Rockville/Bolton/Coventry/RHAM Wins Key Conference Match at Newington

NEWINGTON-The Rockville/Bolton/Coventry/RHAM (RBCR) boys hockey team admittingly came out flat in Saturday night’s game against the Newington Co-op team, and found themselves trailing 1-0 after the first period. When the team entered the locker room between periods, Rams head coach Chris Stevenson told his players they must play with more intensity and then asked a question that they gave a powerful answer to.

“I asked them how they wanted to be remembered for playing tonight, and they came out fired up in the second and third periods,” Stevenson said. “They didn’t want to go down quietly.”

Junior Connor Morton and senior Kevin Bishop each scored in the second and third periods and the Rams defense shut down the Indians to earn RBCR (7-9) a 4-1 road victory. The win was sweet payback for the 6-2 drubbing Newington Co-op (7-10) gave RCBR early last month. It also broke a two-game losing streak for the squad.

Early in the first period, RBCR moved the puck decently and obtained a handful of good scoring opportunities, but either shot inaccurately or was thwarted by Indians goalkeeper David Mix. As it went on however, Newington Co-op improved its passing and beat the Rams to multiple loose pucks, while RBCR struggled with its passing. These factors culminated in a breakaway goal by Indians defenseman Aaron Lassen 8:13 into the first, who beat senior Connor McGrath to his right.

“After the first, coach told us we needed to step up and move our feet better as well as win loose pucks to win the game,” Morton said.

Morton and his teammates fulfilled Stevenson’s wishes and played more aggressively beginning in the second. On defense, RCBR did a strong job of bodying up on the Indians players and limiting their ability to move the puck. By doing so, the offense had more space to create scoring opportunities and took advantage of it. RCBR was able to generate multiple breakaway opportunities and regularly get the puck deep into the scoring zone, and consistently beat Newington Co-op to the puck because of its superior effort.

The Rams broke through and tied the game 5:46 into the second when Morton scored his first goal. Senior Paul Bates assisted on the score.

Paul was streaking down the left side of the ice and threw the puck in front of the net, and it just happened to hit my stick and go into the net,” said Morton with a grin on his face.

With 4:10 remaining in the period, Bishop then gave his team the lead when he beat Mix high and through his five hole on a laser shot from the right corner. Senior Nick LeGeyt earned an assist on the goal.

“Starting in the second, I thought our breakout play worked better and that we were able to get the puck out on the first try a couple of times, which slowed Newington’s momentum,” Stevenson said. “We’ve been trying to be more aggressive on offense and get goals at the net, and Connor was able to do that on the first goal and it got everyone fired up. After that, seeing a defenseman (Bishop) score and work that hard motivated everyone.”

RBCR carried the momentum over from Bishop’s first goal into the third, putting the game away quickly. Bishop made the score 3-1 2:21 into the period when he beat Mix in front of the goal following a tip off of an Indians player and a pinpoint pass from Morton. Just over a minute later, Morton scored to give the Rams a 4-1 lead, with LeGeyt earning a second assist.

The RCBR defense was even better for the remainder of the third, allowing the Newington Co-op players almost no room to maneuver and consistently altering passes. Throughout the match, McGrath was there to stop the puck when they did manage to get a shot on goal. He easily snatched head-on shots and used his athleticism to block shots to his side.

Stevenson praised the play of his third line, consisting of sophomore Ian Holm and seniors Tyler Hood and Calvin Tonzi.

“To me, our third line was really the difference maker,” he said. “They had their best game of the entire season.”

Bishop and Morton were clearly excited to gain an impressive victory against their rival.

“We had a tough loss the other day against E.O. Smith-Tolland, so we wanted to come out big here today and the score reflected that,” Bishop said.

“We haven’t beaten Newington in the longest time and this is the first time I have, so it feels great,” Morton said.

With Saturday night’s win, RCBR improved to 7-9 while moving up to ninth in the CIAC Division III standings. It officially needs one more win to qualify for the state tournament, but can still qualify with seven depending on the size of the bracket. Beginning Wednesday at Wethersfield-Rocky Hill-Middletown, the Rams will end the regular season with four matches in a week, all against teams lower in the division standings.

Morton and Bishop are focused on carrying momentum from the win into next week.

“This was a huge win against Division II team. We’re gonna keep looking to use our speed to get around the defense and get some goals,” Morton said.

“Tonight is great to prepare us for next week, and we’re gonna keep pushing and try to get that final qualifying win,” Bishop said.

 

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