There’s a lot good in North Haven, two points away from returning to the CIAC Division II boys hockey tournament after a year’s absence, some solid results on the way to a 6-4-2 record through 12 games. That’s two more wins than it had last year.
Still, second-year North Haven coach Chris Avena sees even more in his team.
“We still have a lot of work to do, 12 games in. We’ve got to find some fire, some emotion,” Avena said after Monday’s 4-1 loss to Fairfield at the Wonderland of Ice in Bridgeport ended a five-game unbeaten streak.
“I don’t know how to infuse that. That seems to be the big conundrum at this point, how we can get some fire underneath us. A lot of times, by the time we get that fire, it’s a little too late in games.”
He thinks the Indians are close, though, to being the team they want to be. They had a one-goal loss to Westhill/Stamford early in the year.
Their 3-0-2 streak of late included a win over East Haven, an overtime win against Trumbull and a tie with defending Division II champion and then-No. 10 Branford.
“(Some of those games) showed we can play with anybody when we show up and we’re ready to go,” Avena said. “Whatever mentality we had before those games, we’ve got to try to find that and bring out every single game.”
They’ve rolled as deep as four lines and four defense pairs, which helped wear down some teams. Some newcomers are getting acclimated to a higher level of play.
One newcomer he didn’t have to worry about was in net: Andrew Sacco, who won the Division III title with Lyman Hall/Haddam-Killingworth/Coginchaug last year, moved to North Haven.
“He brings a state title with him,” Avena said. “It’s nice to have that in our locker room to feed off of, to use his experience to hopefully get us prepared for, hopefully we’ll make, the tournament. We’re a win away. We were hoping for tonight, but obviously that didn’t work out.”
Sacco and two other goalies have helped keep the goals-against down; North Haven has allowed more than three goals just three times. On the other hand, North Haven has scored more than three just once.
The top line of Will Fiore, Aaron Racino and Jake Hines has done well for the Indians; Fiore scored their only goal Monday night.
“A little letdown tonight,” Avena said. “Hopefully we’ll pick it back up for Cheshire on Saturday.”
Saturday’s storm moved most of that day’s schedule around, but a couple of games earlier in the week moved as well: East Haven-Woodstock Academy is now Feb. 11, and the Eastern Ct Eagles’ game against Tri-Town was also postponed. East Haven and Tri-Town were both ravaged by the flu.
The other course came from flu-stricken Trinity Catholic, which played Monday at the Northeastern Shamrocks with just six skaters, down from their usual 10. The Crusaders came back to win 4-2.
The weather postponed East Haven’s Saturday game against Guilford, so its fundraiser in memory of young Trenton O’Brien is now this coming Saturday for the Yellowjackets’ game against Milford.
JBWA junior Daniel McKiernan reached 100 points on Jan. 15 in just his 27th game, a 6-5 loss to Newtown. He’s up to 103 in 28 after Monday’s win over Masuk.
Longtime Fermi and Enfield coach Frank Genovese earned his 200th win, a 4-1 Enfield victory over South Hadley, Mass., on Jan. 15. The Eagles won two more this past week to improve to 7-3-1 after going 3-16-1 last year.
…AND MR. 500
Tip of cap to Rich Bulan on his 500th overall coaching win on Monday, a 6-5 victory for the New Canaan girls over West Haven/Sacred Heart Academy. The first 135, as Dave Stewart reports, came as Westhill’s boys coach, including two Division II championship-game appearances, the second in the all-Stamford affair of 2001.
Darien honored “superfan” and former captain Hank Morgan, Class of 1956, who went on to play at Harvard, before Monday’s game against Fairfield Prep.
Please help us honor DHS Super Fan Hank Morgan TOMORROW as we host @FPvarsityhockey at the Darien Ice House! The puck drops at 4pm promptly!!! #RollWave #bwp #cthk #CTHSHockey pic.twitter.com/o9YhWw6yhd
— DHS Boys Ice Hockey (@bluewavepuck) January 19, 2020