Cadets defeat Rams in OT, on to FCIAC title game

The St. Joseph High School boys ice hockey team punched its ticket to the FCIAC championship game in dramatic fashion Wednesday night at the Terry Connors Rink, scoring a game-winning goal in overtime to beat New Canaan High School, 3-2.

With the victory, St. Joseph advanced to the FCIAC championship game to play fourth-seeded Ridgefield High, which stunned top-seeded Darien High 2-1 in overtime. The game is set for 6 p.m. Saturday at Connors Rink.

“This is a great feeling,” St. Joseph head coach Marty Crouse said. “To keep on winning is awesome. As long as we can keep the momentum going, we have a good shot at doing great things.

“A game like this is good because it creates some character. We have shown that we can pull out games in tight situations and have been behind before and come back. The game could have gone either way.

“I think we outplayed them to some degree, but when the score it tied, it doesn’t mean anything.”

With 10:41 to play in the overtime period, some stellar forechecking in the St. Joseph zone forced a turnover.

Charging up the ice, Dom Sidorczuk passed the puck to Sean Smith from just inside the blue line and unloaded a missile that went high and eluded NCHS goalie Christopher Koennecke for the overtime-winning goal.

“There was some forechecking that started the play and the we fired a shot at the net,” said Crouse. “We had a few opportunities where we couldn’t get the puck to the net.

“You’re not going to score if you don’t shoot, so we took a few shots in overtime and that one went in. It’s comforting for us knowing that we could play our third line like that and have them score two of the goals today. They did a great job.”

The Cadets received goals from Filippo Petrini and Christian Keator. Both the goals game when St. Joseph was playing catch-up.

New Canaan, which outshot St. Joseph 35-32, was led by junior Henry Stanton, who finished with both of the team’s goals.

“Harry’s performance is what you usually get,” New Canaan head coach Bo Hickey said. “He’s one of the best players in Connecticut. If you try and handle him 1-on-1, he’ll still find a way. He has the moves and he’s blinding quick.”

Stanton got on the board with 8:44 to play in the first period, as the Rams forced a turnover deep in the St. Joseph end.

Senior Puck Richardson got the loose puck and dished to Stanton, who blasted the shot home.

However it didn’t take SJHS long to respond. Off some nice back-and-forth play between the two schools, Ryan Corcoran got the puck and passed up ice to Petrini, who lunched a shot from several feet away to tie the score.

After a scoreless second period and the score still knotted at 1-1, Stanton struck again.

On the power play, the trio of Richardson, sophomore Luke Amero and Stanton were working the puck around the front of the net. Stanton fired a shot with 12:03 left that Cadet goalie Marc Van Etten saved, but Stanton regained control and netted his second goal of the game.

Again, St. Joseph was quick to respond. Less than two minutes after the Rams took the 2-1 lead, the Cadet netted the equalizer.

Keator worked the puck through the middle of the ice and shot a backhander to the right corner of the net for the score.

“We were up 1-0 and 2-1 and I thought the kids played well,” said Hickey. “We went up and down the rink with the best of them and it was a great hockey game. If you paid to get in today, you didn’t get cheated out of your money.”

Van Etten was stellar in net for the Cadets, making 33 saves on the day.