Fortunately for the Wilton High boys hockey team, there are no more Senior Night games this year.
After dropping their own Senior Night contest to Masuk last Monday, the Warriors ended the regular season with losses to Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe and Northeastern in those teams' Senior Night games.
As a result, Wilton's record fell below .500 (9-10-1), and the Warriors will not get home ice for the first round of the Division III state tournament, which starts next week.
A long trip to the Bolton Ice Palace outside of Hartford last Friday felt even lengthier on the ride home as Wilton lost to host Northeastern, 5-2, in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Following a scoreless opening period, the Warriors took a 1-0 lead. Buoyed by the recent returns of defenseman Nick Furst and forward Robert Kelly, Wilton drew first blood on Tyler Everitt's goal at 12:21 of the second period. Nico Kouvaris and Kevin Fung assisted on the play.
But two minutes later, Northeastern's Eric Slater picked up a loose puck in the Warrior defensive zone and blasted a slap shot into the net to tie the score.
A questionable tripping penalty against Wilton led to a power-play goal by Jack Terrance (on assists from Tyler Cascario and Joe Chatterton) that put Northeastern ahead, 2-1. The Shamrocks then topped off their hustling play by scoring a third straight goal — this one by Noah Fleming, assisted by Slater — to take a 3-1 lead through two periods.
Northeastern (6-13-1) upped its margin to 4-1 less than two minutes into the third period. Kiyan Pourmaleki got the goal, poking in the puck from the middle of a goalmouth scrum with the aid of both Terrance and Fleming.
Fleming then scored in a similar manner at the 10:29 mark to put the Shamrocks in front, 5-1. Slater and Pourmaleki had assists on the goal.
Wilton finally broke the string of five unanswered Northeastern goals when Dean DiNanno lit the lamp on assists from David Overbeeke and Ryan Sorbo with 9:50 to play.
But the Warriors were unable to get any closer as the Northeast co-op (comprised of players from Rockville, Coventry, Bolton, and RHAM) skated off the ice with a 5-2 victory.
One day earlier, Wilton just didn’t have the depth to go toe-to-toe with the Division I Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe combined team, losing by a score of 7-2 at the Wonderland of Ice in Bridgeport.
The Mustangs (11-8-1) scored three unanswered goals in the first period, then added a fourth in the second period to open a 4-0 lead.
Nick Wert came in to play goalie halfway through the second period for the Warriors and his teammates seemed to respond. Fairfield did not score again in the period, while Overbeeke breathed some life into the Wilton offense with a goal on a feed from DiNanno at 5:11.
But the third period belonged to the Mustangs, as they found the back of the net three more times. DiNanno got the other Wilton goal on assists from Overbeeke and Everitt with 9:10 remaining.
Rhys Davies and Kyle Mazza had particularly outstanding games for Fairfield, with Davies racking up a pair of goals and two assists and Mazza adding a goal and three assists.
Wilton head coach John Miserendino knows his team needs to play smarter if it is to do well in the post-season.
“On defense we’re just making wrong decisions when we’re getting the puck out of our end of the ice,” Miserendino said. “We’ve got a week to get ready and to work on some things that really need to change if we’re going to play as well as we can.”