WEST HARTFORD - The season opener did not go the way the Hall-Southington hockey team had hoped for.
Especially when Saturday’s game against Tri-Town came down to the final minutes of the final period.
With 4:59 left in the third, the TerrorCats’ Andrew Gaines went on a breakaway from one end of the ice to the other, putting the deciding goal past Warrior-Knights goaltender Zach Monti to hand Hall-Southington a 3-2 loss.
“I’m not disappointed in the game that the kids played, they played pretty well,” Hall-Southington head coach Brian Cannon said. “[Our players] controlled 80 percent of the game. I don't think Tri-Town had three minutes in our zone across the whole spread of the game. But they got the bigger number on the scoreboard.
“It’s a little disappointing, it’s a little frustrating because I thought we thoroughly controlled the game from start to finish.”
But it wasn’t until 9:22 remaining in the second period, down 1-0, the Warriors-Knights were able to find the back of the net despite 17 shots on net in the first period.
Drew Booth provided the goal to tie the score at 1-1 off a pass from Jacob Albert. The senior defenseman ended up scoring both of his team’s goals.
“We’re not a good particular scoring team,” Cannon said. “We can go out [and] play pretty hard, defend, battle well, but we’ve never been a great scoring team and that’s where it gets us. Today, we had a lot of opportunities, we had a lot of time in their zone, we’re commanding the ice in most cases and we came up short a goal.”
Hall-Southington had multiple scoring opportunities throughout the length of the game. The Warrior-Knights took 49 shots on goal - 25 more than Tri-Town - and only came away with Booth’s goals.
The TerrorCats, however, responded quickly to Booth’s goal. A little over two minutes later, Connor Roberts gave Tri-Town the one-goal advantage off of passes from Andrew Gaines and Zach Roy.
Booth then came through with his second goal of the afternoon with 5:16 left in the period.
With Hall-Southington deep in Tri-Town’s zone, Booth took a pass from Mile Aronow and sunk both himself and the puck in the net to tie the game at 2-2.
“We had great offensive pressure in front of the net,” Booth said. “The goalie couldn’t see any of that so I give credit to our forwards. I have no idea what happened with that second goal, I just remember the puck coming off my stick then forwards jumping in the air.”
But besides the trouble finding the back of the net, one of the big reasons the Warrior-Knights struggled was they found themselves in the penalty box quite often.
Mason Woods and Nathalan Zmarlicki sat in the penalty box together - Woods sat for two minutes for a slash at 11:43 while Zmarlicki also sat for two minutes for high-sticking at 8:43 - to give the TerrorCats a 5-on-3 advantage for just over a minute in the second period.
“We killed ourselves with penalties,” Cannon said. “In the second period we had to fight off three liners. And it hurts us because we’re running some of our stronger guys and they’re having to work really hard just to break even. When they had fresher legs the first one or two kills early in the game we were the offensive controlling guys on penalty kill.”
Hall-Southington goalkeeper Zach Monti finished the day with 11 saves, while Tri-Town’s Zach Vargo had 13. But the Warrior-Knights were never able to make another serious push after Gaines’ goal in the third period despite 15 shots on net.
“I think we need to work on putting the puck in the net to begin with,” Booth said. “We had control of the puck in the zone most of the game we just couldn’t finish when we needed too.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org