SOUTH WINDSOR, Feb. 15, 2023 – In a few weeks, the Newington co-op hockey team will be defending their state championship in the CIAC Division III tournament.
On Wednesday, the Nor’easters were challenged by a South Windsor squad that has already secured a spot in the CIAC Division II tournament. Newington co-op was up to the challenge as goalie Jeremy Wagner made 14 saves to earn his fourth shutout of the season as the Nor’easters beat South Windsor, 2-0, at Newington Arena.
Andrew Stribling and Harrison Ranger had goals for Newington, which improved to 15-2 on the season.
The Nor’easters, who include players from Newington, Canton, Cromwell, Berlin and Manchester, came out ready to match the Bobcats physical play. Newington took a 1-0 lead when Ranger batted home a rebound off a shot from Evan Oliver.
Newington’s David Andrews, a freshman from Canton had taken an errant Bobcat pass just inside the Newington defensive zone and passed the puck up to Oliver, who skated over the Bobcats’ blueline and took a sharp angle shot that visiting goaltender Jason Sigler (24 saves) briefly bobbled. An alert Ranger was right there to poke in the puck.
In the second period, Newington took a penalty but a stout penalty kill unit headed by Mike Deegan, Canton’s Mason Buckley and Gavyn Munson blunted several Bobcat attempts.
The Nor’Easters went on their own power play 12 seconds later but were unable to convert the opportunity with Sigler making several big stops. The Newington power play unit again had two more opportunities later in the period but again failed to capitalize.
South Windsor (9-7) came out strong in the third period but Wagner was firm in net, helped by defenders Munson, Evan Howard and Ben Fialkievicz.
Leading 1-0, Newington was called for slashing with 6:53 remaining in the game. With 14 seconds left on the two-minute penalty, Howard, another Canton skater, gathered a loose puck below the Newington goal line and sent a high flipped pass into the neutral zone where teammate Josh Grimm picked up the pass and skated into the Bobcats’ zone.
Instead of shooting the puck, Grimm found linemate Andrew Stribling alone at the top of the faceoff circles with a soft pass. Stribling’s hard slap shot tucked into the net just off the crossbar to give the Nor’easters a short-handed goal and a 2-0 lead.
Newington co-op returns to play when they face the Rocky Hill co-op team on Saturday at the Champion’s Skating Center in Cromwell in a CCC South contest.
The Nor’easters (15-2, 11-1 CCC South) have a one-game lead on Conard (14-2, 10-2) in the race for the league championship with two league games remaining. Newington can clinch at least a share of the title with a win over Rocky Hill.
Newington co-op 2, South Windsor 0
South Windsor (9-7) 0 0 0 — 0
Newington co-op (15-2) 1 0 1 — 2
Goals: Andrew Stribling (N), Harrison Ranger (N); Assists: Josh Grimm (N), Evan Howard (N), Evan Oliver (N), David Andrews (N); Saves: Jeremy Wagner (N) 14, Jason Sigler (SW) 24
Paul Helenski contributed to this report