HAMDEN >> When Todd Hall took over as the Hamden boys hockey coach last season, one of the first things he did was institute a strong conditioning program.
The goal was to have his players have the same strong, fresh legs when the final second ticked off in the third period as they did when the puck was first dropped in the game.
The conditioning was a big reason the Green Dragons finished strong and eventually wore down an East Haven team short on players on Wednesday.
Raif Harris had a hat trick, Tyler Webb added two goals and two assists and Stephen Richetelli had 15 saves, including a save on a penalty shot, to lead No. 6 Hamden to a 6-2 SCC-SWC interdivision win over No. 8 East Haven at Astorino Rink.
“East Haven is a very good team with players who can put the puck in the net,” Hall said. “But when you have a team that is short-handed and playing only two lines against you, you have to make them skate and try to wear them down.
“All our players played well. Raif Harris has been playing well all season. But something clicked three games ago and he’s been fired up. Richetelli came up with some big saves and the save on the penalty shot was huge for us.”
Hamden improves to 8-5 and East Haven falls to 12-2.
East Haven coach Lou Pane said his team had four players out with injuries or illness, rotating three defensemen and had the services of only six forwards.
“We were short on numbers and had to play a tough Hamden team that had three or four lines,” Pane said. “I give our guys credit for battling hard. We kept it close. But after we tied it 2-2 in the third period, they wore us down. Hamden had a lot left in the engine.”
The Easties took a 1-0 lead in the first period off a 2-on-1 breakaway down the left wing. Nick Capone wristed a shot near the right circle for the one-goal lead at 9:11.
With 1:07 left in the first period, East Haven’s Joe Lorello was awarded a penalty shot. He deked right and shot left with Richetelli making the save.
Denying the penalty shot fired up Hamden moving forward. Hamden dominated the second period and outshot the
Easties 11-4. Hamden’s Alex Hernandez tied the game at 1 at 10:24 and Harris scored a power-play goal at 13:36 to give the Green Dragons a 2-1 lead.
Capone tied the game at 2 for the Easties at 2:21 of the third period. But the Green Dragons would score four unanswered goals to close out the game.
Webb scored off a breakaway down the left wing to give Hamden a 3-2 lead at 4:53. Harris made it 4-2 at 8:03 and completed his hat trick with a power-play goal at 11:40 for a 5-2 lead.
“This was one of my better games,” Harris said. “I’ve been trying to get more fired up when I’m on the ice and that has helped me play better. Steve had a heck of a game in goal for us and when he made the save on the penalty shot, that was big and got us going.”
Webb closed out the scoring to make it 6-2 with 10 seconds left in the game.
East Haven goalie Matt Twarowski had 19 saves.