Ridgefield holds off New Canaan in hockey battle
Published 11:05 am, Thursday, February 13, 2014
RIDGEFIELD — Take away the first period of Wednesday’s hockey showdown between fourth-ranked New Canaan and fifth-ranked Ridgefield, and you have two evenly played, hard-fought periods of hockey.
But that first period was all Ridgefield — it was the best period his team has played all season, coach Shaun Gallagher said — and it was enough to propel the Tigers to a 5-4 victory at the Winter Garden.
Ridgefield scored three goals in the period, two on the power play, and led 3-1 heading into the second. New Canaan drew to within a goal twice after that, but never managed to score the tying goal.
“The issue is we have to come out and play three periods, not one and a half or one and three-quarters,” New Canaan coach Bo Hickey said. “Maybe Ridgefield played that well that we looked that bad at times. Ridgefield is a good hockey team.
“Being second to the puck doesn’t cut it,” Hickey added. “If you’re second to the puck in your end, you’ve got problems. And again, not taking anything away from Ridgefield, we were second to the puck because they were faster getting to the puck.”
Brad Alexander scored two goals in the first period — with a goal by Kyle Wolfarth sandwiched between them — and Sam Sarath scored two goals 51 seconds apart in the third for Ridgefield.
“New Canaan is a rival game, and the boys are always ready for that,” Gallagher said. “It’s always a battle.”
The Tigers nearly let a three-goal lead slip away in the third period, but held on thanks in large part to goalie Patrick Sheehan-Delany, who was razor-sharp in making 21 saves. He made several huge saves in the final minutes as New Canaan scrambled in an effort to score the equalizer.
“He’s a very athletic kid and, as the year has gone by, his focus and his confidence have kept getting better and better,” Gallagher said. “He certainly came through for us today.”
Ridgefield and New Canaan will likely claim the second and third seeds, respectively, in the eight-team FCIAC tournament, meaning they could meet again in the semifinals.
Alexander put Ridgefield on the board first at 4:35 of the first period, scoring off a pass from Jamie Kelly.
New Canaan tied it less then two minutes later when Lewis scored on the power play off assists from Reinhardt and Begoon. Ridgefield’s Jack Tregurtha was in the penalty box serving a tripping minor.
Ridgefield took the lead for good at 8:45 of the first period when Kyle Wolfarth scored on the power play off a pass from Tregurtha. Moments earlier, New Canaan goalie MacLean Wright was whistled for a delay of game penalty after he gloved a long Ridgefield shot, skated toward the corner, perhaps anticipating a whistle — which never sounded — and casually punted the live puck over the glass.
Alexander scored again in the final minute of the first period to make it 3-1 Ridgefield. Sarath and Kelly assisted on the power-play goal while New Canaan’s John O’Rourke was in the box serving a high-sticking minor.
Reinhardt gave the Rams a huge boost five minutes into the second period with a goal off passes from Begoon and Lewis to cut the deficit to 3-2. New Canaan began building some momentum of its own as the second period wore on and entered the third period on the power play after Ridgefield’s Paul Garlick was called for roughing in the final minute of the second.
Lewis ripped a shot off the post from the left faceoff dot in the opening minute of the period, but Ridgefield killed off that penalty, then got a power play of its own seconds later when New Canaan’s James Franzis was whistled for tripping after he took down Tregurtha on a rush.
Sarath scored on that power play off passes from Kelly and Garlick, then scored again less than a minute later off passes from Tyler Trombetta and Garlick to make it 5-2 Ridgefield.
But New Canaan was far from finished.
Begoon’s blast from the blue line through traffic beat Sheehan-Delany to make it 5-3 with 5:22 to go. Hompe and John McMahon assisted. And with Ridgefield’s Callan McCormick serving a high-sticking minor, Hompe buried the rebound of a Begoon shot from the blue line to make it 5-4 with 2:39 to go. McMahon assisted on that goal as well.
New Canaan pulled Wright in favor of an extra attacker in the final minutes, but to no avail. Ridgefield’s Garlick won two defensive-zone faceoffs down the stretch to help secure the win, and Sheehan-Delany withstood a barrage of shots.
“Especially in the last few minutes of the game, they were really peppering me hard and I had to stand strong,” Sheehan-Delany said. “The team played great team defense in front of me, so I have to give a lot of credit to the team.”
NEW CANAAN1 1 2 — 4
RIDGEFIELD3 0 2 — 5
Records: New Canaan 11-4-1; Ridgefield 14-3.
First period: 1. R, Brad Alexander (Jamie Kelly) 4:35; 2. NC, Parker Lewis (Peter Reinhardt, Maxwell Begoon) ppg., 6:14; 3. R, Kyle Wolfarth (Jack Tregurtha) ppg., 8:45; 4. R, Alexander (Sam Sarath, Kelly) 14:20.
Second period: 5. NC, Reinhardt (Begoon, Lewis) 10:00.
Third period: 6. R, Sarath (Kelly, Paul Garlick) ppg., 2:16; 7. R, Sarath (Tyler Trombetta, Garlick) 3:07; 8. NC, Begoon (Patrick Hompe, John McMahon) 9:38; 9. NC, Hompe (Begoon) ppg., 12:41.
Goalies: NC—MacLean Wright (16 saves); R—Patrick Sheehan-Delany (21 saves).