Greenwich defeats St. Joseph for FCIAC hockey title
MVP Mike Mozian scored two goals, Nick Bozzuto turned away every shot, and coach Bob Russel’s Greenwich High boys hockey team defeated sixth-seeded St. Joseph of Trumbull, 5-0, to win the FCIAC championship at Terry Conner Rink in Stamford on Saturday.
The top-seeded Cardinals (18-4-0) took the lead on Owen Johnson’s goal with only nine seconds remaining in an evenly-played first period. KC Cunningham had the assist, as he found Johnson open at the post. Cadet goalie Ryan Wilson (32 saves) momentarily left inches for Johnson to shoot at and the junior used every bit of space to put his team in the lead.
Mozian made it 2-0 only 3:49 into the second period after his shot tipped off a Cadet skate and into the net. The Big Red, who won the shots on goal battle 37-19, made use of a power-play opportunity and Mozian back-doored a shot in for a 3-0 lead with 9:34 left in the stanza. Calvin McKinney and Akira Dunham had the assists.
“The first goal was huge...The next one I think was a low shot off a skate,” Russel said. “We talked a lot about trying to shoot low, so at least we’d get a second chance. Sometimes you get a break and it bounces the right way. We had the right pressure on at the right time.”
St. Joseph coach J.R. Bria agreed.
“Up until the nine-minute mark of the second period, when they got their second goal, I thought we were firing on all cylinders and just didn’t score on our opportunities,” Bria said. “The first period was a great period to watch. Unfortunately for us after going down two it took the wind out of our sails.”
Coming out of a timeout down two goals, the Cadets (12-10-1) looked to answer.
Sean Attanasio connected on a pass to Adam Usinger, who looked for Will Gilbert but Aiden Connerty rode him off the puck. Off the ensuing faceoff, Will Foldesi looked for Nick DiSabella, but the puck skipped over his stick with 7:12 left in the frame.
“Their first line 8-9-17 (DiSabella, Foldesi and Usinger) are all excellent hockey players,” Russel said. “The challenge for us was trying to dampen their momentum when they play every second shift. We had two lines we were willing to match with them and kept switching off. I thought there was no way they could stay with us with us for three periods with us playing three lines and matched against that line.
“We played little more conservatively and tried to track (Usinger) through the middle of the ice….A couple of times you saw him go early in the first….He’s a horse….Everyone gets puck watching and the next thing you know there’s a guy open.”
The Cadets’ Stephen Paine was rewarded for strong forechecking with a centering pass that just missed the junior in front of the net at 6:12 of the second period. Kevin Faustich then stole away a GHS centering pass and fed Kyle Parchinski, who made a quick rush up ice only to see his shot stopped by Bozzuto.
“Honestly, I thought it was going to be like a 1-0, 2-1 game,” said Bozzuto, who made 19 stops. “For us to put five in on Wilson is huge, he’s a great goalie. Our defense was unbelievable. I didn’t have that many shots...Our forechecking was great.”
His coach said, “A shutout victory and an FCIAC championship, that’s a nice job by Bozzutto. I’m incredibly pleased with his effort and how good he’s been.”
Alex Mozian took the score to 4-0 when the sophomore made a fine move to open up a shooting lane and tallied with 2:28 remaining in the second. John Lawrence and Mike Mozian were credited with assists.
Cunningham took away any hope for St. Joseph when the senior redirected Colin Kelly’s shot from the post with only 12 seconds gone in the third period.
“Scoring in the first minute or the last minute is always big,” Russel said. “My feeling was the second was really the key. Then I thought everyone loosened up. Our forechecking was excellent today. We didn’t want to give them any space.”
Bria said: “They are a fantastic team, an older team with a great goalkeeper and guys that can score goals. The FCIACS are great...We wanted to win for us and to win for our school. We always want to win the next game. Now the work starts again on Wednesday in the state tournament. Simsbury is a great defense team. I think they have one sophomore, the rest are juniors and seniors, so we’ll definitely have our work cut out for us.”