— Housy Ice Hockey (@HousyIceHockey) March 11, 2020
Thursday’s CIAC Division III boys hockey quarterfinal between the Housatonic co-op and McMahon/Norwalk, wherever they played it, was going to be a beauty. Regardless of the final score, they’d both already done something special, and one was out to do something even greater.
And both, naturally, expected that one was them.
It won’t happen. The CIAC on Tuesday morning shut down the rest of the hockey, basketball and boys swimming competition over concerns about the spread of coronavirus.
Dreams ended. Seniors had suddenly played their last game. Anger reigned around the state. And two possible Cinderellas remain stuck in a quarter of the bracket, No. 7 vs. No. 15, forever more.
“It’s heartbreaking. It’s actually heartbreaking,” Housatonic senior defenseman Tyler Calhoun said over the phone Wednesday. “I can’t say enough. Senior year, the last run with your family, and it’s pretty much ripped out from under you.
“I kind of understand the whole thing. The safety and health of others is most important. It’s a tough call, and what they say is going to have to go.”
Even before the CIAC’s announcement, Norwalk superintendent Steven Adamowski had already released a memo that said Norwalk teams would not be allowed to travel to tournament games.
It was tough news to take.
“Especially having a lot of seniors,” McMahon/Norwalk coach Scott Raymond said. “They’ve been beaten up for four years. It was their time to shine, and it’s been taken out from underneath them.”
On Monday night, the first night of the tournament, Division II and Division III played their first-round games. McMahon/Norwalk met Milford at SoNo Ice House. McMahon/Norwalk hadn’t won a state playoff game since 2006, when it reached the Division III semifinals. Milford hadn’t won in the tournament since 2014.
Norwalk/McMahon won 2-1 on two short-handed goals by senior Jeb Boyrer. The team had already clinched its first winning season since 2005-06. It finishes 12-8-1.
By the end of that game, they knew they’d have a surprising opponent. Housatonic, the 15th seed, knocked off second-seeded Newington 4-0 on the road behind junior goalie John Purdy’s shutout. A tweet from @HousyIceHockey apologized for ruining everyone’s bracket. “Exhilarating” was the word, Calhoun said, as the Mountaineers moved to 8-12-1, winners of four out of five. They thought they could win on Thursday and reach a semifinal for the first time as a program.
Sorry to ruin everyone’s brackets but we are feeling Purdy good! 4-0 over Newington. First time a 15th seed beat a 2nd seed in D-3 History! Cardello 1A, Hoyt 1A, L Mollica 1G, R Mollica 1G 1A, Lynehan 2G and Purdy with the SO. We are moving on! #Believe
— Housy Ice Hockey (@HousyIceHockey) March 10, 2020
“We came together as a family,” Calhoun said. “Toward the beginning of the season, everyone was playing selfish hockey, including myself. Once we started winning some games, getting the results we wanted, it started coming together. They’re my brothers now. We started helping each other up and playing for each other.”
Just over 12 hours later, they found out their season was over. Thursday night’s game, like 27 others that had been left on the schedule, won’t happen.
“My kids were on the highest of highs,” Housatonic coach Dean Diamond said Tuesday, “and they wake up to this?”