Wilton's season ends with state loss to Newtown
After skating to a 3-3 tie during the regular season, the Wilton and Newtown boys hockey teams had to decide a winner when they met again Monday night in a Division III state tournament first-round game.
It was Newtown.
The eight-seeded Nighthawks seized control early en route to a 7-2 triumph over ninth-seed Wilton at the Danbury Ice Arena.
Wilton finished the season with a 9-11-1 record, losing eight of its last nine games. Six of the Warriors' regular-season setbacks were to tough Division I FCIAC opponents
Newtown, meanwhile, advanced to Thursday’s Division III quarterfinals against top-seed Daniel Hand of Madison.
Although the defeat is something the Warriors won’t have a chance to shake off, it is the loss of seniors Dean DiNanno, Nicholas Furst and Brandon Jonsson (who has been sidelined with an injury) that stings the most for coach John Miserendino.
“That’s the worst part,” Miserendino said. “The hardest part is far from losing the game. It’s losing the personnel.”
Newtown's margin of victory Monday was surprising, considering the closeness of the teams' regular-season meeting.
“I thought it was going to be a one-goal game either way,” Newtown coach Paul Esposito said.
“These games happen. You don’t want them to happen, but they do. I don’t think our approach was sharp. We have to start on time, pick our heads up, and play smart,” Miserendino said.
“We tend to bull-in-a-China-shop our way through a game instead of making smart plays. We overthink or we work too hard at the wrong times,” Miserendino added.
Wilton had trouble getting the puck out of its defensive zone, thanks largely to Newtown’s aggressive forecheck. The end result was a 35-26 advantage in shots on goal for the Nighthawks.
That was a turnaround from the regular-season game, in which Wilton outshot Newtown, 34-25, including a 9-2 edge in the scoreless eight-minute overtime.
Newtown had to overcome deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 to force OT in that game. But on Monday night, the Nighthawks jumped in front and the Warriors couldn’t catch up.
After spotting Newtown a 2-0 lead, Wilton headed into the second period trailing just 2-1 thanks to Tommy McHugh's unassisted power-play goal late in the opening period.
Period two belonged to the Nighthawks, however, as Newtown struck for three goals, including two in the first four minutes, to take a 5-1 lead.
With Wilton down 4-1 late in the second, Luke O’Neill, Ryan Sorbo and DiNanno applied heavy pressure for the Warriors but couldn’t capitalize. A penalty late in the shift thwarted the momentum.
Wilton had a good shorthanded chance when Robert Kelly blocked a shot that sprung Tyler Everitt for a pressured breakaway that was turned aside by Newtown goalie Markus Paltauf. Kelly found himself behind the Nighthawk defense moments later but just missed with a shot. Newtown then scored in the final minute of the second period to push its lead to 5-1.
The Warriors had a power play early in the third period but surrendered a shorthanded goal after a turnover at the Newtown blue line.
Everitt scored on a shot that rang off the post and into the Newtown net for an unassisted power-play goal just 24 seconds later, making it 6-2.
But Newtown added a power-play goal of its own late in the period to finish off its 7-2 victory. Seven players — Andrew Gardner, Matthias Paltauf, Aidan Bepko, Jonathan Radatovich, Michael McCann, David Brestovansky and Phil Makris — scored for Newtown.
Wilton goaltenders Logan Motyka and Nicholas Wert combined to make 28 saves.