WATERBURY, Vt. — The Connecticut Wolf Pack defeated the Seacoast (NH) Spartans 5-1 to win the New England Tier I 14-and-Under championship on St. Patrick’s Day at the Ice Center in Waterbury, Vt.
The Wolf Pack spotted the Spartans a goal before taking command. The two teams had played to a 2-2 knot earlier in the day. The Wolf Pack salvaged the tie in the morning session when Billy Overby sent a knuckler from the point into the far top corner with 43 seconds remaining.
In the final, the Spartans endured another almost-made-it-to-the-locker-room moment at the end of the first period when they gave up a two-man advantage goal to Eric Esposito with one second left on the clock.
Jack Hoey and Liam Murphy, who were prominent in Connecticut’s win, assisted Esposito’s power-play goal. The Wolf Pack pounced on Seacoast for two more power-play goals in the first 3:30 of the second period and it was on to the USA Hockey National Championships in Pittsburgh from there. Alex Mella scored the Wolf Pack’s fourth goal, right after a power play expired.
Hoey had two goals and two assists in the final and was active in the Spartan zone from start to finish. His tourney totals were eight goals, five assists.
“Jack is a high-energy guy,” coach Peter Alden said approvingly. “He’s a good, hard-working player who’s great on the power play. His feet are always moving. He does a lot of the dirty work along the boards.”
Hoey is one of four players, along with Jack McGowen, Jake Fuss and Overby, who merged into the Wolf Pack from a Mid-Fairfield team. Michael Ansaldo, Michael Belliveau, Josh Workman, Eric Esposito and Will Schlichtig are former Connecticut Bobcats. Another portion of the Wolf Pack roster is a quartet that has played together for years — Christopher Connolly, Lucas Niezelski, goalie Dominick Sorgio and Brendan Casey. Connolly had a hat trick and an assist against the Rhode Island Saints on Saturday.
Sorgio manned the net in the championship game. He is headed to Salisbury School. Casey, like several members of the Pack, is an avid lacrosse player, playing goalie in that sport as well. Overby is a lacrosse midfielder at Fairfield Prep High School, where he’s joined by Fuss, Hoey, McGowen, Workman and Schlichtig.
Murphy, the team’s leading scorer, displayed power, size and speed while scoring goal and three assists.
“Liam’s headed to Avon Old Farms,” Liam’s father noted. “He plays hard like his older brother, who was tough as nails but didn’t have hands like his kid brother.”
“We try to keep it simple,” coach Peter Alden said. “Take care of your zone, work hard on the basic skills — positioning, skating, speed. Our kids come from all over the state. We travel quite a bit and try to give the guys visibility. We play in the Atlantic Youth Hockey League, which is one of the East Coast’s best.”
Alden is a former UMass Amherst player and a Choate assistant coach. Former UMass Amherst player Dave Leaderer assists him. The coaches cited a 2-1 win over Comcast, tying the New Jersey Devils in the final 30 seconds and playing the Moscow Selects competitively in the Toronto Marlies tournament as seasonal highlights.
“We emphasize scholastics, and most of our players are in the A-B range,” coach Alden said. “We ask for report cards and pay close attention. They’re proud to show us, which is the way we like it.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.