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Defending state champion Newington co-op opens season with shutout win

Newington co-op goalie Jeremy Wagner earned his seventh career shutout Wednesday night as the co-op opened the season with a 2-0 win over Conard.

WEST HARTFORD, Dec. 15, 2022 – Eight months ago, Conard and the Newington co-op hockey team last met on the ice at the spectacular People’s United Center on the campus of Quinnipiac College in the CIAC Division III state championship game.

Newington, a five-school co-op program that includes players from Canton, Cromwell, Berlin and Manchester, beat the Red Wolves by two goals to win their third state championship.

On Wednesday night, the two teams met on the ice at Veteran’s Memorial Rink to open the 2022-23 high school season.

The result was similar – another two-goal victory for Newington co-op as the Nor’easters earned a 2-0 decision.

Newington (1-0) got a pair of goals from Andrew Stribling and Harrison Ranger in the third period to secure the win. Newington goalie Jeremy Wagner stopped 24 shots to earn the shutout and secure his 22nd career victory and the seventh shutout of his career.

The game started out as a defensive struggle highlighted by tough, physical play from both sides. Although the Newington squad had a couple of dangerous chances early, the Red Wolves goaltender Blake Ittelson managed to hold off the Nor’Easters with several key saves.

With a little over four minutes left in the first period, successive penalties on Newington co-op gave Conard a 5-on-3 power play advantage. Wagner mirrored Ittelson’s efforts by making several stops to thwart the Red Wolves attack.

The second period opened with more physical play from both teams with the Red Wolves nearly scoring twice on odd-man rushes only to be stopped by more solid play from Wagner.

In the third period, Newington took advantage of a Conard turnover behind the home team’s net  when Kyle Klimas managed to separate the puck from a Red Wolves defenseman and slide a pass out in front of the net to Ranger, who tucked the puck behind Ittelson to give the Nor’Easters a 1-0 lead.

Conard stormed back with a couple of dangerous scoring chances but once again was held at bay by Wagner’s outstanding goaltending.

The Nor’easters were able to add an insurance goal with 2:30 left when Canton’s Gavyn Munson broke up a 2-on-1 Red Wolves attack, deflecting a pass attempt away where teammate Andrew Stribling took advantage of a poor opposition line change, skated the puck into the Conard defensive zone and neatly backhanded a shot over Ittelson’s right pad  and into the net.

Six Canton High players are on the Newington co-op varsity team. Newington co-op plays their first home game of the season on Saturday night when they host the Eastern Connecticut co-op squad at 6:15 p.m. at Newington Arena.

Newington co-op 2, Conard 0
At West Hartford
Newington (1-0)               0  0  2  — 2
Conard (0-1)                       0  0  0  — 0
Goals: Harrison Ranger (N), Andrew Stribling (N); Assist: Kyle Klimas (N); Saves: Jeremy Wagner (N) 24, Blake Ittleson (C) 24

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 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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