boys hockey Rams rally for win over NFI
DANBURY — A long layoff might have contributed to a slow start by the New Canaan boys hockey team against a tough opponent. That was the topic of conversation after a sluggish first period.
The rust, however, slowly wore off the longer the game went. By the end the Rams had found just enough to seal the win.
New Canaan twice rallied from two goals down to topple New Fairfield-Immaculate 4-3 in a matchup between two top-10 teams on Thursday. Jack Johnson scored the game-winning goal in the third period for New Canaan, which improved to 3-3.
“A lot of guys were talking about heavy legs after the first period, I felt it myself,” said Rams senior Gunnar Granito, who scored twice. “It was definitely noticeable; we practiced 40-second shifts in practice but it’s different from a game. You can tell, we came out a little bit slow.”
Johnson broke a 3-3 tie with 5:18 left, smashing a rebound from a shot from the wing. No. 8 New Canaan then drew a penalty to run two minutes off the clock, and preventing No. 10 NFI from generating any opportunities until the dying seconds with the goalie pulled.
“Once we started to move our feet and established our forecheck, we were difficult to deal with,” New Canaan coach Clark Jones said. “We were starting to get traffic in front of the net; we finally got some traffic and worked harder the second half of the game.”
NFI controlled play early and built a 2-0 lead, appearing to be heading towards a statement win. The Rams’ defense clamped down, though, and allowed just 11 shots over the final 30 minutes. New Canaan struck three times in the second; Granito finished off a breakaway to make it 3-3 going into the third.
Special teams became the primary method of offense for both teams as the Mustangs took six minors and the Rams had four. NFI scored twice on the power play while the Rams had a tally and a second goal come seconds after a man advantage.
“As important as it was to get them up on the power play, taking penalties is what killed us tonight,” Granito said. “Most of the penalties were out of the defensive zone, they weren’t doing anything for us.”
Mustangs goalie Scott Dobos finished with 26 saves. NFI (3-2-2) had its three-game win streak stopped.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Sam Mitchell, NFI: The senior standout fired a hat trick in the defeat, scoring twice on the power play for the Mustangs.
“We knew it was going to be a test,” Jones said. “(NFI) has done very well out of the gate; we’re a fast team and we have to put pressure on team to be successful. We knew we were going to come into a dogfight.
NEW CANAAN 4, NEW FAIRFIELD-IMMACULATE 3
NFI 2 1 0 — 3
NEW CANAAN 0 3 1 — 4
Goals: NC—Gunnar Granito 2, Sam Ives, Jack Johnson; NFI—Sam Mitchell 3. Assists: NC—Carter Ellis, Boden Gammill, Bennett Ong, Jack O’Hare; NFI—Joe Robinson, Tim Hayden, Zach Conboy. Goalies: NC—Dylan Shane (16 saves); NFI—Scott Dobos (26 saves).