WEST HAVEN — From the drop Friday night, as it was from the drop in December, the top team in SCC/SWC Division III was Sheehan.
The top-seeded Titans scored in the first minute and rolled to a 7-1 win over third-seeded New Milford at Bennett Rink, winning their third consecutive conference championship, unbeaten in league play.
Next up for Sheehan (18-3-1) is its quest for the first state title in school history; The Titans are the top seed there, too. They were CIAC Division III runners-up to crosstown rival LHK last year.
“(This) means a lot, but we’re not done yet. Our main goal is a state championship,” said Anthony Romano, who scored three goals and added an assist Friday.
“We’ve been waiting all summer and all fall. It’s finally here. It’s kind of surreal.”
— Will Aldam (@AldamWill) March 7, 2020
In this game, Anthony Romano recorded a natural hat trick in the first period, one at even strength, one just after a power play expired and one short-handed to build a 5-0 lead with 3:07 left in the period.
His twin brother, Joe, was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Joe opened the scoring Friday 50 seconds in on Friday, and he had a hat trick in Tuesday’s 8-4 semifinal win over Newtown.
“It was important to jump on (the Green Wave) early, put them away early,” Joe Romano said.
Along with these three SCC/SWC titles, Sheehan also won the SCC Division II tournament in 2007.
Third-seeded New Milford (14-7-1) was seeking its first conference championship since it won the SWC Division II tournament in 2008.
“I’m proud of them,” New Milford coach Scott Capriglione said. “It’s just tough. You’ve got a team that good, an offensive juggernaut, you try to slow them down, but they just beat us.”
The Green Wave had a lead on Sheehan in their regular-season meeting before the Titans came back to win 3-2 on Jan. 20 at Choate. That was one of Sheehan’s closest games against Division III teams; the Titans have lost only once to a D-III team, Hall/Southington.
“(New Milford) caught us off-guard last time,” Anthony Romano said. “We snuck out of there. We didn’t deserve it. We came in ready to go (Friday). We were clicking right off the bat.”
Brendan Connery sent Joe Romano up the right side for a break and a goal 50 seconds into the game. The Titans killed a New Milford penalty, and seconds later, Anthony DeFilio lifted a backhander into the top-left corner of the net to make it 2-0.
Cam Schopfer got the Green Wave on the board with a power-play goal early in the second period, not long after Devin Napoli had made it 6-0 on a rebound.
Joey Richo capped off the scoring late in the third.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Anthony Romano nearly scored his three goals three different ways. He also helped kill off the start of a major on his twin brother, Joe, late in the second period.
The CIAC tournament begins Monday. Sheehan will host 16th-seeded Trinity Catholic at 7:30 p.m. at Choate. New Milford, the fourth seed, hosts 13th-seeded JBWA at the same time at Canterbury.
“It’s defintely a good tuneup, like playing Woodstock before (the conference semifinal against) Milford,” Capriglione said; the Green Wave beat Division II Woodstock 2-0. “We got used to the speed.”
The teams could meet again on March 16 in the Division III semifinals at Yale’s Ingalls Rink.
The Romano twins combined for six of the 15 goals the Titans scored in two games.
“We talk all the time about their leadership on and off the ice, being able to step up in big games and put pucks in the net when we need them,” Sheehan coach Dave Festa said. “It shows they are true team players.”
AT THE OTHER END
Sheehan held New Milford to 14 shots. Freshman goalie Justin Lyon stopped 13.
“Our defense doesn’t get enough credit,” Anthony Romano said.
“Getting back here, getting into that playoff mode, that tournament feel, it’s very important to us.” —Sheehan coach Dave Festa