NORTHFORD — Led by the goaltending of Nick Maringola, the Cheshire Rams came away with a 3-2 SCC/SWC Division II win over the Lyman Hall Co-op Saturday at the Northford Ice Pavilion.
It went down to the wire as the Rams were able to hold on and improve to 2-0 while knocking last year’s Division III state champions to 0-2.
Maringola made 45 saves as the Trojans out-shot the Rams 47-13. Thor Novicelli scored two goals for Cheshire, including the one that wound up being the game winner.
“Wasn’t our best game,” said Cheshire head coach Anthony Giusto. “Lyman Hall is a very fast team and I think that we do a great job matching their speed. They did a lot of things — getting the puck out of the zone and chasing down our dig. They generated 40-plus shots just by their speed.
“We have a lot of things to work on,” Giusto added. “It’s early in the season and they exposed our weakness of not having a lot of team speed on defense, but we come out with a win. Sometimes you win games that you’re probably not supposed to, and this was one of the games that our goalie just won it for us.”
Thus, the Co-op’s 0-2 start is a little misleading. The Trojans have played very well in both games this season, first in Wednesday night’s 3-2 overtime loss to North Haven and again on Saturday against Cheshire.
Along with putting 47 shots on net, Lyman Hall played physical defense throughout all three periods.
“We moved the puck and they did everything that I asked them to, every single thing that we went over in practice,” said first-year LH head coach Dave Sagnella. “It’s just one of those games where you outshoot a team by 30 and you’re on the wrong end of it. It’s just the hockey gods weren’t with us today.”
LH controlled the puck for a good part of the first period, but Cheshire was the team that managed to get on the board first. Lucca Soderlund snuck a wrist shot into the top left corner to give the Rams a 1-0 lead that they held onto for the duration of the first period of play.
In the second, the Trojans again put lots of pressure on Maringola. They used their speed to blow by defenders and get clean looks on the net.
Matt Pettit managed to put one in halfway through the period to tie the game.
That tie would be short-lived. Cheshire scored twice with less than two minutes to go in the second period. A pair of goals by Norvicelli put the Rams up 3-1 heading into the third period.
There, the LH defense stifled the Cheshire offense. The Rams could not put any pressure on net to put the game away.
The Trojans, meanwhile, put a barrage of shots on the net, with only one managing to go in: Pettit’s second of the game.
Still trailing 3-2 and with the minutes dwindling, the Trojans pulled their goalie to put even more pressure on net, but couldn’t not get the equalizer.
“We knew going in that defense was going to be one of our weaknesses and giving up 40-plus shots in a game is nothing that we’ve done in a long, long time, so we know we had the goalie back there to bail us out when we need to,” said Giusto.
“We’re right about where we expected to be and we have a long way to go. We have to clean up our defensive zone, but it’s nice to get a win in a game like that.”
Said Sagnella, “Everyone showed up. I mean we could very easily be 2-0. We’re just not putting the puck in the net right now. Once that comes, I really think that we can make a run in Division II.”