Boys hockey: Trumbull takes on DI New Canaan Rams

Undaunted by an encounter with Division I foe New Canaan, the D-II Trumbull High team hung close with its FCIAC foes in a 4-3 setback at The Rinks At Shelton on Saturday night.

When all was said and done, coach Greg Maxey and company weren’t looking for a consolation prize but, rather, felt that one may have gotten away.

“We knew they were vulnerable this year,” Maxey said of the Rams. “We knew it was an uphill challenge, but we felt good about it.”

It was a strong showing and a positive sign for the Eagles who, after winning three in a row, fell to 3-4 overall. New Canaan improved to 5-4, including an overtime setback.

“I think we’ve played better,” Maxey said. “We had a pretty good showing here, at least for two periods. I think we’re moving in the right direction.”

The game was scoreless after one period. The Eagles struggled in the stanza, Maxey said, outshot 13-5 along the way. Alex Tsymbalyuk in goal kept things scoreless.

Trumbull turned it up in the middle stanza.

“I think we started wearing them down a little bit,” Maxey said of his team’s second-period play.

New Canaan scored first, 4:30 into the second on a rebound that Justin Wietfeldt cashed in on.

Eagle defenders Emmanuel Bellios and Luke Ferretti both broke up plays when the Rams threatened to add to the lead.

At the 8:51 mark, Trumbull’s John Guerrera, assisted by Owen Finnegan and John McLean, tied the score by putting a shot past New Canaan’s Dylan Shane.

Less than five minutes later, at 13:04, Trumbull went ahead 2-1.

McLean created a neutral-zone turnover, which following a scramble in front of the net, led to Finnegan’s go-ahead tally. Guerrera had the primary assist and McLean the secondary helper.

Tsymbalyuk made 33 saves, as the Rams’ attack dominated.

The Eagles had killed off a penalty between their first and second net-finders, with Marco Minopoli and John Therriault among those blocking shots and clearing the zone during the kill.

“They’ve been dynamite,” Maxey said of the line of Finnegan, McLean and Guerrera. “They don’t quit. They’re smart. Those guys move their feet. They’ve been really good.”

A bulk of the New Canaan’s chances, Rams’ coach Clark Jones noted, came from the outside. Jones acknowledged that his squad needs to find more players to create scoring chances and put the puck in the net.

It was New Canaan’s defense which led the way in the attack zone; three of the team’s goals came off the sticks of defensemen.

The Rams scored twice in a 23-second span early in the third for a 3-2 lead, and scored a key insurance tally on what proved to be decisive tally with just over a minute remaining.

New Canaan put pressure on in Trumbull’s defensive zone to start the third and the momentum led to goals at 3:46 and 4:09.

Trumbull’s Therriault, Alex Chopskie and Nicholas Marinos generated chances down low, but couldn’t get the equalizer.

New Canaan then scored with 1:05 left for a 4-2 lead.

With the goaltender pulled for the extra skater, Trumbull got it back to a one-goal deficit with time to spare after Alex Jackel was assisted by Guerrera.

Tsymbaluk came up with some key stops, including some in bunches during New Canaan’s offensive flurries. He made a trio of stops in succession just before New Canaan’s fourth tally.

“Alex is a hard worker. He wants to win,” Maxey said.

That can be said for the Eagles on the whole.

“Give credit to Trumbull. They work very hard,” Jones said.