Trumbull coach Greg Maxey knows his team wasn’t on a lot of people’s boys hockey radar at the start of the year. And he knows his team has caught some attention with a 5-2 start.
“What we’ve been talking about is getting better as we go,” Maxey said. “I think we have. … “The kids are starting to play with some confidence.”
The Eagles opened with a win over Watertown/Pomperaug and beat St. Joseph and Guilford in the past week, with a 3-0 loss to Branford (No. 9 in this week’s GameTimeCT top 10 poll) in between. They’re next on the ice at home in Shelton on Saturday against North Haven.
After Christmas, they went 2-1 in New Hampshire at the Heuchling & Swift Memorial Classic, beating Portsmouth, N.H., and Biddeford, Maine, falling to Martha’s Vineyard (Mass.) 2-1 in the final.
“The games we lost, I thought we were in them, did some good things,” Maxey said. “We lost the finals up in New Hampshire, but the team played pretty well. We lost to Branford 3-0. They’re good, I’m not taking anything away, but we had opportunities. The last few games, we’re starting to click.”
Senior goalie Alex Tsymbalyuk has given them a chance to win every game, Maxey said, and they’re rolling three lines.
“We don’t really have one line we lean on,” Maxey said. “I don’t think any of them are great, but they’re all pretty good. Most games, we tend to come on strong late, playing those three lines.”
The FCIAC’s top teams are fairly spread out on the back half of the Eagles’ schedule.
Hand fell behind at Adelard Arena on Dec. 22, and that might not be a shock: Mount Saint Charles is one of those storied New England programs, one of the top teams in Rhode Island. “I think the boys felt that Mount Saint Charles aura,” Tigers coach Brian Gonsalves said.
The shock might be the final score, a 4-3 Hand win in overtime, part of Hand’s 5-0 start after a stellar 18-5-1 year last season.
“We were very fortunate to get out with a win against a great team and a historic program,” Gonsalves said.
Goals by Tatum Fitzmaurice and Jeff Pinover (the first for the sophomore) kept the Tigers in it. Defenseman Jack Gagliardi found a rebound in a scrum in front of the net to tie it, and Teddy Licari won it.
No. 2 Fairfield Prep and No. 7 Hamden will also go to Adelard this year, and Gonsalves admits it’ll be fun to scoreboard-watch and see how they do.
Gonsalves said the Tigers’ lineup has been balanced, a lot like last year, and the defense has been solid. Goalie Eric Dillner continues to impress with both his work ethic and his results in net.
And their success has come without playing a full game at full strength yet. They’re hoping to have everyone available by next week.
“Everybody’s ready to contribute, from top to bottom,” Gonsalves said.
The Lancer Beanpot is this weekend at The Rinks at Shelton, hosted by Notre Dame-Fairfield. The Lancers face Prout (R.I.) on Friday at 7 p.m., with St. Dominic (Maine) and Archbishop Williams (Mass.) to follow. The consolation game is Saturday at 2:30 p.m., with the championship game at 4:30.