STAMFORD — In the end, it was a contest where each side came away with its own unique point of view.
The Westhill-Stamford Co-op boys ice hockey team downed intracity rival Trinity Catholic, 6-1 Saturday afternoon at Terry Conners rink.
The outcome was really decided before the opening puck drop.
Westhill-Stamford arrived with a contingent of 16 available skaters along with a pair of reserve goalies. Trinity Catholic had eight skaters (two others home with the flu) and goalie Jeff Reda. Since two of the Crusaders are new to the game of hockey, their ice time is limited.
That left a Trinity Catholic Gang of Six (senior co-captains Jack Kinahan and Andrew Ellis, defensemen Emmett Donoghue and Matt DiMartino along with Jack Smith, Martin Salantay) to deal with a Vikings squad ranked No. 6 in the state in Division II.
James Leydon, Thomas Waterbury and Andrew Ukhanov tallied for a 3-0 edge after one period. Westhill-Stamford added two goals early in the third period for 5-0. Trinity Catholic was obviously gassed from its efforts including killing off four penalties in a scoreless second period.
Although Westhill-Stamford improved to 7-2-1 overall, earned its first FCIAC victory in three contests and kept possession of the Stamford City Boys Hockey Championship trophy, the Vikings weren’t happy.
“We played good games that were close losses to Ridgefield and Darien in the past week. And then we face Trinity Catholic with their roster situation,” said Westhill-Stamford coach John Santagata. “This is a bad game for us. All it can do is get us into bad habits and worry about kids getting injured. None of the FCIAC hockey coaches want to put their teams in this situation against Trinity. This isn’t a good way for us to prepare for big games against Branford (ranked No. 1 in Division II) and Greenwich (No. 9 in Division I) next week.”
Their limited numbers forced Trinity Catholic to play in a defensive shell with just a handful of offensive chances in the Westhill-Stamford end of the ice. WS sophomore goalie Luca Scotto finished with six saves.
Trinity Catholic did score with 8:36 left to go as Martin Salantay put home a rebound of his own shot. The Crusaders had used their lone timeout just 20 seconds before the goal.
The player who got the most out of the game was Trinity Catholic junior goalie Reda.
Reda collected 21 saves in the first period, 35 saves in the scoreless second period and 18 saves in the third period for 74 saves in all.
“Jeff’s attitude is even better than his performance. He is the one most critical of his performance,” said Trinity Catholic coach Pete Pinto. “He doesn’t ever want to let his teammates down.”
The videotapes of Reda’s play will help as the junior gets closer to college. And No. 9 ranked Trinity Catholic (4-5, 0-2 FCIAC) has fared well against fellow Division III state rivals this season. The Crusaders have topped Newtown (3-1), Northeastern (4-3 and 4-2) and Milford Co-op (4-3). However, TC has just two games with Masuk left on its Division III slate.
“This is my second season with Trinity Catholic. So I knew what the situation was,” Reda said. “The wins over the Division III schools mean the world to our team.”
Westhill-Stamford will focus on the FCIAC playoffs and Division II state tournament. Trinity Catholic hopes for the best in an uncertain future.