North Haven’s Andrew Sacco is 6-1 in his career in the state tournament and has allowed over two goals twice in that span.
— Pete Paguaga (@PetePaguaga) March 10, 2020
NORTH BRANFORD — We’ve reached that time of the boys hockey season when goalie matchups become almost a given, when the heart and soul of one team bows out as the guy at the other end carries his team one round further.
North Haven and Andrew Sacco carried on Monday night. Sacco made 20 saves in a 3-0 win over Trumbull at Northford Ice Pavilion in the first round of the CIAC Division II tournament.
“It was the first (shutout) he’s had all year, too,” North Haven coach Chris Avena said. “For him to get it now, and for him to start playing the best hockey he’s played in the last two weeks is what you want out of your goaltender. He’s as solid as you get.”
Seventh-seeded North Haven (13-7-3) advances to Friday’s quarterfinals to face second-seeded Hand (18-3-1), which beat Guilford 7-0 earlier in the day. The site and time of that game, the third between the teams in 14 days, is to be announced.
Trumbull, seeded 10th, finished 10-10-1 after senior Alex Tsymbalyuk’s last game for the Eagles.
“This was kind of a snapshot of our season,” Trumbull coach Greg Maxey said. “We’ve had really good goaltending all year and a lot, a lot of games we didn’t put goals up to help him out.
“We played them earlier (a 2-1 overtime loss to North Haven on Jan. 11) and made the same mistakes today that we did then. We took a lot of penalties early, got them going a little bit.”
Sacco made some big saves early — Avena said he and the goalie talked after the first period about a stop Sacco made stacking the pads — which let the Indians get out of the first period with a lead.
Without both Jake Hines and Eli Brubacher, ill, the Indians changed a few things up. One put freshman Tommy Guidone on the five-on-three power play, and he was in front to pounce on a loose puck and score.
Billy Fiore and Donny Funaro scored in the second period, and North Haven didn’t give up many scoring chances after that.
“We talked about in the beginning that we didn’t want to hear (about who was missing) again,” Avena said. “We had to go with who we had. We’ve been working really hard in practice, and it showed, because we didn’t take a shift off.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Andrew Sacco won the Division III title last year with LHK and had a pretty good night Monday.
“I’d say I play my best in pressure situations, mostly,” he said. “My dad was the same way. He taught me, under pressure, it’s your time to shine. Lights, camera, action.”
Tsymbalyuk was a captain for Trumbull and a key to their successes this year.
“Last year, he was good, and this year, he was so consistent,” Maxey said. “I think there were maybe two or three goals all year he would’ve wanted back. He was rock-solid. He gave us a legit chance to win, whether it was D-I teams, tournament games.”
“Trumbull was a tough draw. We knew we’d have to play our top game, and I thought we did. We move on, and now we get Round 3 with the Tigers.” —North Haven coach Chris Avena