HARTFORD — Xavier sophomore Aden Hotchkiss is looking to make the final season for the Falcons seniors, including his brother Joel, a special one. Hotchkiss continues to keep his end of the deal.
Scoring twice, including both the tying and clinching goals, Hotchkiss helped the Falcons to a 3-1 victory over Hamden in a Division I quarterfinal contest at Trinity College’s Koeppel Center in Hartford Sunday afternoon.
Third-seeded Xavier (15-7) will play No.2 Greenwich, a 3-0 winner over No. 7 Northwest Catholic, in Wednesday evening’s semifinal at Ingalls Rink at a time to be determined. Xavier is making its first trip to the semifinals since 2015, when it lost to eventual champion Darien.
“All of us have come together as a team,” Hotchkiss said. “My brother is a senior and we are working hard for the seniors. This is a great feeling. We have practiced hard. We made some line changes and we stuck with them. It’s a great feeling.”
With the game even at one entering the final period, Anthony DiPreta raced towards the Hamden goal and knocked in a rebound past Hamden goaltender Steven Turner with 11:19 remaining in regulation. The goal, which was assisted by Jack Healy and Luke Lappe, put the Falcons ahead for good.
“We have been preaching to the kids to get the puck on net,” Xavier coach Dan Deconti said. “We talk about all the different types of shots. There are shots to score and types to get rebounds. We have been focusing on rebounds.”
The sixth-seeded Green Dragons (14-8) did not go away quietly in the final 15 minutes, taking 15 shots, all turned aside by Xavier goaltender Tyler Beaulieu. Hamden’s best opportunity to even the game came with 9:30 remaining, but Beaulieu robbed Zach Owens,
Beaulieu then came up big again when he stopped Alan Cozzolino in the slot over a minute later, then denied Tyler Routh with 4:29 to go. When Beaulieu turned aside Mason Boyhen from the slot with a pad save with 2:14 to go, Xavier was inching closer to a visit to Ingalls Rink.
“I could not have done it without my defense,” Beaulieu said after finishing with 38 saves. “They were phenomenal. They bailed me out a couple of times. A couple of my saves have to go to them.”
Hotchkiss ended any thoughts of a Hamden comeback when he buried Xavier’s final shot into an empty net with 21.5 seconds to go off an assist from Alexander Stasiuk, his second of the night, for a 3-1 lead.
“Going there (Ingalls Rink) is a great experience for the kids,” Deconti said. “We probably only have two kids from the last time we were there. So this is the first time for most of them. They earned it. They worked hard all season. They put in the hours.”
While Hamden had three more shots in the middle period, the action was end to end from both teams, and the Falcons had the lone tally to even the game at one.
After Beaulieu stoned Hamden’s Owens on a two-on-one, and Xavier’s Chase Maxwell used his stick to turn aside Eddy Fracasso’s attempt into an empty net to keep Xavier down by a goal, the Falcons went the other way to even the game at one.
Turner, who finished the game with 25 saves, denied the initial Xavier shot by Stasiuk, but Hotchkiss was there to fire home the rebound with 6:43 left in the second.
“We kind of let the momentum get away from us,” Hamden coach Todd Hall said. “They took it to us in the second period. They came out hard. We knew they would come out hard, but I don’t think we expected that. That’s what it is all about. That’s what playoff hockey is all about. They wanted to win and we wanted to win. They scored more than we did. It was not for a lack of effort. I thought both goalies were outstanding.”
Beaulieu was not done in the second, denying opportunities by Boyhen and Owens, before Boyhen hit the crossbar with less than four minutes to go in the period.
The Green Dragons struck first in the contest, showing no ill effects from Friday evening’s marathon triple overtime contest. After some early pressure by the Green Dragons, Boyhen stole the puck in front of the Xavier net and sent a shot to the far side for a 1-0 Hamden lead with 3:39 left in the opening period.
Boyhen’s goal was the only tally in the opening 15 minutes, despite quality chances from both teams. Hamden’s Owens, the star in the opening round win over New Canaan, was denied by Beaulieu on a rebound attempt with 7:08 left in the first, before Beaulieu denied A.J. Luedee and the rebound by Fracasso with 4:25 left in the period.
The Falcons had their opportunities early as well, but Hamden’s Turner was up to the challenge, denying Stasiuk in front a short time after Hamden scored, and DiPreta with a blocker save in the final 25 seconds of the period.