STAMFORD — Health is important to most high school teams.
For the Trinity Catholic boys ice hockey, health is a critical factor.
The flu bug sidelined Crusaders leading scorer Jack Kinahan and forward Matt Dimartino for Saturday’s home contest against Joel Barlow-Weston-Abbott Tech (JBWA).
The remaining 10 Trinity Catholic skaters and sophomore goalie Jeff Reda put forth a heroic effort before the partisan crowd at Terry Conners rink.
But enthusiasm and character could not overcome depth and talent as JBWA fashioned an 8-1 triumph.
“I’m proud of the effort considering we were short a few guys,” Trinity Catholic coach Tucker Grose said. “We had kids playing big minutes which was a good experience for them. Hopefully the knowledge gained will help us down the road.”
KNIGHTS AREN’T SHY WITH THE PUCK
Joel Barlow-Weston-Abbott Tech spent the majority of the contest in the Trinity Catholic zone as the Crusaders were forced to take an extreme defensive posture.
The Knights were opportunistic as they cashed in three power-play chances.
JBWA’s top forward line stuffed the stat sheet. Senior Andrew Powell (hat trick, two assists), sophomore Dan McKiernan (two goals, two assists) and senior Travis Nussbaum (one goal, two assists) paced the Knights’ attack.
As Trinity Catholic’s gang of 10 wore down, JBWA was able to score mainly on deflections or rebounds around the net.
“The Trinity Catholic kids did the best they could,” Joel Barlow’s fifth-year coach Bobby Stearns said. “I knew we had depth and bench strength and firepower on our side. It was just a matter of time.”
CO-OP STATUS SUITS KNIGHTS
JBWA improved to 4-2 overall with Saturday’s win in this first season as a co-op hockey squad.
“The Co-op experience has been good. We have talent and depth (22 on roster),” Stearns said. “All three schools have come together. They’ve provided all the resources I need so I just focus on coaching the kids. The fact Abbott Tech is just minutes away from Danbury arena makes it easier. With our depth, the kids have to own up to their responsibilities on the ice because there are options for the playing minutes.”
JBWA moved up to No. 3 in the early state Division III rankings with Saturday’s triumph.
“I feel good about where we are at the moment,” Stearns said. “Our next opponent (Sheehan) is a top team (No. 8 entering Saturday’s action) in Division III. That will be a big, big test for us.”
TC GOALIE REDA IMPRESSES
Despite the final outcome, Trinity Catholic’s sophomore goalie Jeff Reda earned significant kudos Saturday.
Reda finished with 40 saves including 20 in the second period. JBWA’s senior goalie Kevin Brennan (an Abbott Tech student) made 17 saves as Will Schaner had the lone TC goal.
“Trinity Catholic’s goalie played out of his mind. He had so many spectacular saves,” JBWA coach Stearns said. “The scoreboard doesn’t indicate what a hot goalie he was. Hats off to him.”
It won’t get easier for Reda or Trinity Catholic (3-3 overall, No. 11 in Div. III) as the FCIAC portion of the Crusaders’ schedule beckons.
“Jeff (Reda) was phenomenal. He’s been focused like that every game for us,” TC coach Grose said. “He makes highlight-reel saves. He will be very well-known before this season ends.”
JOEL BARLOW 8, TRINITY CATHOLIC 1
JOEL BARLOW 2 3 3—8
TRINITY CATHOLIC 0 1 0—1
Records: Joel Barlow-Weston-Abbott Tech 4-2, Trinity Catholic 3-3.
Goals: JBWA—Dan McKiernan 2, Andrew Powell 3, Travis Nussbaum, Dante Esposito, Ryan Lauter. TC—Will Schaner. Assists: JBWA—Dan Rooney, Matteo Naclerio, Evan Baran, Dylan Leone, Travis Nussbaum 2, Andrew Powell 2, Dan McKiernan 2, Ted Blanchard 2, Luke Dube. Goalies: JBWA—Kevin Brennan (17 saves). TC—Jeff Reda (40 saves).