WEST HARTFORD - It didn’t take long for the cheers to ring out once Drew Booth’s name was announced with the starting lineup.
And the Hall-Southington ice hockey team had no plans of letting its senior captain, who missed Thursday’s CCC South semifinals game against E.O. Smith-Tolland, down.
It was last Saturday afternoon when the Hall-Southington hockey Twitter account tweeted, “Thoughts and prayers go out to our captain Drew Booth, left the game after a cheap hit with two black eyes and a cut running across his face. We’re here with you and are hoping for a speedy recovery. Get well soon kid #Prayfor9.”
Booth sustained severe facial injuries against Conard on Feb. 24, which was later revealed that he had sustained two fractured eye sockets, a broken nose and lacerations to the face. He underwent a six-hour neurosurgery on Monday.
“It’s like knocking out one of the four walls of your foundation on your house,” Hall-Southington head coach Brian Cannon said. “It may stay standing but it is not going to be stable. It’s a hole we can’t fill we can only hope to slow down the leak and try to turn things positive.”
Even though Booth was not on the ice, the Warrior-Knights were able to beat the Bucks 4-3.
Hall-Southington will continue on in the CCC tournament as it will play Enfield on Saturday.
As soon as the puck dropped onto the ice, one could tell the Warrior-Knights were not all there.
“We had a rough start and [E.O.] was able to get a pretty good lead on us early,” defenseman Richard Mitchell said. “It made us have to battle back. We took the time during the intermission to just fix the small things in our game and we came out on top in the second period.”
Down a goal heading into the second period, Hall-Southington’s Graham Kennedy was able to find the back of the net off of a pass from Jake Albert to tie the game 1-1.
Just 35 seconds later, the Bucks answered back, as Malcolm Lewis scored a goal of his own.
The Warrior-Knights were able to score twice more before the end of the period.
First, it was a pass from Miles Aronow to Mike DiPietro tying the game up once more at 2-2, and then the duo did it again as DiPietro found the back of the net for the second time off of another Aronow pass to take the lead.
Hall-Southington never trailed again.
“We really took over in the second period,” DiPietro said. “We really got into our movements and worked the puck down low, effectively and just played our game.”
The defensive effort was strong throughout the third period for both E.O. Smith and Hall-Southington as both teams were unable to score until the final minute.
With 1:03 left in the game, Mitchell scored off of a pass from Aronow, extending their lead. But before Hall-Southington could even celebrate, the Bucks’ Gavin Till scored a meaningless goal to cap off the game.
“We were tentative again [Thursday],” Cannon said. “I give some of the credit to E.O. Their kids always come out ready to play and they play hard. I think we have the skill advantage on them and thank goodness we got the score advantage on them just barely. We didn’t play terrible, but we played very tentative. That’s not our game we don’t thrive on that.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org