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South Windsor Overmatched Against Cheshire - TheSportsDept.com

South Windsor Overmatched Against Cheshire

By Danny Atkinson

MIDDLETOWN – South Windsor hockey was hoping to end its recent struggles on Monday night against Cheshire at Wesleyan’s Spurrier-Snyder Rink. The Bobcats were never able to find consistency and outplayed by the Rams in all areas, resulting in a 2-1 loss.

South Windsor fell to 9-8, while managing to stay in fourth place in the Division II state standings. Cheshire improved to 10-4-1 and fifth in Division II, just eight points behind the Bobcats.

The loss was the fourth in five games for South Windsor. Over the same period, the Rams have four wins.

“We don’t have any automatic wins. Going forward, we have to battle for everything to play our best,” Bobcats assistant coach David Huniston said.

Cheshire established their control immediately, scoring just 1:51 seconds into the game. South Windsor goalie Devin Trombley was out of position after having to block a shot amid a crowd of Rams players, and forward Joey Delucia fed their top scorer Niklas Vasiljevs right in front of the goal, who fed the puck into the empty net.

After the Bobcats aggressive defense and Trombley managed to hold CHS scoreless for the remainder of the first period, Vasiljevs struck again. The forward was able to skate out ahead of defenders and received a pinpoint pass from defenseman Kyle Sheenhan, proceeding to beat Trombley low with 4:34 remaining in the period.

After falling behind 2-0, South Windsor’s final scoring attempt of the period found some luck. The offense gained the puck with almost no time remaining and forward Dante Colon fired a shot into a crowd of multiple defenders, with the puck hitting the stick of defenseman Ryan Fehrer and entering the right corner of the goal just before the buzzer sounded.

With its improved defensive play and goal, the Bobcats looked to have momentum entering the third and the opportunity tie the game and possibly even take the lead. However, the Cheshire defense bucked down and South Windsor rarely possessed the puck for a significant amount of time.

The aggressiveness of the Rams defense possibly could have benefited the offense, as it resulted in penalties and several power-play opportunities for the Bobcats. Despite this, they were able to only gain two shots on goal. Players were frequently forced into the corners next to the boards, and multiple shot attempts and passes were inaccurate. The two shots on goal were stopped easily by Nick Maringola.

“We had a few power-points in the third but it only led to two shots,” Huniston said. “I think we struggled to move the puck and got too close to goal, making it difficult to set up shots. We were rushing things and it led to few opportunities.”

“In that third period, we just weren’t getting the puck in front of the net even when we had advantages,” forward Connor Smith said. “It was difficult for us to get open and find spacing.”

South Windsor struggled to create a potent offensive throughout the night. In the first two periods, many of their possessions were short. Players were frequently unable to discover quality passing lanes and gain open shooting opportunities, especially in front of the net. Quality shots were also regularly wide, and passes either off line or blocked by defenders. When Maringola did make saves, many of them were not extensively difficult.

In the second, the Bobcats had slightly better scoring opportunities but missed on all. Forward Cameron O’Connor was wide on a shot 30 seconds in, a second one was saved roughly a minute later, and Maringola saved head-on shots at the 5:13 and 0:30 marks.

“The Cheshire defenders consistently back ended our guys and kept the puck away from the middle. We were unable to get the puck near the neutral zone and take shots in front of the goal,” Huniston said.

“It was a little difficult for us to skate on this ice, while Cheshire plays their home games here and is very used to it. They moved faster. Our guys were always getting forced into the corners, and we couldn’t get the puck in front of the net,” Smith said.

The South Windsor defense played well after what Huniston characterized as a slow start. The defenders were aggressive and able to regularly beat Rams players to pucks, as well as block passes and shots and swipe pucks away from them. Huniston also said the Bobcats played the net well starting in the second period, and there were multiple times in which their ability to do so denied Cheshire from obtaining shots despite being very close to the net. Trombley was outstanding in goal for South Windsor. The senior, who averages roughly 20 saves per game, made 32. Many of these saves were difficult, with Trombley making athletic and diving saves.

South Windsor finished with just 16 shots on goal, compared to Cheshire’s 34. 

After suffering tough losses to E.O. Smith and Cheshire, South Windsor will have two more regular season games against quality opponents in East Catholic and Glastonbury, both rivals. It will also face Suffield/Granby/Windsor Locks (SGWL). The Bobcats are looking to improve its level of play and gain momentum heading into the Division II state tournament. Smith was blunt what asked what the squad must do to return to winning.

“We just need to return to playing our best. We need to get good shots and play as a group. If we do that, we’ll be fine and begin winning.”  

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