WEST HARTFORD -- Emma Rosenstein's two goals in the game's final 64 seconds, including one with three ticks to go, spurred New Canaan girls hockey to an incredible 6-5 victory over Conard-Hall (11-6-1) last Wednesday.
The Rams (13-5-1) were propelled for much of the game by sophomore Catherine Granito, who recorded four goals of her own and pushed her season total to 46. Granito's final score handed New Canaan a 4-3 lead with 11:15 to go, when Mackenzie Lewis notched her team-high second assist. Later, Granito set up Rosenstein for the game-winner.
"We have a lot of history with that team in the state finals," Rosenstein said recalling last year's 2-0 New Canaan win over Hall-Conard that clinched the state title. "So, it's good to get them."
Caitlin O'Meara captained the Warchiefs scoring with three goals, all of which came in the final frame. Shortly after an Ameila Carroll hooking penalty at the 6:18 mark in the third, O'Meara lit the lamp for the second time on a feed from Kiernan Henderson and Lindsay Penn. Less than two minutes later, she sped down the right wing and calmly wristed a beautiful above the left shoulder of Ram goaltender Nathalie Deney for a 5-4 Hall-Conard edge.
Gifted with a chance to speak with his team one last time in regulation, Bulan decided to make his message very clear.
"The one thing we talked about was that if you shoot it at [Hall-Conard goalie Lauren Sorgio], she's going to make the save," Bulan said. "But if you make here move side to side and put people in front of her to make it hectic, anything can happen."
Freshman Reilly Reed initiated the improbable by firing a loose puck from the blue line down deep into the right corner, where it was then dug out by Granito and flung to Rosenstein. The junior forward took care of business in front, a feat she repeated one minute later to secure the victory.
"When we were down, Catherine said `Bring it in'," Rosenstein recalled. "And we did."
The third period deficit was not the only time the Rams trailed during the game, one originally scheduled for Tuesday night before it was moved due to school cancellations to the following morning.
Early in the second stanza, Hall-Conard collected back-to-back unlikely goals, courtesy of forwards Kiernan Henderson and Zaaidyn Lieberfarb. Granito quickly answered at the 8:47 mark to cut the two-goal margin in half, before any sort of flow or rhythm to the game was marred by seven penalties in as many minutes. New Canaan failed to take advantage of their multiple power play opportunities until the final stages of the period, when the sophomore tied the game in an unassisted effort.
As the clock wound down with under 10 seconds left, Granito and Lewis connected again to give the Rams their first lead of the game, one they would not see again until three seconds remained in the game.
What inspired such a remarkable comeback effort? Well, according to Rosenstein, it was nothing other than a century-old piece of wisdom from Babe Ruth.
"Never let the fear of striking out ever stop you from playing the game," she said.
Or, scoring a gamewinning goal.
New Canaan will wrap up its regular season this Friday at 5 p.m. inside Darien Ice Rink with a Senior Night contest against Wilton.