check at 11:04, was coming out of the penalty box.
At the other end, meanwhile, Bliesener was a stonewall in the Tri-Town net. While the Titans weren’t passing as crisply as Tri-Town, Bliesener was making sure they came up empty on every scoring opportunity they got. That sent the T-Men into the second intermission down 2-0.
Bliesener’s shutout, however, would not hold. Sheehan came out of the locker room as a completely different team for the final period, playing with extreme urgency, and it paid off almost immediately.
Mike Cerrotti, set up by Paul Gozzo, cut the gap in half 1:27 in. Just over three minutes later, at 4:41, Sal Gozzo tied it off assists from the Beaudoin brothers, Colin and Dylan.
Momentum rode solely with the Titans for the rest of the third period. With their one-on-one play, they really began to dominate.
Yet despite having a number of chances, Sheehan couldn’t net the game-winner in regulation. Bliesener was still hanging tough in net.
Sheehan with all momentum going into the first overtime, but Tri-Town wound up with the better chances, especially when it picked up its second power play when Paul Gozzo was called for tripping at 6:30. It was a penalty worth taking. It interrupted a Tri-Town breakaway and the Titans wound up killing the man disadvantage.