HAMDEN >> It’s usually an exciting affair whenever SCC-SWC Division I boys hockey teams face off.
In the matchup between rivals No. 6 Hamden and No. 7 Notre Dame-West Haven on Saturday, the Green Knights showcased their exceptional speed. It led to dominance in the transition game and breakaways that led to goals and an Notre Dame win.
Matt Ciaburro and Greg Caturano had a pair of goals and Liam Connell had 17 saves to lead Notre Dame-West Haven to a 5-2 victory at Astorino Rink.
It was an even game and tied at 2 after the first 20 minutes, but Caturano’s first goal was a momentum changer. Caturano scored off an end-to-end breakaway down the right wing to give the Green Knights a 3-2 lead at 6:24 of the second period.
“We used our speed to our advantage today,” Notre Dame-West Haven coach Tim Belcher said. “Our transition game was good and we drove to the net. We wanted to get the puck in their zone as much as possible.
“This game has always been a great rivalry. It’s great any time you can come away with a win over Hamden. But I’m from Hamden and I played for Notre Dame. To come out on top and get a win against Hamden is always a little special for me.”
The Green Knights dominated the first period but only had a one-goal lead at the first intermission. Ciaburro scored at 11:58 off a breakaway down the left wing and Hunter Krasnow added a goal at 12:21 for a 2-0 lead. The Green Dragons answered late in the period when Zach Riccitelli scored a power-play goal with 1:03 left in the period to cut the lead to 2-1.
Riccitelli came through again for the Green Dragons with a goal at 3:27 to tie the game at 2. Notre Dame quickly answered on a play initiated by Ian Hayden. He grabbed a loose puck near the bottom of the right wing circle and passed to Caturano who bolted down the right wing for the go-ahead goal.
“Our speed killed them today,” Caturano said.”Whenever we were 5-on-5 we were all over them. When we went ahead 3-2 we all got the sense that the momentum was with us.”
Ciaburro added an insurance goal at 11:19 of the third period and Caturano added an empty-net goal with 17 seconds left in the game.
“We’re not going to be the fastest team in every game we play,” Hamden coach Todd Hall said. ”The majority of ND’s kids are faster than us and I told our players not to put us in a foot race with them. Their speed hurt us today.
“You can make team adjustments. But there are always individual adjustments that have to be made during a game and we didn’t do that today. When they went ahead 3-2 off that breakaway, it took a little wind out of our sails. If that third goal goes our way, it’s probably a different story.”
Notre Dame-West Haven 5, Hamden 2
Notre Dame-West Haven 2 1 2 -5
Hamden 1 1 0 -2
First period- NDWH: Matt Ciaburro (Zach Dumas, Vinny Paolillo) 11:58; Hunter Krasnow (Zach Dumas, Matt Ciaburro) 12:19; HA: Zach Riccitelli (John Hiebert, Tyler Webb) 13:57; Second period- HA: Zach Riccitelli (James Smyth) 3:27; NDWH: Greg Caturano (Ian Hayden) 6:24; Third period- NDWH: Matt Ciaburro (Vinny Paolillo, Hunter Krasnow) 11:19; Greg Caturano 14:43; Shots- NDWH: 31; HA: 19; Saves- HA: Steven Turner 26; NDWH: Liam Connell 17.
Records- Hamden 5-3; Notre Dame-West Haven 6-5