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HOCKEY NOTEBOOK East Haven keeps postseason streak going

February 13, 2019 GMT

Two numbers jumped out on a tweet from the East Haven co-op boys hockey team Saturday night: 49, and 33.

Logan Hamilton made 49 saves in a 3-3 tie with Woodstock Academy, with Ricky Persico tying it up in the closing seconds. The point meant East Haven was going to the CIAC tournament for the 33rd year in a row under coach Lou Pane.

“I’m very fortunate to be able to have good kids since I came to start coaching at East Haven,” Pane said. “We’ve got the same kids willing to work hard, dedicated to the program. It’s nice to look back. Hard work pays off.”

From the CIAC’s tournament archive, it appears the last postseason without the Yellowjackets was 1979.

Hamilton has helped make sure that streak didn’t end here for East Haven (7-8-2).

With that guy, he gives us a chance every night with him in net,” Pane said. “The last couple of games, he’s played really well, kept us in the games to the end.”

Junior Alec Speirs leads a fairly balanced scoring list, Pane said, on a line with sophomore Dave Amatruda, with Cory Benni and Persico joining them at times.

“We don’t have many kids, only 14 kids,” Pane said. “But they all work hard at it. What stands out, when it comes to practices, when it comes to games, it’s the same kind of focus.

“That’s what makes us achieve. Every practice is the way they play the games.”

PANTHER PICKUP: The schedule hasn’t done and won’t do Masuk a lot of favors. Picking up a few wins was going to be crucial for a team with a strong goalie but not a lot of scoring.

So Will Ferraro’s overtime goal Monday night, after the Panthers surrendered a 2-0 lead to Newtown, was huge. At 4-12, Masuk needs to win out to assure itself a Division III tournament berth, but the fourth win at least eked the team into 15th place, playoff position for now.

“I think we’re competing,” first-year Panthers coach Andrew Sinibaldi said. “Even Lyman Hall, 6-3, wasn’t too bad; Nikita (Kuzmitski, a senior) had a hat trick. BBD, 2-1, I thought we dominated play most of the game, but their goalie, (Alex) Fernandes, stood on his head.”

It’s usually Masuk’s goalie doing that. Tag Weiss has averaged around 40 saves a game, Sinibaldi said.

“Our wins are because of him,” the coach said. “We haven’t been able to put pucks in the net. We’ve never scored more than three goals so far this year.”

The Panthers’ home finale is Saturday against Hand. They visit Wilton, North Branford and Norwalk to close it out.

POTENT PANTHERS: After losing two games to start the season, E.O. Smith has won 11 of the past 14, in the mix for a home game in the Division II tournament.

“We have a group of seniors that have played together for a long time, which is helpful,” coach John Hodgson said. “They grew up playing youth hockey, seven of them.”

They include all-state players Owen Stacey and Gavin Till.

Hodgson coach said it’s a close-knit team.

“I think they’re confident in themselves,” he said. “Not overconfident, but to have a confident team helps. We’ve played, in scrimmages or games, I think seven of the top-10-seeded Division II teams, and we know we can skate with all of them. We haven’t won every game, but we’ve been in every game.”

This year began with an end to a longstanding co-op with Tolland. Like NFI this year and Suffield/Granby/Windsor Locks last season, had the co-op stayed together, because of numbers, it would have been ineligible for the state tournament

“This year was never a big question. We’ve got a lot of seniors,” Hodgson said. “They left us in a spot where we’d have to tell the guys they can’t play the state tournament, which was the only way to keep the co-op together.

“We’ll see how it goes in the future.”

CAPALBO DAY: NBC Sports will air a feature on Charlie Capalbo and his family Sunday during its “Hockey Day in America“ broadcast. It is expected to air as part of NBC network’s (Chs. 4, 30) coverage of the Pittsburgh-New York Rangers game, which begins at noon. NBC also has St. Louis-Minnesota at 3:30 p.m., and Philadelphia-Detroit airs on NBCSN at 6 p.m.

Charlie Capalbo, former Fairfield goalie, is fighting cancer for a second time in two years. His brother, Will, donated bone marrow in a transplant that took place last week; Will, also a Fairfield goalie, shut out Norwalk in his last game before the transplant and hopes to return to play this season.

POSTPONED: Tuesday’s winter storm pushed off both games on an already slim schedule. Wilton will visit No. 2 Darien on Wednesday at 8:30. No. 9 Xavier travels up to face co-No. 3 Northwest Catholic at the ISCC on Thursday at 4 p.m.

mfornabaio@ctpost.com; http://twitter.com/fornabaioctp