CIAC ICE HOCKEY: Late surge settles Division III final between Woodstock and Hall-Southington

CIAC ICE HOCKEY: Late surge settles Division III final between Woodstock and Hall-Southington


NEW HAVEN — Do not let the score fool you on the Hall-Southington Warrior-Knights’ 7-3 loss to Woodstock Academy in the CIAC Division III championship game Saturday morning at Ingalls Rink.

The game was back and forth and hard fought on both sides until the bitter end.

Ultimately, Woodstock’s three-headed monster of Cal Wilcox, Ryan Black and Nathan DeLuca was too much as the top-seeded Centaurs overpowered the No. 6 Warrior-Knights with a barrage of four consecutive goals in the final period to pull away.

“I thought we showed a little bit of fatigue today,” said Hall-Southington coach Brian Cannon. “I don’t think we consistently looked tired as the game went on, but we did at times.”

The Warrior-Knights play a high intensity forecheck. They pressure teams in their own zone and force turnovers. Against a well-oiled machine like Woodstock, however, that pressure needed to be consistent.

Saturday’s championship clash was the third meeting of the season between these two teams. They had split one-goal games in the regular season. Woodstock’s 3-2 loss to Hall-Southington in West Hartford on Feb. 6 was its first, and one of just two, on the year for the 23-2-1 Centaurs. The Warrior-Knights finished 12-10-3.

The first period was played completely even, with neither team cracking the scoreboard. That is, until the final four seconds, when Woodstock’s Black caught a pass from Avery Riva on a 2-on-1 break and roofed it passed Hall-Southington goaltender Zach Monti, who finished with 26 saves.

“He made some big saves,” said Cannon of his starting goalie. “We can’t generate attacks like they do. We just didn’t have anything that matches [DeLuca and Black].”

In the second period, Woodstock extended its lead to 2-0 thanks to a Riva goal. That margin didn’t last long. The Warrior-Knights’ Jacob Mohr responded two minutes later to cut the lead in half.

DeLuca didn’t let Hall-Southington’s excitement last long with a goal of his own.

Turns out the game was just getting started between these two. Hall-Southington drew a ton of steam off Mohr’s second goal of the game that came in the dying seconds of the period.

Woodstock fans yelled that the horn had sounded. Hall-Southington fans yelled it was a good goal. Eventually, the refs sided with Hall-Southington. It was 3-2 heading into the final frame.

Hall-Southington’s momentum carried from the second period into the third. Just nine seconds into the final frame, Jeremy Fortin, with the help of Mohr, beat Wilcox for the Warrior-Knight’s third goal of the game. Everything was knotted up, 3-3.

The ice stayed tilted heavily in favor of the Warrior-Knights. Wilcox was called upon to make some crucial saves. With 10:45 left, Hall-Southington went on a power play.

The go-ahead goal would not be forthcoming, at least not for the Warrior Knights. With just nine seconds left on the penalty and 8:54 to go in regulation, DeLuca roofed a short-handed goal put Woodstock up 4-3.

It started a four-goal burst for the Centaurs that put the game away.

“I thought our kids played the way we wanted them to play for the most part,” said Cannon. “The turning point was a poorly executed power play, which turned into a shorthanded opportunity for Nathan.

“That was the running point. That was when we started running around and making mistakes.”

The Centaurs left Ingalls with smiles on their faces and championship medals around their necks. As for the Warrior-Knights, they should not hang their heads. Appearing in their first state final as a co-op, they made a statement and cemented themselves in the top two of Connecticut’s Division III.

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