ICE HOCKEY: Turnaround the turning point? Kaplan scores in LH debut as Trojans win second straight

NORTHFORD — Following their 7-3 victory over the Milford Co-op on Saturday, the Lyman Hall Trojans extended their winning streak on ice to two with a 4-2 SCC/SWC Division II victory over the Branford Hornets on Monday at the Northford Ice Pavilion.

Monday’s final marked a major turnaround. On Dec. 31, at the same rink, LH lost to Branford 7-0.

“We played less intimidated than when we played them early on in the season,” said Lyman Hall head coach Dave Sagnella. “We’re young, they’re senior-heavy and I think a lot of our kids that game were very timid and we’ve come a long way since then.”

They’ve also added the services of junior Cam Kaplan, the Xavier transfer who played his first game with LH after sitting out the first half of the season per CIAC transfer rules. He got the Trojans on the board Monday.

LH built a 2-0 lead in the second period and then struck twice more in the third after Branford rallied to tie.

“I thought the first period we were flying,” said Sagnella. “After our timeout in the third, we played harder and earned it. It was good to come back from a 7-0 loss to a 4-2 win.”

Sophomore Dylan Shadle, junior Alec Brockett and senior Jimbo Cohrs also scored goals for Lyman Hall (3-7-1). Senior Colin Deane and sophomore Michael Loomis scored for the Hornets (6-7-0).

The game started off with the Trojans controlling the pace. Although no goals were scored in the first period, Lyman Hall out-shot Branford 17-7 and had more opportunities to score.

Perhaps the best opportunity of the period, however, came around the 12th minute. Branford’s Colin Deane had a clear path for an open shot but ran into a Trojan defender and got knocked down to the ice.

Heading into the second period, each team was searching for their first goal and three wound up being scored.

For Lyman Hall, it only took a minute of searching. Kaplan scored his first career goal with the Trojans unassisted to put LH up 1-0.

Kaplan was grateful to score in his season debut with the Trojans after sitting out the first 10 games.

“It felt great, I was waiting awhile to hit my first one. The first period I was running off of adrenaline, then I shook it off,” said Kaplan. “It’s going to be fun based off of that game. I can’t wait to play more with this team.”

“We’ve been looking forward to it,” Sagnella said of Kaplan’s debut. “He’s been practicing with us for the first half of the season. We’re hoping that he gives us a spark. We don’t want him to be the savior — that’s not his role; we play as a team — but it’s good to have another body to help us out, and he did so.

“We’re looking forward to him making some noise.”

Both teams would exchange possessions stymied by hard defense for the next eight minutes. Right before the 10th minute of the period, Lyman Hall extended its lead to 2-0 when Shadle knocked home a nice pass from Cohrs.

A key moment for the Hornets came right before the period ended. With 30 seconds remaining, Branford got on the scoreboard with a goal from Deane assisted by Loomis to cut the deficit to 2-1.

Branford’s momentum carried forward into the final period. After Shadle got called for a tripping penalty, the Hornets took advantage with a power play goal from Loomis set up by Jack Linder to tie the game 2-2 with a little over seven minutes left in regulation.

Lyman Hall responded. With four minutes remaining, the Trojans re-took a 3-2 lead. Nate D’Amico assisted Brockett, who nailed a shot deep that tipped off of goalie Dante DiLeggeDiLegge’s glove and into the goal. 

Cohrs put the icing on the cake with 12 seconds left with an empty-netter.

“To get revenge it felt really nice and to keep the goal streak going it felt really good,” said Cohrs, who has six goals in Lyman Hall’s last three games. “I got the puck at the blue line and there was only one guy in front of me. I made one little move and popped it in.”

Now the Trojans will get a four-day rest before facing Glastonbury (3-7-1) in a non-conference game Saturday at Trinity College at 7:30 p.m.

“I think this is our first time playing Glastonbury in about 10-12 years,” Sagnella noted. “They’re always on top of D-II. It should be a great game and I’m just going to keep preaching this to the team: work hard, work hard and things are gonna happen.”


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