Bucks Roar Into Div. III Hockey Finals

Peter Mayer scored two first-period goals to lead a balanced offensive attack that propelled E.O. Smith-Tolland to an 8-1 victory over Shepaug-Litchfield-Nonnewaug in the Div. III ice hockey semifinals Tuesday at Yale University.

Seven different Bucks scored goals, while 11 players recorded points.

“We knew we had more depth than they do, but we also knew they have some really talented players,” Bucks head coach John Hodgson said. “We were able to key on some of the things they do, especially Andrew Loya and Christian Stuart. We really focused on how we defended those guys and let our offense do the work.”

Mayer got things going with a wrist shot into the top corner of the net just 3:05 into the contest. A backhander by Josh Barnes made it 2-0, then Mayer made a great fake to maneuver around a Spartan defenseman in the final minute of the period to give the Bucks a 3-0 advantage at the first intermission.

James Petrella, Dylan Coughlin and Jake LeFevre scored in a 5:10 stretch of the second period to put the game out of reach.

The Spartans’ Griffin Smith ruined the shutout bid in the opening minute of the third period, but the Bucks tacked on goals by Stavros Evripidou and Dillon Perras to earn its second straight berth in the championship game.

David Apgar had three assists for the winners, while Cameron Burns added two. Barnes, LeFevre, Perras, Coughlin, Evripidou, Sean Benjamin and Kyle Penney each picked up single assists.

“We have total confidence in all three of our lines, and tonight they all chipped in,” Hodgson said.

Goaltenders Matt Schoen and Wayne Perras, seeing his first postseason action, combined to stop 22 shots.

“Wayne’s a senior who’s been with us for three years, and he’s been down here for nine periods now and it was time for him to get in,” Hodgson said. “We have total confidence in him, he’s played great this year, but unfortunately for him he’s playing behind an All-State goalie.”

E.O. Smith-Tolland will tangle with No. 2 Masuk in the title game Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Ingalls Rink at Yale. It is a rematch of last year’s semifinal tilt, when the Bucks knocked off the then-top-seeded Panthers, 3-2.

Masuk played more than 10 minutes of overtime before eliminating No. 3 Westhill, 4-3.

“Masuk is very talented and has most of their guys back,” Hodgson said. “We have the utmost respect for them, and we’ll have our hands full, but hopefully they will too.”

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