WALLINGFORD — When Ryan Brockett flicked his wrist to score the game-winning goal in the regular-season finale against Amity at Bennett Rink on March 15, he had no idea he had just brought 31 years of Lyman Hall hockey history full circle.
Taking advantage of a rare power play opportunity in overtime, the senior captain had set himself up in the slot, directly in the middle of the four Spartan skaters, and, with 1:19 left to play, sent the puck top-shelf on the goaltender’s stick side to secure a 5-4 win and the top seed in the SCC/SWC Division II Tournament.
On the ice, pure jubilation.
In the stands — or, rather, at home, thanks to COVID protocols — a sense of pride and nostalgia.
“Even before (the goal) I started thinking about it,” said Paul Brockett, Ryan’s father. “It was Lyman Hall versus Amity. It’s in West Haven. It was going into overtime. All the parallels were there.”
Unbeknownst to Ryan until later, his father had scored nearly the exact same goal for Lyman Hall in 1990.
On Saturday, Feb. 3, 1990, the Trojans traveled to Bennett Rink to take on the Spartans in the regular-season finale. For Lyman Hall, a win meant a trip to the postseason for the first time in 11 years. Amity carried a 4-9 record into the contest and wasn’t playing for anything more than its pride.
As the Hartford Courant reported in the next day’s paper, “Paul Brockett scored with three seconds left in overtime to give Lyman Hall-Wallingford a 4-3 victory over Amity Saturday … Brockett came from the corner to the front left side and scored on an assist from Victor Kidulas and Brian Weir.”
Also noted by the Courant, Brockett was a last-minute substitution playing right wing instead of left wing.
“He seemed to be the most rested,” said Bill Palmer, Lyman Hall’s head coach at the time. “I sent him out there with a minute remaining on the clock and he came on big.”
It was the same situation on March 15, 2021: same rink, same end of the ice, same two teams separated by one goal in overtime.
Same family — two, actually — separated by one generation.
“When I got home, I read all the texts from the family group chat that were telling me and I saw some articles that my grandma sent,” Ryan recounted. “It was just kinda cool that we had those parallel goals.”
The elder Brockett succinctly summed up the phenomenon: “Two big goals in overtime.”
Once the puck hit the back of the net on March 15, Ryan raised his arms and his teammates swarmed him. In particular, No. 16 Aidan Weir leapt onto his fellow captain. Like his father Brian, who had assisted on Paul Brockett’s score three decades prior, Aidan had assisted Ryan.
Yet another link in the chain of coincidence only sports can forge.
“I had absolutely no idea,” said Aidan, a Lyman Hall history buff by his own standards. “Obviously I wasn’t thinking about it during the game. My dad told me after that Mrs. Brockett sent him an article about it. I read it and thought it was so cool.”
“I said to myself, ‘Jeez, I remember beating Amity in overtime in West Haven when I was in high school,’” said Brian Weir.
Aidan, like his father, was a four-year hockey player for the Trojans. Brian, a sophomore at the time of the 1990 score, became team captain in his senior year, just as his son would.
Once Aiden’s time playing hockey for Lyman Hall comes to an end, whether that was Wednesday night in the SCC/SWC Division II semifinals or Saturday in the championship game, he’ll take the ice alongside his father.
The Trojans host a yearly alumni game to honor the history of a program that dates back to the 1970s. Former players and coaches convene at Northford Ice Pavilion for a friendly game to raise money for the current Lyman Hall squad.
Though COVID prevented the tradition from taking place this past year, the next time it occurs there will be four Brocketts: Ryan and his brother Alec, Paul and his brother Dave. There will be three Weirs: Aidan, Brian and Brian’s brother Kevin.
“It’s really special that a lot of the old Lyman Hall players stuck around and stayed in Wallingford,” Ryan Brockett said. “When the alumni game comes around, it’s everyone’s dad. It’s really cool.”
Fathers, once the young student-athletes they now watch compete, find themselves attending the same games and school functions as a result of their children. A bond forged in their youth continues on.
“That’s what you get with hockey. You get a lot of camaraderie, and it's a special sport,” Brian said. “It becomes a fraternity and a brotherhood.”
As their fathers and uncles can attest, that’s in the future for Ryan and Aidan, whose past includes Lyman Hall’s 2019 Division III state championship season. In the present, they have a tournament to finish.
Ryan’s goal against Amity was the defenseman’s first on the year. He snagged a second goal in the tournament quarterfinals last Saturday against Branford, also a 5-4 win. (Coincidence?)
While some of the past week has been spent reminiscing, the senior is focused on closing out his career on top in a conference event that, with no state tournament being held this year, looms extra large.
“It’s our tournament as far as we’re concerned and we’re just taking it game by game,” Ryan said.