NEW HAVEN, March 15 – The Farmington Valley co-op ice hockey team will take on defending CIAC Division II champion Guilford on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. for the state championship at Yale University’s historic Ingalls Rink.
The Generals (18-3-1), the co-op made up primarily of players from Farmington and Avon, will be looking for their first championship as a co-op. Guilford (19-3) is seeking to win their second straight Division II title and their fourth in school history.
Both are high-scoring programs. The Generals scored 115 goals in the regular season while the Indians scored 118. Farmington Valley has scored 30 goals in five postseason contests including the CCC South tournament while Guilford has 19 goals in five postseason games.
“They’re an explosive team,” Guilford coach Ralph Russo said of the Generals. “They can score a lot of goals. Obviously, we need to protect the puck, play good defense and execute plays on offense. We need to play with some high energy.”
Senior forward Tim Arena has scored nine goals in the postseason including a hat trick in a 7-1 win over South Windsor and a 4-1 semifinal win over Conard. Owen Lacourciere (Lewis Mills) has scored seven goals including a hat trick in a 6-0 Southern Connecticut Conference Tournament semifinal win over Simsbury. Kyle Kadziolka have scored five goals each in the Division II tournament.
Avon’s Trevor Paluso has picked up three wins in goal during the state tournament and made 13 saves in net in the Generals’ 4-1 win over Conard in the Division II semifinals. He had 12 saves in the 7-1 win over South Windsor in the quarterfinals.
Guilford’s top scorers are All-State forward Jack Ring with nearly 90 points this season and Jake Watrous with around 80 points, Russo said. Forward John DeLucia was the SCC Division II player of the year. Ring had two goals in Guilford’s 3-2 win over Watertown/Pomperaug in the Division II semifinals along with one goal each in tournament victories over E.O. Smith/Tolland and Glastonbury.
In net for Guilford will be senior Mete Yanbul, who plays forward on the Guilford boys soccer team in the fall. Yanbul was the MVP of the SCC Division II tournament with 25 saves in the 3-2 win over Watertown/Pomperaug in the championship game. Guilford has won their last 12 consecutive games.
Avon has been a co-op team with Farmington and Windsor since 2012. Mills joined the Generals co-op three years ago and has three players on the roster. Windsor has one.
Avon has never played for a state championship in hockey. From 1999 through 2008, Avon and St. Paul had a co-op team. Avon’s 2011 team that was a co-op team with Windsor and East Granby did advance to the Division III semifinals.
As a stand-alone team, Farmington won its only state title in boys hockey in 2005 with a 5-4 double OT win over Trumbull in the Division II final.