On Jan. 14, when the East Haven boys hockey team defeated Guilford 9-2, East Haven coach Lou Pane earned career win No. 410.
The milestone moved him past former West Haven coach Art Crouse and it was believed that Pane had moved into sole possession of second place all-time in career wins for Connecticut high school hockey.
However, at the time, it was unclear if another hockey legend, former Hamden coach Lou Astorino, actually held second place. Hamden coach Todd Hall decided to do some research to find out what Astorino’s career record actually was so the record could be set straight.
On Saturday, Hall, after researching records and talking to Astorino family members, confirmed Pane was indeed second all-time among Connecticut high school hockey coaches.
Former Fairfield Prep and Notre Dame-Fairfield coach Marty Roos has the most career wins with a 536-301-19 record. After a 7-4 win over West Haven on Monday, Pane is second at 411-237-20, Crouse follows at 409-208-17 and Astorino is fourth with a 403-151-10 record.
“Coming into this season, my 31st as East Haven coach, I had high expectations,” Pane said. “This is such an honor for me to be mentioned in the same manner as coaches Marty Roos, Art Crouse and Lou Astorino. I was fortunate to coach against all of them, I admired all those guys, guys who are all legends in Connecticut high school hockey.
“I have been fortunate to have a great bunch of kids from my first team to this season’s team. All these kids have been committed to what we want to do here. The kids are the reason I coach at East Haven. I played hockey at Quinnipiac and I wanted to do what I could to get as many kids the opportunity to experience the sport on the college level. In my 31 seasons we’ve had 45-50 kids play in college and 45-50 players play junior hockey.”
Pane said his 411 wins is a reflection of all the hard work and effort all his players have given the program over the years. He also said he has been blessed with exceptional assistant coaches including current coaches Butch DiLungo (29 seasons) and Ben Fronte (20 seasons).
“When I first became the East Haven coach, I never thought I’d be here 31 seasons or get 400 wins,” Pane said. “I thought maybe I’d coach five or six seasons. But I lasted this long because this has been such a rewarding experience for me, I’ve been blessed with great players and assistant coaches, and I have met so many great people season after season.”
Hand boys turning season around
It was a tough start for the Hand boys, going 1-5 through its first six games.
Hand’s last six games have been a different story, going 4-1-1 to improve to 5-6-1.
Hand coach Ken Mitchell said one main reason for the turnaround is each player is more focused on their role.
“I think our players are starting to understand what it takes to be good defensively and how necessary it is,” Mitchell said. “Being surprised by our recent turnaround is putting it mildly, although with our schedule, every night is a test so your record could take a hit if you don’t show up. Cleaning up our play in the defensive zone and outworking your man has been the biggest strength for us.”
Offensively, forward Matt Rice has been a consistent scorer with 17 goals and seven assists. A pair of players contributing on both ends of the ice are captain Tristan Sorenson (three goals, one assist) and Chase Freiman (five goals, four assists). Griffin Fitzmaurice has been one of the top playmakers with four goals and 12 assists.
“Another positive for the team has been moving Ryan Hilton (three goals, three assists) back to defense,” Mitchell said. “ Our goalie Rob Smith has been great all year for us. Some of our earlier losses could have been worse had he not been so reliable. I think the turnaround should give us the boost we need to be successful this year. The players understand that it pays to work hard. You can see it in practice. The energy is there, holding themselves accountable. It’s what we preach and they have started to listen.”