WEST HAVEN >> Hamden goalie Steven Turner (29 saves) and West Haven goalie Brendan Serenson (32 saves) put on an impressive show between the pipes for their fans at Bennett Rink on Thursday.
Then again, an impressive show in this storied matchup is what fans have come to expect in what is considered to be the longest high school hockey rivalry in Connecticut.
In the end, No. 5 Hamden’s speed and depth triumphed with right wing Jake Blackwell scoring twice, including the game-winning goal, in a 3-1 SCC-SWC Division I win over West Haven.
It is believed the rivalry dates back to the 1930s since Hamden’s hockey program debuted in 1936. Hamden and West Haven met in the first CIAC-sanctioned Division I tournament championship game in 1948 with Hamden winning that game 3-2.
“Whenever these teams meet you always expect a close, hard-fought game,” Hamden coach Todd Hall said. “That’s the way it has always been. I mean this in a good way, but they are like a wounded animal. They just keep coming at you, they compete so hard and they’re so competitive every time you play them.
“Both goalies played a great game. Our goalie had to come big for us on some tough shots in the last three minutes. It’s nice to get a win in this rivalry.”
Hamden improved to 3-1. West Haven fell to 2-1.
“Like all West Haven and Hamden games, this was a fun game with a great atmosphere,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said. “It was a fun game to coach and Todd does a great job with his team. It would have been a lot more fun to win. But my kids gave everything they had to give.
“It was one of those emotional games with both goalies making some big saves.”
In the first period, both goalies came up with double-digit saves, but the Green Dragons were able to take a 1-0 lead on a Zach Owens goal at 11:00.
Both goalies continued to impact the game in the scoreless second period with Turner and Serenson coming up with 10 saves each. But in the third period, Blackwell deflected Jonathan Hiebert’s shot from the left point to give Hamden a 2-0 lead at 6:10.
Defenseman Jerry Maus gave the Blue Devil fans some hope with a rising slap shot just inside the blue line to cut the lead to 2-1 with 2:49 left in the game. But the late rally fell short with Blackwell adding an insurance goal with 13 seconds left in regulation.
“This game has always been a big rivalry for the players, we’re always pumped up for this,” Blackwell said. “Every time we play West Haven we expect it to be a great game. The first goal we scored was key for us because it gave us some momentum, especially with how well both goalies were playing.
“It felt great to contribute in the game but everyone on our team contributed and played hard.”
Hamden 3, West Haven 1
(at West Haven)
Hamden 1 0 2 — 3
West Haven 0 0 1 — 1
First period—HA: Zach Owens (Zach Riccitelli, James Smyth) 11:00; Third period—HA: Jake Blackwell (Raif Harris, John Hiebert) 6:10; WH: Jerry Maus (Kevin Moriarty, Peter Richetelli) 12:11; HA: Jake Blackwell (Raif Harris) 14:47; ?Shots—HA: 35; WH: 30;
Saves—HA: Steven Turner 29; WH: Brendan Serenson 32;
Records—West Haven 2-1; Hamden 3-1