When cross-town rivals Notre Dame and West Haven meet on the ice, nothing extra is needed to add to the intensity. Add a pre-game ceremony which honors First Responders, and a state championship team from over 60 years ago, and you have the makings of a special day.
When 45 minutes were completed on the ice, the Green Knights, ranked third in the Register/GameTimeCt Top 10 poll, dominated the Westies, 4-1, in a Division I contest at the Edward L. Bennett Rink Saturday afternoon.
“We are getting better,” Notre Dame coach Tim Belcher said. “We had plenty of chances today. Any time you put 56 shots on goal, you want to score more goals. But, you have to give a lot of credit to Logan (Cole). He played great today. He played a fantastic game.”
West Haven goaltender Logan Cole was the lone bright spot on the day for the Westies, turning aside 52 shots as the Westies were outshot 56-6 in the game. The Green Knights dominated in every facet of the game, but Cole kept his team within striking distance until late in the third period.
“Logan was unbelievable today,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said of Cole. “He showed up to play. They just beat us to every puck. They won every battle.”
Prior to the contest with the city rivals, there was a ceremony honoring the 1950-1951 West Haven hockey team, which won the state championship, but was never included on the state championship banner which has been displayed at the Edward L. Bennett Rink for several decades.
Three members of that championship team of 67 years ago – Tom Lawson, Jim McKeon, and Tom Knudsen – were on hand to see the team recognized with the other West Haven hockey state championship seasons. The 1950-1951 team finished the regular season 8-0-1, outscoring its opponents 48-12 and averaging 5.3 goals scored and 1.3 goals allowed per game.
“This means everything to them,” Bill Meaney, whose father Jack played on the 1950-1951 championship team, said. “They are very proud of what they accomplished. They are now placed with all the great West Haven High School hockey teams. They were a pretty dominant team.”
Bill Meaney actually noticed the team was not recognized on the banner when he went to a fall league game at the rink to see his daughter play. After confirming the team was a state championship squad, Meaney contacted West Haven Athletic Director Jon Capone, and worked with West Haven Superintendent of Schools Neil C. Cavallaro, and the Board of Education to make everything happen so quickly.
“Jon Capone was very gracious,” Meaney said. “He made numerous phone calls and got verification. We picked out a date quickly, and we coordinated with the Board of Education. I want to thank Neil Cavallaro for meeting.”
Michael Bencivengo led the Green Knights with a goal and an assist, including the lone goal of the first period to give the Green Knights a 1-0 lead after 15 minutes of play. The opening period also saw Notre Dame hold a 14-1 shot advantage in the period.
Bencivengo then set up Zack Dumas just 52 seconds into the second period for a 2-0 lead. When Kevin Millea’s blast from the point beat Cole with 6:14 left in the middle period, Notre Dame held a 3-0 advantage.
“We wanted to put a lot of shots on net,” Bencivengo said. “We moved the puck well. We made it easier on ourselves by not allowing them a lot of shots. We are playing well right now.”
West Haven, which struggled to generate any offense in the game and is 0-7-1 in its last eight games, finally got on the scoreboard with 7.1 seconds left in the middle period. Off a faceoff, Niko Kyle roofed a shot under the crossbar to get West Have within two goals.
The Westies (2-10-1) never got closer as a stifling Notre Dame pressure, held West Haven scoreless on five power play opportunities.
The Green Knights (9-5) put the game away with six minutes to go in the game as Ian Hayden scored off assists from Devin Napoli and Thomas Ashmore.
Cole made several outstanding saves in the victory, with his best coming in a sequence of the second period in which the Westies were down by a pair of goals. Cole denied Micahel Ansaldo with a pad save, then followed with a tremendous pad save off Bencivengo on the rebound. Cole also denied Bencivengo on a breakaway in the third.
Napoli and Christopher Hibson each finished with a pair of assists, while Hayden also had a goal and an assist. Nicholas Piselli finished with six saves in the win for the Green Knights.