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Third period surge helps Newington co-op beat Tolland/E.O. Smith

The Nor’Easters gather around goalie Jeremy Wagner. Newington won their third straight with a 3-1 win over Tolland/E.O. Smith on Saturday night. (Photo courtesy Newington Hockey Booster Club)

NEWINGTON, Jan. 8, 2021 – In a tight, physical contest, the Newington co-op boys hockey team handed Tolland/E.O. Smith their first loss of the season with a 3-1 victory Saturday night at Newington Arena.

Mike Deegan, Tyler Leavitt and Evan Howard scored for the Nor’Easters while goalie Jeremy Wagner made 10 saves to earn the victory.

Newington (5-1, 2-0 CCC South) won their third straight game and the Nor’Easters have given up only one goal in the last three victories.

The game was tied 0-0 after one period with Bucks’ goalie Cam Sterling turning away nine shots. Sterling, a first line forward for Tolland/E.O. Smith, was pressed into action in goal due to an illness from a teammate.

The game’s tempo increased dramatically in the second period as the game opened up with a more physical style of play. With the Nor’Easter bench called for a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty, the Bucks’ defenseman Sutton Fransen threaded a wrist shot from the point past a screened Wagner to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

Newington responded with an increased sense of urgency peppering Sterling with numerous shots until Newington’s Mike Deegan was able to backhand a rebound of his own shot past Sterling for the 1-1 tie with 1:44 left in the second period.

Newington got a break as the third period began when Tolland/E.O. Smith was hit with a two minute bench misconduct penalty to put the home team on the power play. Although they failed to score on the man advantage, the momentum developed resulted in Newington swarming the opposition net.

Two penalties helped put the Nor’Easters in position to score. Newington’s Kyle Klimas was held resulting with a two-minute holding penalty. Shortly afterward, the visiting Bucks sent a Newington player into the boards, resulting in a five-minute penalty and a two-man advantage for Newington.

Just as the first penalty expired, Newington’s Tyler Leavitt batted home a rebound from Canton defender Niko Giotsas’s blueline blast to give the home team a 2-1 lead.

The Nor’Easters salted the game away five minutes later as Canton High defender Evan Howard ripped a shot past Sterling, after a great pass by fellow defender Braeden Humphrey for the final 3-1 margin. Howard scored for the second straight contest. For Humphrey, it was third assist of the season.

The Newington co-op team consists of players from Newington, Canton, Cromwell, Berlin and Manchester.

For the Bucks, Sterling finished stopping 31 out of 34 shots while Wagner at the other end made 10 saves and dropped his goals against average (GAA) to a sparkling 1.50. Tolland/E.O. Smith slipped to 5-1 overall and 1-1 in the CCC South.

Newington returns to action on Wednesday night when they visit Hall at 7:20 p.m. at Veteran’s Memorial Rink in West Hartford and then travel to Milford on Saturday afternoon for a 5:15 p.m. contest.

Newington co-op 3, Tolland/E.O. Smith 1
At Newington
Tolland/EO Smith (5-1)      0  1  0 — 1
Newington co-op (5-1)        0  1  2 – 3
Goals: Evan Howard (N), Tyler Leavitt (N), Mike Deegan (N), Sutton Fransen (T); Assists: Braeden Humphrey (N), Niko Giotsas (N); Saves: Jeremy Wagner (N) 10, Cam Sterling (T) 31

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 35 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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