Perfect 10: New Canaan boys' hockey team remains unbeaten
By Jon Chik
DARIEN -- The New Canaan Rams made it a perfect 10-for-10 to start the 2010-11 season by picking up a 6-1 victory over the Ridgefield Tigers on Monday night at the Darien Ice Rink, snapping Ridgefield's five-game winning streak in the process. For the fifth time in as many games, the Rams won by at least four goals.
For the second straight game, New Canaan survived a slow start in the opening period. The Rams were assessed three minor penalties in the first period, but goalie Tim Nowacki picked his teammates up by making several difficult saves to keep the Tigers off the scoreboard.
"We knew they were a great team, and we just threw the first period away. That was garbage," New Canaan's Reed Harper said. "In the second and third period, we really showed up."
Nowacki's first big stop came on a breakaway by Ridgefield's Jack Christensen. Then, Ridgefield's Terry Guilder rang a slapshot off the right post. Ridgefield applied tremendous pressure on its power play opportunities, but Nowacki refused to yield a goal.
"If it wasn't for him in the first period, we may have been chasing three or four [goals]," New Canaan coach Bo Hickey said. "He held the fort for us until we got rolling. We got rolling at the end of the first. We were hanging around in the first period and we're going to learn - I hope not the hard way - about hanging around in the first period."
The Rams didn't take long to find their groove early in the second period as Henry Corcoran beat Ridgefield goalie Eric Seel by roofing a shot from short distance at the 3:35 mark. Charlie Corcoran and Reed Harper assisted on the play.
Ridgefield had a golden opportunity to get the equalizer when they received a 5-on-3 power play opportunity, but the penalty killing trio of Tom Krieger, Brian Tohir, and Henry Corcoran turned the Tigers away.
With their team on the penalty kill, brothers Henry and Charlie Corcoran would team up again just six minutes after New Canaan's first goal by executing a textbook give-and-go. Henry Corcoran sent a pass over the stick of Ridgefield's defenseman to Charlie Corcoran, and as soon as Seel committed to Charlie, Charlie slid the puck back to Henry who tucked it into the net for the 2-0 lead.
Just over two minutes later, Dylan Hart made it 3-0 after the puck took a favorable New Canaan bounce off the boards. Hart sent the puck through the five-hole with PT Prins and Tyler Manchuck collecting assists on the play.
"I was at the side of the net and the puck was in the high slot, we took a shot, it deflected off one of their players and bounced behind the net back in front, and I just ripped it at the empty net," Hart said.
Reed Harper scored New Canaan's second short-handed goal of the contest by converting on a breakaway opportunity to make the score 4-0.
Ridgefield finally broke through with just 20 seconds remaining in the second period when Vin Rella picked up a "stuff in" goal following a scramble in front of the New Canaan net. Corey Dunn and Johnny Richards were each credited with an assist on the play.
Any thoughts of a Ridgefield rally were emphatically dashed by Harper, who scored the only two goals of the third period to pick up the hat trick. The first was unassisted and Krieger and Charlie Corcoran each picked up an assist on the second.
If there's been any blemish to New Canaan's perfect start, it's been the amount of time the Rams are spending in the sin bin, as the Rams were assessed seven minor penalties on the night. Though he acknowledged that the penalties are a bit of an issue, Hart seems to feel that he and his teammates are capable of correcting the trend.
"It is a concern because for the first period we were down a man for three fourths of it," Hart said. "But I think it's something that we can easily fix. Most of them have been retaliatory."