DANBURY – With a minute and a half remaining, the Bethel/Brookfield/Danbury hockey team was tied with New Milford on Saturday afternoon.
After trailing by two goals, the co-op rallied in the third period to tie the game and overtime was only a short time away.
The team’s undefeated streak was also on the line.
With two New Milford players in the penalty box, BBD coach Rusty Granacker called a timeout and tapped his senior defenseman Aidan Garvey to go on the ice.
“Where do you want me on the blue line?” Garvey asked his coach.
“You’re not playing (defense) son, you’re playing forward,” Granacker said. “Go score a goal.”
Garvey took a pass outside the slot, worked his way below the dots and took a shot.
“I saw a little spot right by the post,” Garvey said. “I knew we didn’t have much time left, so I just fired it and it went where I wanted it to go.”
The puck hit the goalie and went in the back of the net with 4.9 seconds left to beat New Milford, 4-3, keeping the undefeated season alive.
“It was incredible, one of the top moments in my hockey career,” BBD senior captain Anthony Britton said. “I just could not believe the puck went into the net.”
That’s the type of season the IceCats are having.
They are 8-0-0, tied for the program’s best start to a season since the 2009-2010 team and have clinched their first SCC/SWC Division III regular season title.
“I thought we would do well this season,” BBD junior Kenny Granacker said. “But I didn’t think we would be undefeated at the end of all of our league games.”
BBD is scoring 4.25 goals per game, which is more than any BBD team in the last 11 years.
Britton centers the top line with Kyle Boller on his left side and Kenny Granacker on the right. Combined the line mates have scored 20 goals, 22 assists for 42 points.
“They know where each other is on the ice,” Rusty Granacker said. “They’re not the most physical line, but they do not give on anything. They’re gritty and they move the puck well to each other.”
The high scoring offense and wins are new to this group. BBD hasn’t won eight or more games in a regular season since 2016 and the team won three games last season.
“Last year it seemed like it was almost a pregame ritual, that people would talk about how much we were going to get killed by the next team and how much we were going to lose by,” Boller said.
But this year the attitude is completely different.
“We know we can win every game, we’re all just coming together,” Boller added.
The five seniors on the team have been playing together since youth hockey and they credit that for creating a bond that has carried over onto the ice.
“I don’t think anyone has as much fun as us in the locker room and on the ice,” Boller said.
The fun and leadership trickled down into the locker room, especially on the sophomore class, specifically the second line. Dmitry Yates, Kevin Dykes and Canaan Sturdevant form the all-sophomore second line for the IceCats. The trio hit the ground running right away and added a secondary scoring punch.
“It was like there was no learning curve,” Garvey said. “They came right in and they were really hot, scoring goals, making great plays.”
With no chance to claim the program’s first state title this year, the co-op has its eyes set on the conference title. The program has yet to win one in the SCC/SWC, but they won the SWC D2/D3 conference title in 2010 and 2012.
“I definitely knew that this was going to be a special season,” Britton said. “I knew we would stir the pot a little bit and get things going.”