New Canaan falls just short against West Hartford in State Championship game
NEW HAVEN -- Sudden death overtime is always chalk full of tension and pulse-pounding moments, but when there's also a state championship on the line, the game goes to a whole new level.
Still tied after 45 minutes of play, that was the exact situation facing the New Canaan and West Hartford girls hockey teams.
West Hartford's Emily Corrales scored on a breakaway 9:38 into the sudden death overtime period to give her team the Connecticut Coaches Association girls hockey state title. With New Canaan swarming in the West Hartford zone, Corrales forced a turnover, skated up the center of the ice and scored a top-shelf goal for the win, as New Canaan's bid for a three-peat as state champs fell just short.
"I saw the puck, intercepted it, went around a girl and I saw the top right corner and sailed it in," Corrales said. "We knew we had to keep going. We went as hard as we could in overtime, and it worked out."
Corrales' heroics may not have even been necessary had it not been for New Canaan's exceptionally strong play in the third period. Trailing 2-0 after two periods, the Rams stormed out of the blocks to start the third.
Operating on the power play, New Canaan's Holly Burwick cleanly won the faceoff to Olivia Hompe, who sent a pass to Abbey Buckenheimer. Buckenheimer released a wrist shot from just inside the blue line past West Hartford goalie Lauren Sorgieo to cut the lead to 2-1.
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"We came into the building knowing that we had a real battle on our hands because New Canaan has a strong team. We have a deep team, so we were able to stay with them, and Lauren Sorgieo stood on her head today to keep us in the game,"
"We obviously started off not as strong as we would have hoped. Between the second and third periods, we were talking about how we've gone out and scored big in other periods through the year," Carroll said. "Abbey got a great goal, and tying it was exhilarating. We were trying to work on screening their goalie because she's really talented."
Each team had an opportunity to win the game at the very end of regulation. With 20 seconds remaining, Carroll sent a long pass down the center of the ice to spring Hompe on a breakaway, but Sorgeio made a kick save to preserve the tie.
"I was so scared (on the breakaway). I would hate to lose the game like that with so little time left," Sorgeio said. "Being a goalie playing in overtime is the scariest thing ever. There's a lot of pressure, but we were able to do it."
With just two seconds left in the third, West Hartford took a close range shot at the New Canaan net, but Britt Gardella came up big with a glove save to send the game to overtime.
The score would stay 1-0 until just 1:08 remained in the second period when Racheal Aronow and Juliana Bailey-Simao assisted Caroline Kuzoian for a power play goal and a 2-0 lead heading into the third.
"As far as character goes, I could not ask for more. Down 2-0, a lot of teams would have caved. This was the time to show what kind of character we have," New Canaan coach Rich Bulan said. "We couldn't let the game get out of hand, and we wanted to show why we're here year after year. You can't ask for anything more."