ICE HOCKEY: The Fraternal Force is with the Titans in D-III showdown

ICE HOCKEY: The Fraternal Force is with the Titans in D-III showdown

WALLINGFORD — Even when the Sheehan hockey team’s offense isn’t firing on all cylinders, the Titans can rely on the chemistry of the Romano twins.

Joe Romano’s goal from his brother Anthony with 1:10 to play Monday lifted Sheehan to a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over New Milford in a SCC/SWC showdown at Choate’s Remsen Arena.

The Titans trailed 1-0 after one period and entered the third down 2-1 before scoring twice to improve to 7-1-1 overall and remain atop the CIAC Division III playoff rankings. New Milford fell to 5-3-1 and slipped to No. 4 in the points.

On Wednesday, the Romanos both scored twice to help Sheehan beat previously unbeaten Division II Daniel Hand 5-4 in overtime. Anthony Romano had the game-winner in that one.

On Monday, Sheehan tied New Milford with 10:16 to play on Joe Richo’s goal. On the game-winner, Joe Romano then took a feed from his brother to the left of the net and beat Green Wave goalie Lee Conlu.

“We know where each other are,” Joe Romano said. “I knew when he looked up, he was going to pass it to me. We have that connection.”

“We set up systems and I knew that he was going to be on that side,” Anthony Romano said. “I just gave a quick look to make sure he was open and fed it through.”

In a battle of top-five Division III teams postponed by Saturday’s snow, the Titans trailed the fourth-ranked Green Wave 2-0 in the second period despite controlling the game’s tempo. Conlu frustrated Sheehan through two periods, stopping 24 of 25 shots.

Sheehan would eventually outshoot New Milford 37-20, which came as no surprise. The Titans came into the game with 50 goals on the season. Monday’s three were their season low.

Until its third goal, Sheehan was in danger of dropping its first game to a Division III team this season.

“We didn’t start off well at all,” Joe Romano said. “We weren’t working our hardest at the beginning. We came out flat, but at the end we got a goal when we needed it.”

Sheehan head coach Dave Festa said his squad switched tactics in the third period. Instead of peppering Conlu with shots from the point and beating the Green Wave on rushes down the ice, the Titans cycled the puck around Conlu and got plenty of traffic in front of the New Milford net.

As a result, Sheehan got several point-blank shots. Conlu, however, was up to the task — until the Romanos hooked up.

From behind the net, Anthony sent a pass to Joe, who beat Conlu over his right shoulder from just inside the left circle.

“They have a certain chemistry that just clicks,” Festa said. “Today, maybe they were just a half-step off, but they know when it’s time to step up. They are going to determine the outcome of a game.

“It was a hell of a shot,” Festa added. “We got the goalie moving side to side; there was a small area (for Joe). It just worked out well.”

As for falling behind 2-0, Festa credited Conlu, but also felt his team didn’t come out with the right mentality. He said it could have been a residual effect of Sheehan’s dramatic win over Hand, but wouldn’t make excuses.

 “We were back on our heals from the get-go,” Festa said. “We weren’t connecting. We were just not in the flow of the game. 

“Their goalie did a great job. He made some key saves. It made us grip our sticks a little tighter.”

Then came the third period and, said Festa, “ We got into the flow; we were buzzing. We knew it would come.

“But that was a C-minus effort for us. It just wasn’t there. It was kinda a lesson learned for us. Teams are going to come after us. We have a big target on our back.”

While down 2-0, the Titans killed off a pair of New Milford power plays in the second period before Devin Napoli cut the Sheehan deficit to 2-1 with 4:06 to play in the second period.

Napoli stuffed a rebound past Conlu off a shot from the point by Joe Ramano.

“That was lucky for us that they weren’t able to capitalize on those two power plays,” Festa said. “We took that momentum and tilted the ice a little more. I really think our defense played well today. They were a very disciplined team. I give them a lot of credit.”

New Milford coach Scott Capriglione agreed with Festa.

“We got some shots on the second (power play) and settled down, but we seemed to be rushing a little,” Capriglione said. “The kids battled hard today.

“(Sheehan) is a great team. They’re aggressive; they cycle nice down low. They get teams running around and that’s what separates them from everyone else.

“They attacked all game,” Capriglione added. “We just had a little breakdown, left (Romano) open and he put it in. That’s going to happen. They are going to capitalize on those types of mistakes.”

After Conlu stopped 10 shots, the Green Wave took a 1-0 lead with 1:15 to play in the opening period. Sheehan goalie Justin Lyon allowed a rebound that Ian Donahue converted into a goal. Sheehan outshot New Milford 12-7 in the first period.

The Green Wave made it 2-0 less than five minutes into the second period when Cam Schopfer rushed up the ice and flicked the puck past Lyon with 10:34 to play in the period.

 “We came out with a way better mentality against Hand. That’s the mentality we have to come out with against everyone, because everyone is coming at us,” Anthony Romano said.