Memorable Season Ends in Overtime for Glastonbury

NEW HAVEN-Entering Wednesday night’s Division I Tournament semifinal against Greenwich, Glastonbury hockey had been on a memorable run, with overtime victories in the CCC North championship game and the first two rounds of the tournament. Unfortunately for the Tomahawks, they found themselves on the other end of an overtime thriller this time.

Greenwich forward Kristian Cunningham scored in sudden-death overtime to give the top-seeded Cardinals a 5-4 victory over fourth-seeded Glastonbury at Ingalls Rink.

After Glastonbury (19-5-1) took a 4-3 lead with 8:25 remaining in the third period on a goal by junior forward Adam Yeager, Mike Mozian knotted the score just over two minutes later when knocked in a rebound past goalie Kyle Thibodeaux. After both defenses clamped down for the remainder of regulation, the stage was set for an exciting and painful overtime.

The Tomahawks offense immediately pushed the tempo and put pressure on the defenses. 3:12 seconds into OT, it briefly appeared that they were going to the finals when they pushed the puck past Bryan Archino during a scrum in front of the goal. However, the goal was called off because the whistle was blown prior to it entering the net.

“We kind of dominated play in the first two minutes,” Glastonbury head coach Ken Barse said. “We had them bottled up on their end and had a lot of scoring opportunities. The whistle blew, the puck went in. It’s just one of those deals.”

The Cardinals wasted no time responding. After bringing the puck down to the other end, a scramble ensued in front of the left post. Cunningham corralled the puck on a rebound after it had slipped under Thibodeaux’s glove and took advantage of him being out of position, beating him low at the 3:46 mark to send his team to the finals.

“There was a mad pileup in front and they scored. It was just one of those crazy goals,” Barse said. “A game like this could have gone both ways. Both teams never quit.”

With two of the state’s top-ranked teams and some of its best players facing off against one another, the semifinal was highly anticipated. The game was exciting and fast-paced throughout, and no lead was safe.

The Tomahawks got off to a strong start. They struck first 2:51 into the game when senior forward Logan Underwood whipped a shot past Archino from the right circle. Fellow senior forward Tyler MacLean earned an assist on the goal. Although Greenwich tied it at 1 with 5:26 remaining in the first on a goal by Brian Silard, the Glastonbury offense continued to move the puck well and put consistent pressure on Archino and his defense. This paid off a second time with 1:08 remaining when Yaeger stole the puck inside the blue line before beating Archino high in the left corner. For the period, the Tomahawks had 10 shots on goal to the Cardinals 4.

“In the first, they were sitting back and watching our offense to see what we would bring, and we took advantage of it,” Underwood said. “Our style is always to start off a game like we’re down a goal and play aggressively.”

The second period was more physical and back and forth. The increased aggressiveness of the Greenwich offense resulted in goals by Cunningham and Makenzie Larson at the 7:15 and 4:46 marks. Cunningham’s wrist shot beat Thibodeaux to the right, and Larson gave the Cardinals a 3-2 lead with a goal low and to the left of him.

“This was just one of those games where the puck bounced their way. We made a couple of mistakes and their offense was very opportunistic,” Barse said.

“They had a lot of scoring opportunities in front of the goal,” Underwood said. “We have a lot of faith in Kyle and he’s a great goalie, but when the puck bounces in front of the net or to the side like it did it’s almost impossible for anyone to stop it.”

As they had in their previous tournament games, Glastonbury maintained its focus and continued to play well in the third despite trailing. They benefited from a controversial call on Underwood’s tying goal early in the period. While his shot 2:49 in appeared to hit off the right post, the officials huddled and determined it was a goal.

The Tomahawks continued to put Greenwich on its heels in the following minutes before Yaeger broke through with his second goal to give them the lead. He outraced a pair of defenders on a break and smacked the puck past Archino. Glastonbury could not convert on their remaining scoring opportunities in the period, and the defense ultimately could not silence the Cardinals.

“We couldn’t hold momentum all game,” Barse said. “Greenwich is a well-coached team, and they just kept coming.”

Thibodeaux finished with 17 saves, while Archino recorded 23.

The Tomahawks defeated Northwest Catholic 2-1 in overtime in their opening round game and Notre-Dame Fairfield 3-2 in double overtime in the quarterfinals.

“Being able to come back and take these tournament games to overtime shows the dedication of our players and that we never give up,” Underwood said. “We’ve been preparing all season for these tournament situations, and we gave everything we had.”

Glastonbury certainly has plenty to be proud of about this season. In addition to its 19-5-1 overall record, the team won the CCC North regular season and tournament titles and advanced to the Division I semifinals for the first time since 2012.

“We had a great season despite losing a lot of players from last year. Winning the division was a huge accomplishment for us, and I’ll always remember this great playoff run we had,” Underwood said.

“In the locker room afterwards, I told the kids they had an unbelievable season. When they walk out of here, I want them to reflect on all that they did this year,” Barse said.

Logan Underwood tries to get around a defender. The senior forward scored twice.

Logan Underwood tries to get around a defender. The senior forward scored twice.

Tyler MacLean battles a Greenwich player for the puck.

Tyler MacLean battles a Greenwich player for the puck.

Christian Mack lies in wait  for the Greenwich offense.

Christian Mack lies in wait for the Greenwich offense.

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