EAST HAVEN – Ten days ago, East Haven hockey coach Lou Pane looked at the next four games on his team’s schedule and hoped to win two of the next four games.
The Yellowjackets did one better, winning three of four games, including a pair of victories over Division I teams in the top 10 of the GameTimeCT/New Haven Register poll. The latest of those came Wednesday night when No. 8 East Haven edged No. 9 Simsbury, 5-4, at the Patsy DiLungo Rink.
Among those three victories were also wins over West Haven and Watertown-Pomperaug. In between, the Yellowjackets (11-1) suffered their first loss last Saturday, 8-3 to Farmington Valley.
“We cashed in three of the four and beat two Top 10 opponents,” Pane said. “We had a period where we had injuries and got hit with the flu last week and it showed in the game Saturday. But it was a good reality check for us. Sometimes a loss can be a good learning lesson.”
He did question the Yellowjackets’ effort over the first 15 minutes Wednesday night. Simsbury clearly outplayed East Haven for the first 15 minutes with Riley Chapman and Jake Magaw putting the Trojans ahead, 2-0, after the first period.
“We sleepwalked through the first period and I was furious,” Pane said. “I told them you’re not going to walk through the game. It’s all about effort, not talent. We didn’t play at all in the first period and I was upset by that.”
It took just 57 seconds for things to change in the second period. With Magaw in the penalty box for a cross check, Joe Lorello ripped a shot past Simsbury goalie Andrew Marquis to close the gap in half.
Just over three minutes later, Lorello scored his second goal of the night to tie things up at 2-2.
Simsbury (6-6), however, took advantage of a holding penalty by East Haven’s Chris Giglietti to take its final lead of the night as Magaw fed Connor Bettor with a perfect pass from behind the net to the slot in front. Bettor put it over East Haven goalie Matt Twarowski and just underneath the crossbar.
Nick Capone, the area’s leading scorer with 20 goals and 45 points, scored his 20th of the season on a rebound in front of Marquis with 4:49 remaining in the period to tie things at 3-3.
“We got back in the game in the second period with the work ethic we’re supposed to come out with,” Pane said. “Before the third period, I told them it had to carry over to win the game.”
Just as in the second period, it didn’t take long for East Haven to get on the board. Joe Aloi flipped a rebound over Marquis and just under the crossbar 51 seconds into the period to give the Yellowjackets the lead for good.
And 24 seconds later, and with two Trojans in the penalty box, Jake Aloi blasted a shot from the right point to give East Haven an insurance goal.
Simsbury closed it to 5-4 three minutes later when Will Swenson scored. And the Trojans seemingly scored the tying goal with 11.4 seconds to go, but the Trojans were whistled for interfering with Twarowski in the crease and the goal was waived off.
Simsbury coach Chris Day was upset after the game with the 8-3 differential in penalties.
“I don’t like coming down here and losing, 5-4, when there were influences that were beyond my control,” Day said. “I’m not sure all those penalties were justified, but we ran into a very good power play. Those guys were crisp. You can’t get any momentum when you have a guy in the box. When you’re even strength can play your game.”
East Haven outshot Simsbury, 45-39.