WEST HAVEN — The West Haven hockey team had four days to think about its last game against East Haven. Thoroughly outplayed in the loss, the Westies vowed to be ready the next time they hit the ice.
Senior captain Alex Scranton made sure of it.
Scoring twice, including an empty-net goal with 47 seconds left to seal the win, Scranton led the Westies to a 3-1 victory over Simsbury Wednesday night at the Edward L. Bennett Rink.
West Haven, tied for ninth in the New Haven Register Top 10 poll, improved to 4-2, while No. 8 Simsbury fell to 4-2.
“This game was huge,” Scranton said. “We know we have to work hard. We needed to build some momentum going into the Hamden game (Saturday). Hamden is a tough team no matter when we play them, so this was a big game for us.
“We knew we needed to come back with a big game. As a captain, I want to show leadership on and off the ice. We knew we had to do everything possible to win this game.”
The Westies had nine shots in the first 5 minutes and controlled play in the period. However, the only thing that mattered was the score and West Haven was on the short end at the end of the first period.
Simsbury’s Sean Gaffney ripped a laser over the left shoulder of goaltender Mike Savino with 4 minutes, 3 seconds left in the opening period on just Simsbury’s second shot.
“We knew we dominated the first period,” Scranton said. “We were not where we wanted to be. We did not give up. You can never write us off.”
After constant pressure by the Westies to start the second period, including Jeremy Borelli’s rebound attempt 20 seconds in and Peter Richetelli’s backhander in front 3 minutes later, West Haven finally got the equalizer.
Positioned in the slot, Scranton intercepted a Simsbury pass and quickly fired a shot past Andrew Marquis with 6:47 left in the middle period. West Haven needed just 2:40 to take the lead for good.
After Jaeson Puleo was denied on a breakaway, West Haven continued to attack. The pressure paid off when Matt Kelly picked up a loose puck in front and used the backhand to beat Marquis with 4:07 left in the second.
Peter Lynn and Puleo assisted on the eventual winner.
“We worked very hard,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said. “We knew we did not play well against East Haven. We know we do not play well when we coast. We have to move our feet. We were very good at that tonight.”
With Hamden and Fairfield Prep up next for the Westies, the team was well aware of the importance of the final 15 minutes. Savino made sure the lead held up when he denied Jake Arnold and James Foster from the point and stopped a blast from Gaffney off the left wing with 2:31 left after the Westies killed off a penalty.
“Saturday (East Haven) was not a good effort,” Savino said after making 23 saves. “We know we have to move our feet. We did that tonight, but it still was not our best performance. We can play better.
“Alex Scranton is on fire. He is out there for 30 minutes cleaning out the front of the net with the defense. The
defense did a great job. It was a big win.”
Scranton helped seal the victory in the final minute. With Marquis pulled for an extra attacker, Scranton picked up a loose puck in the West Haven end and fired the puck from the blue line into an empty net with 47 seconds remaining to secure the 3-1 victory.
“It’s huge,” Morrell said of Scranton’s performance. “Anytime you get two goals from a defenseman and win 3-1, it is huge. He anticipates the play well.
“Mike (Savino) is going to be Mike. The first goal was a tough one. He came back and played well. He made the saves he had to make and came up with some big ones as well.”
Marquis made 33 saves for Simsbury.