NORTHFORD — Hand coach Ken Mitchell had a lot to say to his hockey team. The Tigers had lost five straight games and had struggled throughout the first period Wednesday afternoon.
The message was received loud and clear.
The Tigers (4-5) erupted for five unanswered goals in the second period en route to an 8-1 victory over the Brookfield-Bethel-Danbury Icecats at the Northford Ice Pavilion.
“I was not easy on them between the first and second period,” Mitchell said. “We were a little flat. We had to make our own atmosphere and energy. We were scratching for a win any way.”
Mitchell was probably not pleased at the final few seconds of the opening period when BBD knotted things at 1-1.
With the Icecats (1-7) on the power play, John Vitti passed the puck to Joe Britton, who launched a blast that zipped past Hand goaltender Chase Briggs’ blocker into the top-left corner of the net just before as time expired in the period.
But things changed real quickly in the second period.
With Hand’s Danny Braumann (one goal and three assists) back on the ice after he missed the first period due to a disciplinary issue, the Tigers’ offense started to click.
Seconds after Braumann hit the ice, he got physical and made a huge check deep in the BBD defensive end. Then he got the puck from Ben Solin (three goals and four assists) and popped the puck into the top-right corner past BBD goalie Jacob Keller for a power-play goal.
“I wasn’t worried and I knew we would come back and rebound,” Solin said. “Our coach fired us up in between periods. It’s tough to play a 4:00 game right after school, but he got us to focus.”
Hand continued to dominate the remainder of the second period, taking advantage of two Icecats penalties for power-play goals, with Dan Healey and Jeff Rider getting the assists.
“Unfortunately, we made a lot of mistakes,” BBD coach Rusty Granacker said. “And when you have a couple of goal scorers like they have in Braumann and Solin, you can’t let them loose to shoot wherever they want.”
Solin was nearly impossible as a playmaker for BBD to handle with four assists in the second period, including one on all three power-play goals. He also got credit for another on Mike Belliveau’s goal as the Tigers broke things open with a 6-1 lead after two periods.
“He played pretty well today and the defense stepped up, too,” Mitchell said of Solin. “We also got a couple first goals from defensemen.”
Solin continued to be rough on BBD, scoring two of his three goals in the third period.
“We came through a hard part of our schedule and we needed something moving forward,” Solin said. “We needed any type of win under our belt. We’re looking to compete during the SCCs and the states.”
Hand outshot BBD, 26-23, with Briggs playing just the first two periods, stopping 13 shots. Backup Nate McCann came on to record nine saves in the final period.
Keller had nine saves in two periods, while Andrew Diehl came on to play the final period for the Icecats and collected nine saves.
Hand 8, Brookfield/Bethel/Danbury 1
(at North Branford)
BBD 1 0 0 — 1
Hand 1 5 2 — 8
First period—HD: Benjamin Solin (Mike Belliveau, Andrew Banasiak) 2:23; BK: Joe Britton (John Vitti) 14:59; Second period—HD: Danny Braumann (Benjamin Solin) 4:59; Jeff Rider (Danny Braumann, Benjamin Solin) 7:18; Mike Belliveau (Benjamin Solin) 8:08; Dan Healey (Danny Braumann, Benjamin Solin) 13:15; Chase Freiman (Dan Healey) 13:30; Third period—HD: Benjamin Solin 4:53; Benjamin Solin (Matt Leombruno, Danny Braumann) 11:24;
Shots—BK: 28; HD: 37;
Saves—HD: Chase Briggs 14; Nate McCann 12; BK: Jacob Keller 28;
Records—Hand 4-5; Brookfield 1-7.