GREENWICH — Greenwich’s hockey season has followed an overtime theme thus far, with three of its four games decided in an extra period.
After being edged in overtime twice already, the Cardinals got a game to go its way on Saturday, courtesy of Ivan Kovalev and Wesley Zolin.
Kovalev scored in overtime and Zolin recorded a hat trick for Greenwich in its 5-4 victory over Immaculate before a large crowd at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink.
The victory in their home-opener was the first of the season for the Cardinals (1-3), who lost to New Canaan and Xavier in overtime last month.
“It’s a very good win, especially coming in overtime,” Cardinals coach Chris Rurak said. “It’s always good to get the monkey off the back. It shows, yes, we can win and now we can move forward.”
Saturday’s matchup was physical with the Cardinals and Mustangs combining for 14 penalties. Both squads were pretty effective on the power-play, while displaying aggressive play throughout.
“We were getting a lot of opportunities,” said Kovalev, a sophomore forward. “We need to bury them and have bodies in front of the net and get those rebounds in. It was hard at first getting goals. We weren’t getting bounces, but we kept going and finished those goals.”
Kovalev finished off a 2-on-1 with 5:16 remaining in overtime for the winner. Skating down the right wing, sophomore forward Liam Matthews crossed the puck to Kovalev, who snapped a shot past Mustangs goalie Chris Graham.
“I got a beautiful pass from Matthews and dragged it around the defenseman and shot it,” said Kovalev, whose father Alexei enjoyed a 19-year NHL career. “The shot hit his shoulder, but it was a goal and that’s all that matters.”
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The Cardinals outshot the Mustangs, 45-29, but the visitors forced overtime with a late tally. On a power-play following a GHS delay of game infraction, senior forward Ryan Moody tied the score at 4 with 2:45 left, knocking a rebound by Cardinals sophomore goalie Charlie Zolin. Moody registered two goals and one assist for Immaculate (0-5).
“I thought we played great overall,” Immaculate coach Brian Lugo said. “We’ve got to finish a little bit more inside the net. I would have liked to have seen us increase the amount of shots we had. At the end, it was a bad break for us and they capitalized on a 2-on-1.”
Zolin, a sophomore forward, completed his hat trick at the 7:25 mark of the third period, giving the Cards a 4-3 edge. The tally came with the Cardinals on a power-play, after a Mustangs slashing penalty.
“I had a one-timer, took it to the net and put it through,” Wesley Zolin said. “Taking our time to put in those power-play goals is huge. It gets the team going, so we have to bury our chances and take advantage of our opportunities.”
Immaculate began the third period on a power-play and gained a 5-on-3 advantage when Greenwich was charged with an unnecessary roughness penalty, a five-minute infraction (player was disqualified from the game). Following a face-off in Greenwich’s zone, Immaculate made it 3-3 on Moody’s goal, which was set up by senior Joseph Robinson and junior Timothy Hayden with 11:33 to go.
Robinson scored the game’s first goal 31 seconds into the opening period, converting a shot from the left face-off circle.
A three-goal second period helped pace the Cards. Zolin posted a pair of goals, the second of which put GHS up, 3-2, with 25.6 seconds left in the period and his team on a power-play. Junior Ben Bates scored Greenwich’s first goal off assists by freshman Tayaka Shoji and junior Dylan Kronengold with 10:05 remaining in the second period.
SHOWING THEIR POWER
Rurak was pleased with what he saw from his squad’s power-play and penalty-kill units.
“On the power play, we were getting some production from it, which was really good,” Rurak said. “We simplified it and even more important, our penalty kill was really good.”
ON THEIR OWN
This marks Immaculate’s first season playing as a single team. In season’s past, they were a co-op squad with New Fairfield.
“It will take some time for the guys, but these guys are starting to believe they can score goals,” Lugo said. “They put up four goals on a good team. We have to continue to drive into the crease and get more quality shots, instead of waiting for the perfect snipe.”
“I got a few opportunities earlier in the game and I just couldn’t finish, so getting that game-winning goal at the end was the best feeling you can get,” Kovalev said.
Added Wesley Zolin: “It was a great way to bounce back in our home-opener and show the state we still have something. We came up with the win and showed what we have as a team.”