Boys hockey: Wilton shocks BBD on Drake's last-second goal

If there were any doubts that there’s something special about this year’s Wilton High boys hockey team, Wednesday night’s win at Danbury Ice Arena should dispel them.

The Warriors remained undefeated in the most dramatic of victories, as Connor Drake scored with less than a second left in overtime for a crazy 6-5 win over the combined Danbury, Bethel and Brookfield team (BBD).

With the win, Wilton improved to 3-0 — after winning only four games all of last season.

“It feels great. Coach has been preaching, trying to turn around Wilton hockey, and I think this is the year we’re doing it,” said Drake, a junior captain. “I think this is the turning point for our season and I’m really excited to see what the rest of the season holds.”

In addition to Drake’s unassisted game winner, Wilton got two goals from freshman Tyler Everitt, while Brandon Jonsson had a goal and two assists. Dean DiNanno and Robert Kelly had one goal each, and Tommy McHugh, John Fung and Luke Terradista each had one assist.

It was a choppy game for the most part but the Warriors managed to build a 4-2 lead early in the third period on a power-play goal, as McHugh’s shot from the point was deflect high into the goal by Everitt.

BBD needed only 43 seconds to answer, when Michael Morlock was able to take the puck right to the goal on a defensive breakdown for Wilton, cutting the lead to 4-3.

The Ice Cats scored again a minute later, with Patryk Fancher knocking a rebound in from right in front to make it 4-4 with 10:42 left to play.

Jonsson put Wilton back up with 3:58 left on a great individual play as he poked the puck ahead into the BBD zone and cut to the goal from the side to power a shot between goalie Stephen Fanning and the post. BBD tied it up again on James McCarthy’s power-play goal with 2:45 left

The Ice Cats had several great chances to pull out the game in the final minutes of regulation, with one shot off the post and two others turned away by goalie Logan Motyka (21 saves), who made a huge stop on a two-one-one break with a minute left.

BBD had the better of the play in the eight-minute overtime, with multiple dangerous plays (and three shots on goal) but either misfired on shots or couldn’t connect on some passes around the Wilton net.

The game appeared headed for a tie with under 10 seconds left, when the puck was cleared to mid-ice by the Warriors. Drake collected the puck and went down along the right boards, crossing the blue line with under four seconds left and angling to the right post to slam a shot past Fanning with 0.3 seconds showing on the clock.

“I had no idea how much time was left on the clock, but I’m really happy about it,” said Drake of the winning goal.

Wilton head coach John Miserendino said the fact that Drake never stopped playing until the very end was indicative of the Warriors’ mindset this season.

“He’s going to play that hard whether there’s five seconds left or eight minutes left. That’s where it comes from,” said Miserendino, who praised his team for fighting hard on a night when things weren’t always clicking.

“We weren’t as sharp as we usually are. They know it. They tried and tried. It was just destined to be a sloppy game. But they all count, so you’ve got to be good when it gets that way, and we were.”

“I think our team has a different type of chemistry this year that we haven’t had the last couple of years,” said Drake. “Just the locker room atmosphere is a lot different and I think the kids on the team are lot closer — and that’s making a huge difference in our game.”

Miserendino noted that Wilton’s schedule will begin to get harder now, and the focus will be more on improvement than on victories — although the Warriors are happy to take as many as they can.

“Wins and losses are what they are. Progress is what we’re looking for, and when you see games like this, progress is there,” he said. “And that’s what we’re happy about. This is a long-term process.”

BBD (3-2-1) finished with a 27-26 edge in shots on goal.

McCarthy had two goals to lead the Ice Cats, with other goals by Fancher, Morlock and Tanner Trew. Colin MacNevin finished with three assists and Tommy Schiesser and Spencer Abrams each had two assists. Morlock, Tom Delafield and Anton Oleshko each added one assist.