ICE HOCKEY: Shake & Jake! Nafis nets OT winner and Southington savors fourth straight victory

CROMWELL — The Southington Co-op hockey team extended its winning streak to four and improved to 4-11 on the season with a 4-3 overtime victory Wednesday over the Shepaug Valley Co-op at Champions Skating Rink. 

Senior Jake Nafis scored the game-winning goal in overtime. 

“I saw that we got a good bounce, it came in, it was going far side and it ended up coming right to me,” said Nafis. “And I just shot it in.”

Southington-Coginchaug-Westbrook also got goals from Jackson Bafundo and Tyler Schmarr, who scored twice. Gabe Mohr was credited with two assists.

“It felt good [scoring two goals] and getting the team motivated coming off of a three-game win streak,” said Schmarr. “Tonight, we were looking for the fourth and, you know, having a rough start to the season, we really needed this win tonight.”

Southington Co-op head coach Bob Allan is happy to see his team’s hard work result in victories. This one came against a non-conference opponent that at 5-8, is also scrapping to get in the Division III state tournament.

“The things that people don’t see — how hard these guys work in practice, day in and day out; we’re here at 5 a.m. a couple times a week — and to see that work that they’ve put in in the practices pay off here in the games and watching things just come together at the right time has just been unbelieveable to witness these guys,” said Allan. 

The first period saw Southington get off to a 1-0 lead with Bafundo, a sophomore, scoring off an assist by senior John Frechette. The time of the goal was 8:40. 

It took less than three minutes for the Spartans of Shepaug Valley to tie the game in the second period.

After an initial shot was turned aside, Brodie Turner let off a laser that found the net. Noah Flynn was credited with the assist. 

Just 49 seconds later, the Blue Knights re-took their lead. Schmarr scored. The junior had a clear lane, crossed a defender and shot a dart from close that went high into Shepaug’s net.

The assist went to Chrisos Wheatley.

Southington led 2-1 and remained in control for most of the remainder of the period, outshooting Shepaug. That didn’t matter. The Spartans evened up the score with 1:50 left in the period. 

Entering the third, the game stood even at 2-2. Just over five minutes in, with 9:43 left, Shepaug took its first lead on an unassisted goal by freshman Matt Molleur. 

Those remaining 9 minutes and 43 seconds would be all Southington. Schmarr’s second goal, assisted by Mohr, tied the game with 7:03 left in regulation and forced overtime.

There, Southington needed only eight seconds of the allotted eight minutes to put the game away, with Mohr assisting Nafis.

“I was surprised it came in eight seconds, but in my heart, in my gut, I knew that we were going to seal that game,” Allan said. “We were applying pressure with our systems. Their goalie played well, but we were outshooting them at least 2-1 throughout the game and it was just a matter of time for us to pop that last one.”

Southington’s hot hand — the Blue Knights have scored 23 goals while allowing just 11 during their four-game streak — will be stayed a week. The Knights don’t play again until next Wednesday, when Northeastern pays a CCC South call to Champions.

Despite the hot streak, Allan isn’t taking anyone lightly, especially a Northeastern team that has taken its last two meetings with the Knights. At 3-9, Northeastern is also battling for one of the 16 state playoff berths in Division III.

“We haven’t beaten them yet in two years, so right now they're our toughest opponent,” Allan said. “We’re going to prepare for them just like we would any other game.”


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