NEWINGTON - Even 36 minutes of action-packed play wasnâ€™t enough for the Central CT Capitals (Newington) and Simsbury in the opening round of the Nutmeg Games 14U boys ice hockey tournament.
The two teams combined for 35 shots on goal, but neither was able to find the back of the net Thursday afternoon at Newington Arena. The game ended in a 0-0 tie, giving each team an early point in the standings.
â€śI think our guys looked like they still had their summer legs,â€ť Newington head coach Alex Rodriguez said. â€śSo I think they started to feel the gas tanks running out halfway through the game.â€ť
The Capitals put the pressure on Simsbury early, but slowly eased up throughout the game. They started the game with 10 shots on goal in the first period, followed by six in the second and four in the third. Newington also had four separate breakaway opportunities with an unguarded shooter.
â€śWe had a lot of opportunities throughout the game to score and we just couldnâ€™t get the puck in the net,â€ť Rodriguez said. â€śThose guys worked hard to get those breakaways and get that open ice. But their goalie did a heck of a job and their defenders back-checked, which made it tough for us.â€ť
Despite the lack of scoring, Rodriguez still complimented his teamâ€™s play on the offensive end, citing their positioning and their â€śuse of open iceâ€ť while in control of the puck.
But the star of the night for the Capitals was goaltender Jacob Markowitz. He had 15 saves in the game, the biggest coming in the second period.
With 5:01 left in the period and Simsbury on a power play, Markowitz made a diving save with the entire left side of the net wide open, bringing his entire team up off the bench. Simsbury had four shots on that penalty alone, all tossed away by Markowitz.
â€śI felt really comfortable in the net, considering it was our first game of the season,â€ť Markowitz said. â€śI was pretty nervous in the beginning since I havenâ€™t skated in awhile. I was worried about how the team would do, since we are a new team. But I knew that if they did their job, I would do mine.â€ť
The defense was the one area of concern for Rodriguez following the game. He only played four defensemen and was pleased with the way they hung in the game. But they also allowed plenty of scoring chances for Simsbury, which is something he believes should improve with more ice time.
â€śIâ€™m hoping that the lines get a little more cohesive with each other,â€ť Rodriguez said. â€śIâ€™m looking for the kids to work on the system that we put together for them. I think they donâ€™t know each other very well yet and are still getting use to playing with each other. Itâ€™s not flowing like a nice machine yet. So itâ€™s just about developing that cohesiveness.â€ť
The defense was put to the test against Simsbury all game long as Newington committed four penalties throughout the game. Despite success on all four penalty kills, Markowitz believes the defense in front of him can improve.
â€śI think defense is something we can still improve on,â€ť Markowitz said. â€śJust clearing the puck and getting it out of the zone easier. We were good today but you can always touch up on some things early in the season.â€ť
The Capitals still have two games left before the medal round on Sunday. But theyâ€™ll have to make adjustments quickly, with games each of the next two days.
â€śI think overall our guys played hard,â€ť Rodriguez said. â€śWeâ€™re a new group of guys who donâ€™t have a ton of experience playing with each other. But we held our own. And I think in another day or two, we beat this team.â€ť
Tyler Roaix can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org