Northwest Catholic boys hockey coach Dan Melanson says he’s good at counting his blessings, and the first month of this season has given him chances to do so.
The Lions played without eight regulars, ill or injured, on Saturday in Darien against New Canaan, a 5-1 Rams win. He got a few back Monday against Glastonbury.
And then junior defenseman Griffin Macary took a dangerous hit early in that game. Melanson said Tuesday that Macary suffered a severe concussion that will have him out a while.
Small blessings: “It could definitely have been worse,” Melanson said.
The Lions beat Glastonbury 7-1 on Monday to get back above .500 at 4-3. Division I semifinalists last year, 10th in the GameTimeCT preseason poll, they got zonked by illness and injury in recent weeks, a stretch that included a 4-1 loss to the Tomahawks last week.
“We’re looking forward to having a healthy team,” Melanson said Saturday. “I’ve got one with mono; we’ve got to wait that out, that’s the end of January. A groin, that’s another two weeks. I’ve got three pneumonias. The list goes on. We go in the locker room spraying Lysol.”
Freshman John Gunsalus, dressing for the first time on Saturday, scored the Lions’ goal. Melanson said some players were out of their usual position.
“One (ill player on Friday) tried to practice, he’s hacking a lung — it’s not worth it,” Melanson said.
“We’ll figure it out. It’s good for these younger kids to step up and see what they can do, too.”
Senior Nathan Loitz was among those returning Monday for the Lions, who are a bit of a family affair. Dan Melanson is head coach, and his brother, Don, is an assistant coach, the program’s former head coach.
Freshman forward Noah Melanson is Dan’s son, and junior Connor Melanson is his nephew, son of Paul, the Simsbury girls coach.
The old maxim says you’ve got to play three periods to get a win. Simsbury played four on Saturday at South Windsor Arena and won twice.
A scoreless third period completed a game that was suspended on Dec. 21 at Simsbury Farms’ rink after a Zamboni accidentally gashed the boards. That game ended up a 3-2 Simsbury win over South Windsor.
The Trojans won the regularly scheduled meeting as well: Scott Simeon scored the last two goals to salt away a 6-2 Simsbury win over the Bobcats.
Wednesday night’s game at SoNo Ice House between Staples and McMahon/Norwalk inaugurates the Dale Wehmhoff Cup. Wehmhoff, who died in 2018, was a Staples alumnus and coached both teams.
As usual, the high school hockey community is finding ways to give back. Here’s a sampling, as seen on Twitter and around the rinks.
On Wednesday, when JBWA and Newtown meet at Danbury Ice Arena at 5:30, proceeds will go to the Wounded Warrior Project.
East Haven will sell ribbons and bracelets at its game Saturday at DiLungo Rink against Guilford. Proceeds will go to the family of Trenton O’Brien, a 7-year-old boy from town who died of brain cancer on Friday, and to cancer research.
St. Joseph had its Hockey Fights Cancer game on Monday against Trumbull.
Staples will collect money for relief from the fires in Australia at its Saturday-night game against Ridgefield at Milford Ice.
A little further down the road, WMRP will collect school supplies at its Feb. 5 game against Hall/Southington at Newington Ice Arena. The collection honors Lilian Klinger, a Newington teacher and Wethersfield resident, who died in May, and benefits youth services programs in both towns.
mfornabaio @ctpost.com; @fornabaioctp