With the 2019 CIAC hockey tournament set to begin, here’s a look at five impact players to keep an eye on.
Sean Gordon, Ridgefield
There was no question about what the Tigers had in the Best Line in the State, about the depth of their defense corps, about how much experience they brought back. And Gordon has left little doubt about what they have in goal, too: For all that this team has produced offensively, it’s not undefeated if Gordon doesn’t play some of his best games in big, close wins like those against Darien and Fairfield Prep. Odds are they’ll need at least one more.
Calyb Reeves, Fairfield Prep
The Jesuits have some dynamic players, and they’ve developed a few along the way this year as well, but Reeves was one from the start that was seen as a game-breaker. Speedy and among the Jesuits’ leaders in hits, he’s also got 23 points on the left side of Prep’s top line. He nearly scored a couple of times in the SCC/SWC Division I final Friday night, including a potential last-minute tying goal disallowed because the net was ruled off its moorings.
Ryan Fleming, Watertown/Pomperaug
Another goalie anchoring a talented team, except while this one has plenty of its own talent (Troy Harwell has almost outscored his team’s opponents), it’s not as deep as Ridgefield’s lineup. No surprise; it’s Division II. But Fleming is an equalizer with a .939 save percentage, a key reason his team is the top seed in the Division II tournament. The Indians will need to bounce back from getting shut down in the SCC/SWC Division II title game; Branford scored two power-play goals on 22 shots.
John DeLucia, Guilford
Or is the best defense a good offense? Guilford has tried to tighten up its own end from the start of the season, when scores included 8-7, 9-8 and 10-6. The offense, though, is usually there; Guilford has scored at least three goals in all but one of its 21 games. And this senior is a huge reason why, and has been for a couple of years, the school’s all-time leading scorer with well over 200 points. He’s the key cog in a dynamic offense that, for instance, in two games dealt Fleming six of his 30 regular-season goals against.
Tyler Robertson, Sheehan
There’s a goalie theme here, sure, but it’s that time of year. The Titans are another group that can move the puck around pretty well, have a power play that’s a joy to watch, have some depth, but they’ve also got a goaltender who held a couple of good offenses, Hand and JBWA, to one goal each in two SCC/SWC Division III playoff games, for which he was named the tournament’s outstanding player.
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