NEW HAVEN >> The E.O. Smith/Tolland boys hockey team dominated play during the regular season, using its speed, depth and size to enter the postseason with an 18-2 record. On Saturday, it used that combination to dominate the first period against a talented Masuk team in the CIAC Division III final.
Peter Mayer scored four goals and Matt Schoen made 32 saves to lead No. 1 E.O. Smith to a 5-2 win over No. 2 Masuk at Ingalls Rink for the Bucks’ first state championship.
“I still don’t believe I scored four goals,” Mayer said. “I am just so thankful to have the linemates that I have, they set me up for those goals. It might look one-sided but Masuk is one of the best teams we played this season.
“This is a dream becoming reality. This is a great feeling. This is our first championship but it is going to be the first of many.”
E.O. Smith/Toland coach John Hodgson said the experience of being in the final last season was a huge factor in getting the title this time around.
“Masuk is a team that scores quick so we knew we had to try and get the jump on them early,” E.O.Smith/Tolland coach John Hodgson said. “The key for us this time around is our experience. Being here last year helped prepare us for this game.
“Peter had a great game but he’s been doing it for us all season. He’s scored 34 goals now and a lot of those goals were big-time goals for us.”
The Bucks (23-3) set the tone of the game in the first period with three unanswered goals.
Peter Mayer scored off a three-on-three breakaway down center ice at 2:42 for a 1-0 Bucks lead. Mayer scored his second goal at 7:21 for a 2-0 lead and 29 seconds later his brother Nick Mayer made it 3-0 off a wrist shot in front of the left post.
Shane Dushay had three chances to score for the Panthers, including a wide open shot at the right point. But Schoen made a stick save each time.
With 17 seconds to go in the first period, Shane Dushay (hook) and Charles Cristo (slash) were both called for penalties. The penalties gave E.O. Smith/Tolland a prime chance to score to start the second period with a five-on-three advantage with 1:43 left in the penalties.
Mayer went on to score his third goal, a power-play goal, at 1:40 of the second period. He scored off a rebound in front of the right post to give the Bucks a 4-0 lead. Mayer scored again with 1:02 to go for a 5-0 Bucks lead at the second intermission.
Masuk actually outshot E.O. Smith 15-8 in the second period. The Panthers turned up their intensity the last nine minutes of the second period and had eight wide open shots on goal. But Schoen made the save each time.
The Panthers (21-4-1) got a puck by Schoen in the third period.
Charles Christo scored a power-play goal at 2:30 of the third period to cut the E.O.Smith/Tolland lead to 5-1. Dushay added a power-play goal for Masuk to cut the lead to 5-2 at 11:10.
But Schoen came up with three quality saves the rest of the way to linit the Panthers’ late rally.
“We had our opportunities and chances,” Masuk coach Andy Townsend said. “We just needed to execute better. But my kids shouldn’t hang their heads low. After that first period we played great. I’m proud of my guys and what they accomplished to get to the final.”
E.O. Smith-Tolland 5, Masuk 2
(at New Haven)
Masuk 0 0 2 — 2
E.O. Smith 3 2 0 — 5
First period—EOS: Peter Mayer (Kyle Penney) 2:42; Peter Mayer (Matt McNeal) 7:21; Nick Mayer (Josh Barnes) 7:50; Second period—EOS: Peter Mayer 1:40; Peter Mayer (Josh Barnes) 13:58; Third period—MK: Charlie Christo (Elijah Begin) 2:30; Shane Dushay (Elijah Begin, Bryan Denham) 11:10;
Shots—MK: 23; EOS: 34;
Saves—MK: Christian Furce 29; EOS: Matt Schoen 21;
Records—E.O. Smith 23-3; Masuk 21-4-1
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