Holding a 2-0 lead with three minutes to play in the third period, the Trinity Catholic boys hockey team seemed poised to end the regular season on a high note Wednesday heading into the FCIAC and Division II state playoffs.
Host Staples/Weston/Shelton then turned up the pressure, firing shot after shot at Crusaders netminder Kyle Odierno, only for arguably the best goalie in the state to once again prove why he is worthy of such recognition.
Carmine DeRuebis and Griffin Northrop each scored goals and Odierno made 27 saves as Trinity Catholic edged Staples/Weston/Shelton 2-1 at the Milford Ice Pavilion in the regular season finale for both teams. The Crusaders completed their season at 14-5-1 and will be the No. 4 seed in the FCIAC playoffs, set to begin Friday.
Staples (8-11-1) also qualified for the tournament after Greenwich defeated Wilton 6-0 late Wednesday. The No. 8 Wreckers will meet Darien in the quarterfinals on Saturday at 4:20 p.m. at Terry Conners Rink in Stamford.
"We were up and down; we've been up and down a lot of games as of late," Crusaders assistant Pete Stokes said. "Staples gave us all we can handle, and towards the end of the game in the last minute they deserved to win the game."
The Crusaders, who beat Trumbull 6-1 on Tuesday, were back on the ice less than 24 hours later. An uneven, scoreless, first period had neither team generate quality chances at the net.
"It's tough on back-to-back nights; these kids aren't world-class athletes," Stokes said. "They are high school kids that have to get up and go to school. That may have had something to do with (the slow start). We had a slow first period, a decent second period and a good third period."
DeReubis broke the deadlock with 4:33 left in the second period, crashing the net on his own rebound to poke the puck past Staples goalie Will Englehart (22 saves). DeReubis laid out a Wreckers defender on his way to the net.
"He's done that all year long," Stokes said. "He's not afraid to go in front of the net. He wears an A (for alternate captain); Will Egan is our captain or (DeReubis) would be the captain. He has really picked it up."
Northrop provided the Crusaders with an insurance goal -- which proved to be the game winner -- with 5:31 left as he fired a shot off the crossbar and into the back of the net.
Trailing 2-0 with 2:50 remaining, the Wreckers pulled Englehart in favor of the extra attacker. The extra man paid immediate dividends as Derek Nussbaum found Ryan Johnson down low on a 2-on-1 chance. Johnson beat Odierno to give Staples hope.
"We just played against one of the best teams in the state, and it came down to one goal," Staples coach Todd Sharinn said. "We had a lot of opportunities against the best goalie in the state. How could I be anything but proud of them."
Staples took an ill-timed penalty with 1:43 left, appearing to ice the game for Trinity. Instead, the man advantage gave the visitors a false sense of security and the Wreckers had two excellent chances -- each on breakaways -- to tie the game, but Odierno stood tall to preserve the victory.
"He's the best," Stokes said of Odierno. "If he wasn't in between the pipes tonight, Staples had the win." Read Full Article
Trinity alternated wins and losses in its last four games before prevailing Wednesday. Staples went 0-for-3 on the power play while the Crusaders went 0-for-1.