NEW HAVEN – The Conard boys hockey team took the first six shots of the game in its CIAC Division II semifinal game with Farmington Valley on Saturday.
But it was all Farmington Valley the rest of the way.
Tim Arena had a hat trick and Trevor Paluso had 12 saves to lead No. 1 Farmington Valley to a 4-1 win over No. 4 Conard at Ingalls Rink.
The Generals outshot the Chieftains 48-13 and Conard goalie Shea Henderson did his best to keep the score close for the Chieftains with 44 saves.
“They’re goalie played great to keep them in the game, and it took us six minutes to get our first shot on goal,” Farmington Valley coach Mike Barone said. “Once we got that first shot we just took off. The short-handed goal that gave us a 2-0 lead really got us going.
“I have to give credit to my defense too, our back-checking is unbelievable. It’s so exciting for all of us to get to the final.”
In the first period, Conard dominated early and actually outshot Farmington Valley 6-0 at one point. But the top two lines of the Generals closed strong to take a 2-0 lead at the first intermission.
Kyle Kadziolka took a hard slap shot from the right circle. Henderson made the stick save but the puck rebounded right to Owen Lacourciere. He wristed a shot into the right corner for a 1-0 Farmington Valley lead at 7:43.
Arena padded the lead off a short-handed goal with 58 seconds left in the period. With Farmington Valley’s Lacourciere serving an interference penalty, Arena grabbed the puck at the blue and bolted all alone toward Henderson. Arena deked left and then wristed a shot intpo the lower right corner for a 2-0 lead.
In the second period, Arena scored again offa right wing breakaway. He took a shot and the puck glanced off Henderson for a 3-0 lead at 2:04.
Special teams paid off for the Chieftains for their first goal. Farmington Valley’s Lucas Powers was called for a tripping penalty at 9:46. Six seconds later, Bryant Caron scored off a rising slap shot from the left point to cut the Generals’ lead to 3-1.
The Generals dominated the period outshooting the Chieftains 20-4. Henderson kept the Chieftains in the game with 19 saves.
Arena completed his hat trick in the third period. There was a scramble for the puck at the right post. Arena got a rebound and jammed the puck into the net for the 4-1 final at 6:35.
“The short-handed goal was a big goal because it was demoralizing for them,” Arena said. “It was a turning point for us. Getting to the final is awesome.”