— Michael Fornabaio (@fornabaioctp) February 16, 2020
MIDDLETOWN — Three times, Lyman Hall/HK/Coginchaug showed the guts to come back against Sheehan, erase a deficit in a wild atmosphere at Wesleyan’s Spurrier-Snyder Rink, make a new game of it.
And all three times the Trojans did, Sheehan sophomore Anthony DeFilio had an answer. Each time, actually, the response time got shorter Saturday night.
DeFilio completed a hat trick with 3:22 left in the game, 35 seconds after LHK tied it, and Sheehan beat their crosstown rivals 6-5 in a wild back-and-forth boys hockey game.
“It shows we have good character, we’re a good team,” DeFilio said. “It shows how we really are.”
DeFilio’s first goal, a deflection, gave the Titans (13-2-1) a 2-1 lead three minutes after LHK tied it. His second made it 4-3 just 65 seconds after the Trojans (8-7-1) came back from two goals down early in the second.
And after LHK scored goals 38 seconds apart to tie it late in regulation, DeFilio’s third won it 35 seconds later, with DeFilio taking a shift with the Romano twins, Joe and Anthony.
“Joe just got it, he threw it down to Ant, and I sorta crashed the net,” DeFilio said. “He put it on my backhand. I just threw a shot on the net. You put a shot on the net, it might go in.
“And it did.”
LHK pulled its goalie for an extra attacker after a Sheehan penalty with 2:29 left, but the Titans blocked shots, a couple of LHK chances missed connection, and the Titans held on.
“They brought it to us the first and second periods. The third period, we really responded,” LHK coach Dave Sagnella said. “We just couldn’t get over that last hump. We pulled the goalie with two and a half left. I thought the puck was down in their (end). We just couldn’t find the back. But overall, it was a good game.”
Raucous student sections were on either end of the stands. Sheehan’s pep band was in the house. And after the teams took five minutes to get the engines revved, the last 40 minutes were all kinds of fun to watch.
They had tied at 5 on Dec. 28. This is the last time they can meet this year: LHK moved up to Division II this season after winning last year’s Division III title, beating Sheehan 6-2 in the final.
The Titans carried a 5-3 lead to the third Saturday night, and it held through two Sheehan power plays and one for the Trojans.
With 4:35 left, Connor Chordas scored from the top of the left circle to cut the lead to one. Aidan Weir put home a rebound with 3:57 left.
“Lyman Hall is a very strong team, and they’re going to come back, and they’re going to fight hard,” Sheehan coach Dave Festa said.
“It was going to be that battle of the bounce, trying to get that game-winner, and not going into overtime, winning in regulation was a big boost as well.”
Weir and T.J. Arduini had three points apiece for LHK. Joe Romano scored two goals — the first with one second left in the first period — and Luke Festa had two assists for Sheehan.
“It was a great day for Wallingford, a great game for both teams, a clean, close game,” Dave Festa said. “The game being tied twice, that’s good hockey.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Anthony DeFilio’s three goals each gave his team a lead.
“As a sophomore, he’s been getting more and more time. He’s working hard,” Festa said. “He’s getting in the right places, going to the dirty areas, and it’s paying off. He’s got some good stick skills. Put a little strength on him, and he’s going to be a deadly weapon going forward. That’s one of the key things, he’s getting more comfortable in these big situations.”
LHK’s first comeback began with an unusual empty-net goal. Amid a two-on-two battle for the puck behind the Trojans net, a referee put his arm up to signal a penalty. Sheehan thought it had possession, so goalie Justin Lyon came to the bench for an extra attacker. But the whistle never blew, the Trojans took possession, and T.J. Arduini broke up the left wing and scored.
After a brief discussion, the goal stood. Festa said the officials apologized.
“We blatantly saw a cross-check on our guy in the numbers. We had possession of the puck, his arm went up, and he didn’t blow the whistle,” Festa said. “The expectation was, great, we have a delayed penalty.”
We asked both coaches: Is that fun, or does it take years off your life?
“That takes years off my life,” Festa said.
For LHK coach Dave Sagnella, “it’s more fun when you’re on the other end, but like I told the guys in the locker room, we’ll use it as a learning tool. … That team could easily be a top D-II team.”
“That’s a playoff atmosphere, every time we play them. Every time you think you’ve seen everything, it just gets crazier. It was definitely another wild one, but they deserved to win today.” —LHK coach Dave Sagnella