BOYS HOCKEY Home cooking
GREENWICH — With senior goalie Ben Nash turning away nearly every shot that came his way, the Greenwich boys hockey team didn’t need too much offense to prevail in its home-opener on Wednesday night.
A 34-save performance from Nash and a two-goal first period did the trick for the Cardinals, who earned the first of what they hope, is many victories.
Strong goaltending and a fast start sparked Greenwich to a 3-1 win over FCIAC rival New Canaan at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink. The win improved Greenwich’s record to 1-0-1. New Canaan’s record stands at 1-3.
The Cardinals’ junior goalie made 11 saves during the second period and nine in the third, after stopping 14 shots in the opening period.
“When you have a goalie like Ben Nash, one of the best goaltenders in the state you can lean on him,” GHS coach Chris Rurak said. “He’s a little bit underrated, because he doesn’t make the flashy save, since his positioning is so good. He is always in the right place at the right time. Dylan Shane, their goalie did a great job as well.”
Shane registered 26 saves for the Rams.
“We keep talking about playing a complete game and we’ve yet to do that,” Rams coach Clark Jones said. “I loved the pace of our play the second and third, but we have to do that the whole game. When we establish our forecheck we play simple, fast hockey and we are tough to play against.”
Greenwich took a 1-0 lead with 10:54 remaining in the first period on senior Sean Pratley’s goal. Pratley found himself alone in front and finished a feed from senior forward and fellow captain Charlie Graves.
“I was coming off the bench, we were at a midline change and Charlie Graves stole te puck in the corner,” Pratley said of his first goal. “He found me and I was able to go from forehand to backhand right in the net. We have been playing on the same team together since we were five, so we have that special connection.”
Senior forward Matt Davey, also one of the Cardinals’ captains, extended Greenwich’s lead to 2-0 when he tallied off a rush up the ice with 3:10 left in the opening period. Freshman forward Wesley Zolin was credited with the assist.
Behind the aggressive play of senior left wing Gunnar Granit o, the Rams threatened to tally several times during the second period. But Nash, who was supported well by defensemen Andrew Frost and Ryan Columbo held the visitors off the scoreboard. The Cardinals killed off a pair of penalties during the period.
“We kept the puck out of the net and I can’t thank my ‘D’ enough,” Nash said. “I saw the puck well tonight, Frost, Dylan (Madden) and Columbo did a good job of keeping the net away from the front of the net. We knew our defense was going to be strong, we lost a lot of scoring from graduation last year. It’s a strong point of our team and we are going to take pride in it all year.”
New Canaan made the game very interesting when senior left wing Jack O’Hare snuck a snap shot past Nash from the right face-off circle with 3:26 to go in the third period. Junior Sam Augustine set O’Hare up for the tally, which was the only one the Rams could manage.
The Rams pulled Shane (26 saves) in goal with over two minutes remaining and Pratley scored an empty-netter with 1:19 left to play, making it 3-1.
“The double threat with Pratley and (Jake) Shredders is a daunting task for a defensive core, because they are so fast on the outside,” Rurak said. “This is a good gauge to see where we are in the FCIAC and how we measure up to our opponents.”
Said Nash: “New Canaan is an awesome competitor and it was nice to see how we ranked against one of the best teams in the state.”
GREENWICH 3, NEW CANAAN 1
NEW CANAAN 0 0 1 — 1
GREENWICH 2 0 1 — 3
Records: Greenwich 1-0-1; New Canaan 1-3; Goals: NC — Jack O’Hare; G — Sean Pratley 2, Matt Davey; Assists: NC — Sam Augustine; G — Charlie Graves, Wesly Zolin 2; Goalies: NC — Dylan Shane (26 saves); G — Ben Nash (34 saves).