Skaters get physical
Starting defenseman Sam Watson knew it, so did Trumbull High boys ice hockey head coach Greg Maxey.
The Eagles’ woes this year, after losing seven of their first 10 games, was a lack of consistency and not taking a more physical approach to the game.
“We just haven’t been able to string together three good periods of hockey,” Maxey said before the Eagles' FCIAC match-up with Staples/Weston/Shelton at The Rinks in Shelton on Jan. 25.
In this game, the same old pattern took place in the opening period, where the Wreckers jumped out to a 2-0 lead.
After three periods, however, the Eagles, backed by three second-session power-play goals, came away with a 5-3 win.
“We were as physical as we’ve been all year tonight,” said Watson, whose shot from the high slot at 4:35 of the second period drew his team even at 2-2. “We kept hitting and hitting in that third period. We managed to keep them away from our net.
“This is a big win for us. We needed it. We need some more during the next stretch.”
Even though they were outshot, 7-5, in the first 15 minutes, the Wreckers came away with a 2-0 lead on the strength of goals from Ryan Johnson (5:01) and Eric Zurmuehle (8:24).
Trumbull poured 31 shots on SWS goalie William Englehart.
The Eagles got their first goal at 2:56 of the middle session when sophomore Mike Antoniou recovered a loose puck in front of the Wreckers’ net and fired it in. At the time, SWS’s Derek Nussbaum was sitting out an interference penalty.
Watson then notched his goal, which came at 4:35. He took a pass near the point from freshman Brady Jensen, skated in and released a quick-rising shot which eluded Englehart. Also getting an assist on the goal was another freshman, Reese Sowka.
Sowka then scored at 8:09, on an assist from Jensen, as Trumbull took a 3-2 lead. The Eagles controlled play, outshooting SWS, 13-5, during the second 15 minutes.
Not yet done for the night, the Wreckers created a 3-3 tie at 1:49 of the third as Nussbaum got himself open in the slot, took a behind-the-net pass from Jesse Greenspun, and drilled a shot past Trumbull goalie Grant Vagnone (11 saves).
But the Eagles came right back. Alex Pierne tipped in a Antoniou pass on the goal-mouth at 7:35, and Jensen, after missing a breakaway opportunity earlier, got another one at 12:27 and made good on it.
The loss for the FCIAC Division III SWS team left it with a 5-5 record.
Maxey realizes that it’s a long way to the postseason, where the Eagles will need at least five more wins in order to qualify for the Division II state tournament which they won in 2012.
“I think we worked harder all week in practice getting ready for this game,” he said. “We were a much more physical team tonight. But we still need to hit more. Our power-play was good; yet it still needs to get better.”
Trumbull took 31 shots for the game and limited SWS to 14.