New Canaan pulls away from Greenwich to reach FCIAC final
STAMFORD — With nine days elapsed since its last game, New Canaan could have come into its FCIAC semifinal rusty, or well-rested.
From wire-to-wire it was obviously the latter for the No. 2 Rams, who ousted sixth-seeded Greenwich 7-2 Wednesday night at Terry Conners Rink in Stamford.
“It’s the first time I’ve experienced it,” New Canaan coach Pat Gore said of the long layoff at the end of the season. “Talking to (Ridgefield coach Shaun Gallagher) we were trading ideas about keeping guys ready… when we moved the puck we were dangerous, but there were a lot of nerves. We have a lot of seniors, but we’ve never been in this position before.
“You could tell they were a little nervous, but as the game went on we started to find our game more and more so hopefully we bring that to Saturday.”
The Rams will need to be at their best Saturday as they take on No. 1 Ridgefield at Terry Conners at 2:30 p.m. The Tigers are the only team to beat New Canaan twice this season, both by 3-1 finals.
“Ridgefield is a very good team,” Gore said. “They’re a lot like us, they play a lot of different ways, they can play physically or with speed. It doesn’t really matter who we play, it’s nice for the fans that we’re playing Ridgefield — all year in the FCIAC we’ve had very strong year, so when you get to this game you want to see a game where the teams are very even.”
For a large chunk of Wednesday’s contest the score was even, even if the play wasn’t.
The Rams dominated offensive zone time early, but Greenwich’s Alex Presley (37 saves) stood on his head, turning away the first 19 shots he faced.
With 2:34 to go in the first, Ram captain Tyler Hill went coast-to-coast, beating two defenders and burying a wrister from the right circle for a 1-0 lead.
“After it went in I was like, ‘This is the start of the game here,’ ” Hill said. “This is where we roll.”
Hill wasn’t wrong, nor was he finished.
Five minutes into the second Hill connected on his second goal, the beneficiary of some nifty tic-tac-toe passing on a Rams power play.
Greenwich made the game 2-1 when Owen Johnson tallied off a behind-the-net feed from JT Lawrence, but New Canaan answered with Anton Adding cleaning up a rebound in front off a Hill shot with just :54 remaining in the second.
“Anytime you give up a goal at the end of the period it sucks a little bit of life out of you,” Greenwich coach Chris Rurak said. “I still thought we were in good shape even at 3-1 because it’s not foreign territory for us, we were just there Saturday night (against Fairfield, a 5-4 OT win) and we weathered the storm and came back. The kids battled hard…sometimes it’s your night and sometimes it’s not — can’t take anything away from the effort of the kids, New Canaan is a very good opponent.”
The third period scoring got underway when Teddy Hood went to dump a puck in from the red line, but got a break on a bounce and tallied, making it 4-1 New Canaan with 10:34 to play.
Just 11 seconds later, Ryan Hart would score and juniors Chase Glover and Griffin Arnone notched goals of their own in the period.
Greenwich’s Nicolas Pelletier-Martinelli scored on a pretty backhander in front at the 2:22 mark.
“We haven’t had a lot of success,” Hill said of his career at New Canaan in the FCIAC tournament. “We want to come out and win this. This is huge, this is our final year and the rest of the team knows it too. This is one of our best chances and they want to win it as much as the guy next to them so that’s a great thing.”
On the other hand, Greenwich will get a chance now to take a step back and catch its breath before the state tournament begins next week — and Wednesday gave a glimpse into what the Cardinals can do better before then.
“We have to get the puck out of our end and get the puck deep,” Rurak said. “And we didn’t do any of that tonight.”
NEW CANAAN 7, GREENWICH 2
GREENWICH 0 1 1—2
NEW CANAAN 1 2 4—7
Goals: G—Owen Johnson, Kevin Wright; NC—Tyler Hill 2, Anton Adding, Teddy Hood, Ryan Hart, Chase Glover, Griffin Arnone. Assists: G—JT Lawrence; NC—Drew Morris, Hill, Michael Grise, Robert Ker, Quinn McMahon. Goalies: G—Alex Presley (37 saves); NC—Peter Windas (11). Shots: G—13; NC—43.