NEW HAVEN – The showdown for the Division III ice hockey championship between the Westhill-Stamford Vikings and the Staples/Weston/Shelton Wreckers was truly a tale that will be told for years, with the Vikings hanging on for a thrilling 5-4 win.
“I can’t even explain it,” said Westhill-Stamford forward Nick Rich. “I can’t put it into words. Winning a state championship, I can’t put it into words.”
Rich finished the game with a hat trick, including the game-winner with 27.8 seconds remaining in the final period. The No. 5-ranked Vikings came out of the gates sluggish, giving up a goal just 35 seconds in to the Wreckers’ Ryan Johnson. Staples/Weston/Shelton dominated the first period with 10 shots on goal. But the squad from Stamford was able to weather the early barrage and make it into the intermission down by just one, thanks in part to a strong performance from goalie Chris Compolattaro, who finished with nine saves in the period.
“We had to dig down inside of ourselves,” said co-coach John Santagata. “We just told them to stay confident and keep the puck deep. Everybody does their job … we just had to keep it deep in the corner and make sure everyone didn’t make a mistake.”
The Vikings exploded onto the ice in the second period, looking faster and skating harder. Chris Clemmenson led the way with a pair of goals just 44 seconds apart, and Rich added his first score to give Westhill-Stamford a commanding 3-1 lead. The Wreckers were able to battle back on a pair of goals by Samuel New before Rich’s game-clincher.
By: Aaron Johnson, Special Contributor to CPTV Sports
Photographer: Stan Godlewski
Click here for box score.
This game will premiere on CPTV Sports on Thursday, March 24, at 7:30 p.m. and, Tuesday, March 29 at 9:30 p.m.