The West Haven Squirt AA hockey team’s quest for a state title fell short as the Westies were upended by New Canaan AA, 5-2, in the state final. The team did qualify for the New England regionals in New Hampshire the weekend of March 17.
In the final, Wade Roach and Dylan Spreyer scored goals and a late rally was not enough to get the win. Charlie Gunning had one assist on the day. Gabe Calabrese had 18 saves in net.
In the thrilling semifinal, Roach took a pass from Gunning and buried the game winner with seven seconds on the clock to give the Westies a 2-1 win over the Connecticut Junior Whalers AA. Spreyer accounted for the other goal on an assist from Roach. Calabrese was stellar in net and turned away a breakaway in the last minute to set up the game winner.
In the opening round games, Roach and Gunning each buried two goals and Jeremiah McGrath added another in a 5-0 win over the Connecticut Riverhawks. AJ Farrell had two assists and Peyton Berelepsch, Nick Ciccosanti and Danny Moll each had one. Mike Paone and Calabrese combined on the shutout. Henry Strada, Dane Walsh and Alex Jenei had strong defensive games.
Gunning posted a hat trick and Berelepsch and Roach added goals in a 5-2 win over Darien AA. Cody Young posted two assists on the day, while Farrell and Colby Cushing added one each. Paone and Calabrese shared the win with a combined 14 saves.
The West Haven Bantam AA Major hockey team ended the season with a thrilling run to the semifinals of the CHC Tier 2 State Championship played at Northford Ice Pavilion this weekend. The team finished with an overall record of 26-14-2.
The Blue Devils were defeated by Whalers A, 2-0, in the semifinal. In a closely contested game, the Whalers outshot West Haven, 37-33.
West Haven earned the top seed in the National bracket by going 3-0 in pool play. The Westies opened the tournament on Friday night by beating New Canaan AA, 2-1.
New Canaan, which shut out the Westies twice during the regular season, took a 1-0 lead five minutes into the game. The Westies responded at the end of the period with a power play goal when Joel Goldman fired on net and Charlie Clarke stuffed home the rebound.
The game-winner came with just over a minute remaining in the second period as Sean Studley slid the puck out of the zone to Ethan Kelly. Kelly carried in and dropped it for Goldman and the defenseman’s wrister hit the back of the net.
Both teams battled through the third period, but the Blue Devil defense was stout. Bryce Upson was sharp, making many clutch saves late in the contest, and had 30 saves total.
On Saturday afternoon, the Westies came from behind to knock off Hamden AA, 3-2. Down 2-0 midway through the second period, Aaron Campbell got the Westies back in the game as his shot through a screen made it 2-1. Matt Kelly earned an assist on the power play goal.
Ethan Kelly tied the game 2:10 into the third on a two-man advantage. His initial shot was saved, but he chopped at the midair puck and knocked it in.
Just 13 seconds later, still on a power play, the loose puck squirted to Clarke in the slot and he coolly wristed it home. Upson (33 saves) and the defense were again tough down the stretch as Hamden applied pressure to no avail.
In the late game Saturday, the Westies dropped a feisty Central AA team, 4-2. Studley passed to Ethan Kelly who weaved in and roofed one to open the scoring.
Trailing 2-1 going into the third, Ethan Kelly tied the game with an unassisted goal. Studley then did the rest as he buried his own rebound with seven minutes left for the game-winner.
Studley then added an insurance goal on a breakaway off Kelly’s stretch pass while short-handed. The Westies outshot Central, 47-30, as Upson had 28 saves.
For all your West Haven sporting news throughout the year, including game articles by Mike Madera, highlights, photos and more, visit www.westieblue.com.