NEWINGTON - The Newington boys ice hockey co-op picked up their third win against the Rocky Hill-Middletown-Plainville-H-K co-op this season, beating the Terriers 5-2 to advance to the quarter finals of the Division III State Tournament.
Newington, the tournament’s second-seeded team, will face off against 10th-seeded Staples on Thursday in the quarterfinals.
Junior Joshua Grimm brought forth the first goal for Newington without assistance as both teams managed to score within the first eight minutes of the first period. Junior Tyler Poulin evened the score less than a minute later, matching Grimm with an unassisted goal.
Newington head coach Dave Harackiewicz was impressed with the performance of both teams in the first period that ended with a tie of 1-1.
“We expected to come out really strong in the first and try to attack them.” Harackiewicz said “They did a great job in the first period of holding us down. In fact, that was probably the best I’ve seen them playing the first period.”
In the second period, Newington took the lead over Rocky Hill thanks to unselfishness from senior Tyler Leavitt, who assisted in both of Newington’s second period goals. Junior Harrison Ranger got a head start on the first goal of the second period with assists from Leavitt and fellow senior Nickolas Giotsas less than two minutes into the period.
Leavitt connected with junior Evan Oliver just under the halfway mark of the second period for Newington’s third goal, giving the team a two-goal lead it never looked back from. Senior Blake Blackwood found that Newington was able to maintain the shot opportunities in the second period after a pep talk following the first-period tie.
“We got off to a pretty slow start one on one at the end of the first period but after the first period we went into the locker room, we got all our game plan and came out strong to finish the game,” Blackwood said.
Blackwood also said playing good defense was one of the more important aspects within their third game against Rocky Hill.
Newington’s offense continued to thrive in the final period, as it added two more goal to bolster their advantage. Junior Andrew Stribling made the first goal with the assistance of Grimm and junior Michael Deegan eight minutes into the third period. Junior Evan Howard delivered the final blow, scoring just outside of the final two minutes off assists from Grimm and senior Braeden Humphrey.
Feeling the pressure to make a late comeback, Rocky Hill senior Jacob Nelson put a goal on the scoreboard to make the score 4-2, but it all the Terriers mustered as their season came to a close.
Rocky Hill coach David Dubos found that the main strategy for the team was to remain consistent and comfortable with their systems in any situation that comes their way on the ice.
“I think we’ve been working on consistency of our systems and getting more and more consistent and drilling them in practice in different scenarios, so they’re comfortable in different situations.” Dubos said, “And that grows their confidence in executing.”
NEWINGTON 5, ROCKY HILL 2
Rocky Hill 1 0 1- 2
Newington 1 2 2- 5
Goals: Josh Grimm (N), Tyler Poulin (RH), Harrison Ranger (N), Evan Oliver (N), Andrew Stribling (N), Jacob Nelson (RH), Evan Howard (N)
Assists: Tyler Leavitt (N) 2, Nickolas Giotsas (N), Josh Grimm (N) 2, Gabe Boily (RH), Braeden Humphrey (N)
Records: Newington 18-4, Rocky Hill 6-14-1