HAMDEN — After losing four straight games and seven of its last eight, the Hamden hockey team was searching for some answers. A pregame pep talk from Hamden alumni may have done the trick.
Junior Matthew Barnett scored twice, once on the power and another short-handed, and Logan Cathey made 22 saves as the Green Dragons improved to 6-9-1 with a thorough 3-1 victory over rival West Haven at Lou Astorino Ice Rink Sunday night.
“We had a meeting before the game with some hockey alumni,” Barnett said. “We were not playing well. They encouraged us. This is a big win for us.”
The Green Dragons wasted no time setting the tone. Forward Sam Carignan had the first solid scoring opportunity of the game 3 minutes, 50 seconds in, but West Haven goaltender Mike Savino made the save.
Savino came up big throughout the night for the Westies, finishing with 33 saves. Unfortunately for West Haven, not many others on the squad matched their goaltender’s intensity for the rivalry game.
“We did not show up today,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said after his team fell to 6-7-1. “Mike Savino showed up. We did not move our feet. We were standing still. We cannot do that.
“I am disappointed. This is a big rivalry and a big game for us. We did not show up.”
The Green Dragons used special teams to take a lead they never relinquished. Barnett was at the center of both goals, taking a perfect pass from Carignan and one-timing a shot past Savino for a power-play goal 6:11 into the game.
Just 1: 23 later, Barnett gave Hamden a 2-0 advantage. With West Haven on the power play, Barnett and James Magson broke in on Savino on a two-on-one break.
Magson slid a perfect pass to Barnett, who tapped a shot past Savino for a two-goal lead with 7:26 left in the opening period.
“We have had a few injuries and we have switched things up a bit,” Barnett said. “Sam Carignan gave me a great pass back door. On the penalty kill, (James) Magson worked his butt off and got the pass to me.”
After being outplayed in the opening period, West Haven cut the deficit in half with just 46 seconds remaining in the period. Matt Kelly fired a shot at Cathey and the rebound went right to Joe Ayala for a late goal in the period.
Ayala’s goal proved to be the only scoring until 4:48 remained in the game. Eric Perez assisted on Christian Ugolik’s goal as Ugolik poked in a rebound for the 3-1 final.
“This was a big game for us,” Barnett said. “We came together as a team before the game and talked about how we were going to get it done. We talked about how we were going to get back on track. We were ready to play.”
In between Ayala’s goal for West Haven and Ugolik’s clincher for Hamden, both goaltenders made several solid saves.
Savino was at his best in the second period, making 19 saves. He came up big when he denied a wrist shot from Michael DeMatteis from the right wing, denied two point shots from Timothy Gontarski and stopped Barnett on an odd-man rush with Ugolik.
Cathey needed to make only seven saves in each of the middle and third periods. In the second period, Cathey denied Kevin Coyle off the left wing 4:30 in and again in front with 4:29 to go in the period.
West Haven’s opportunities were limited in the third period as only a Jeremy Borelli shot from in front 2:40 in and a Peter Lynn shot followed by Ayala’s rebound with 8:58 remaining were the toughest shots seen by Cathey.