New Canaan pulls away, topples Guilford in State quarterfinals
Updated 10:24 pm, Wednesday, February 29, 2012
STAMFORD -- The New Canaan girls hockey team got a good challenge from Guilford in Tuesday's State quarterfinal round at the Terry Conners Ice Rink, but the Rams eventually found their stride and pulled away with an 8-2 win.
Staked to a precarious 3-2 second-period lead, New Canaan turned the game dramatically in its favor in a seven-second span. Olivia Hompe scored two goals in a matter of seconds midway through the second period to increase the Rams' lead to 5-2.
Hompe ended up with six goals in the win, giving her a whopping 15 goals in three State playoff games. The win sent New Canaan into the State semifinals against Ridgefield on Thursday, but the result was not available at press time.
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If New Canaan defeated Ridgefield, it will play in the State Championship game on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Ingalls Rink at Yale University.
The Rams, who had beaten Guilford 5-0 during the regular season, were controlling the flow of the game but were clinging to a small lead before Hompe took over.
"It was pretty close. I think we were really dominating the game at that point. We just had to put our shots in," Hompe said.
Only 56 seconds after Guilford's Edy Moritz scored her second goal to cut New Canaan's lead to 3-2 in the second period, Hompe took a centering feed from Holly Burwick and found the back of the net for a little breathing room and a 4-2 lead. Off the ensuing faceoff, Hompe took the puck, weaved through the defense and scored to make it 5-2.
Throughout the game, the Rams kept the puck deep in Guilford's end and the forwards did a nice job of getting the puck out to the open point players.
"Offensively, I like what we did. We moved the puck. We did a lot of good things," New Canaan coach Rich Bulan said.
The Rams took leads of 2-0 and 3-1 but only led 2-1 after one stanza. By the end of the second, it was a 6-2 game.
"It's really a team effort," Bulan said, adding that Hompe's linemates and the second line players all helped wear down Guilford's defense.
Burwick scored twice and added a pair of assists. Corbett Ripley and Abbey Buckenheimer all had three helpers.
Bulan said he wants to see his team stick to its style of play, which is to dump the puck, chase it down and set up plays once inside the offensive zone. He noted that the Rams got away from that at times in the win over Guilford. The coach would also like to see his players do a better job protecting the puck in the defensive and neutral zones.
Ridgefield is not a team the Rams, which lost only once this season in a 4-3 setback to Simsbury, will overlook. New Canaan beat Ridgefield twice, but each game was close as the Rams notched victories by scores of 3-1 and 4-2.
"That's one of those teams that matches up very well against us," Bulan said.