Boys hockey: Warriors win opener on Fung's OT goal

After surrendering the tying goal to Newtown with just 16 seconds left in regulation, the Wilton High boys hockey team bounced back in overtime to take a dramatic 4-3 victory in the season opener on Sunday night at Danbury Ice Arena.

John Fung scored the game winner with three minutes left in OT, after winning a puck in the corner and sending it in front, where it deflected into the goal.

“They were excited to get the season going. To get that first win is huge for them,” said head coach John Miserendino, who was making his coaching debut for Wilton. “We had a few ups and downs. We battled and just got the job done. It was really exciting.”

In addition to Fung’s game winner, Wilton got one goal apiece from first-line forwards Alex Biegen, Peter Koch and Brandon Jonsson. Biegen and Koch each had an assist.

The Warriors got a tremendous game in goal from Chris Randolph, who finished with 34 saves.

“Our goalie really stood on his head. He made two or three saves that you never expected a goalie to make,” said Miserendino.

Newtown finished with a 37-20 edge in shots on goal.

The Warriors (1-0) travel to East Haven on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. game, and take on the Milford Coop team on Friday at 6 at Milford Ice Pavilion.

Wilton played a strong first period, taking a 1-0 lead early when Biegen scored on a wrist shot, off a Koch assist. Newtown, despite being outplayed in the period, managed to make it 1-1 after one period with a late goal.

Newtown picked up its play in the second period and scored to go up 2-1. Peter Koch scored unassisted later in the period to make it 2-2 after two.

Jonsson, a sophomore, put the Warriors up 3-2 midway in the third period off an assist by Biegen — and the Warriors spent the rest of the period trying to hold the lead against nonstop Newtown pressure.

“Newtown really picked it up. They probably outshot us by 10 to 15 shots in the third period,” said Miserendino.

The Nighthawks pulled their goalie with about a minute to go but Wilton was able to hold the fort during a chaotic finish, before Newtown was able to jam a loose puck into the Wilton goal with 16 seconds left.

“We really thought we had it,” said Miserendino, who noted that his players bounced back from the disappointment. “It was frustrating but they did let it get to them.”

Newtown’s talented top line, which had been on the ice down the stretch in the third period, remained on the ice to open the overtime. They kept Wilton pinned in its own zone during the entire first three minutes of overtime but were unable to get the goal past Randolph.

“Being able to hold them off had a lot to do with our defense (Liam Rance, Thomas McHugh, Luke Terradista and Jack DiNanno) and our forwards playing really well. We kept them to the outside, which was huge,” said Miserendino.

The second line of Fung, Caleb Worley and Jack DiNanno helped fend off Newtown during the second shift of the early OT. Then the Warriors were finally able to break out and took advantage when Fung’s centering pass deflected off a skate and into the goal.

Miserendino praised the vocal leadership and strong play of Jack DiNanno, and the contributions from two players off the bench — sophomore forward Connor Drake and defenseman Kevin Fung — that provided the Warriors with the depth they needed to prevail.
— J.B. Cozens