HARTFORD, March 9, 2023 – The Newington co-op hockey team scored three goals in less than five minutes to break open Thursday night’s CIAC Division III tournament game and beat Enfield/East Granby/Stafford, 4-1 to advance to the semifinals.
Harrison Ranger had two goals and an assist for the defending state champion Nor’easters, who got 11 saves from goalie Jeremy Wagner to secure the victory.
No. 3 Newington (22-2) will face No. 15 Rocky Hill in Monday night’s semifinal at 5:30 p.m. at Quinnipiac College’s M&T Bank Arena with a chance to return to the state championship final.
Newington played stout defense, got good goaltending from Wagner, sharp special teams play and timely goal scoring to earn the win. The Nor’easters gave up just 12 shots in the game.
Tied at 1-1, Newington took control early in the third period. Canton’s Cole Brandon found teammate Jack Petronio open at center ice. Petronio hit Ranger with a nice pass of his own at the blue line when Ranger pulled away from an Enfield defender and rifled a shot past Enfield goalie Tommy Terhune with just 2:13 gone in the period for a 2-1 lead.
Sixty-seven seconds later, Newington’s Josh Grimm deflected a shot from defenseman Mason Buckley past Terhune to extend the lead to 3-1.
When a penalty was called on the Nor’easters for hooking, Enfield thought they might have a chance to climb back into the game. But Ranger spoiled Enfield’s hopes when he intercepted a pass, skating past an Eagle defender for a one-on-one chance with Terhune.
Ranger faked a shot sending the netminder to the ice and Ranger slid a backhanded shot past Terhune for a short-handed goal and a 4-1 lead with 8:33 remaining in the game.
Newington’s defense led by Evan Howard, Buckley, Nate Thomas and Ben Fialkievicz bottled up any further Enfield scoring attempts while the Newington forecheck led by Ranger, Evan Oliver, Mike Deegan and Andrew Stribling kept the puck in Enfield’s end.
Newington, which is comprised of skaters from Newington, Berlin, Canton, Cromwell and Manchester, took a 1-0 lead on a power play goal from Oliver off assists from Howard and Ranger.
Enfield (14-9) tied the game at 1-1 with 10 minutes left in the second period. Jack Mikan-Jones corralled a loose puck just inside of the Nor’easters’ blue line, avoided two defenders and ripped a shot over Newington goalie Jeremy Wagner’s right shoulder to tie the score at 1-1.
Newington will be looking to return to the state final for the second consecutive year and the sixth time in program history. The Nor’easters will be facing No. 15 Rocky Hill (9-13), who upset No. 2 New Milford, 3-0, in the second round and eliminated No. 7 Tri-Town, 6-1 in the quarterfinals.
Newington already owns two wins over the Terriers this year with victories of 7-2 and 4-0.
In the other semifinal, No. 1 Masuk (19-1-2) is facing No. 4 Conard (19-3). The Division III championship game will be Thursday at Quinnipiac.
Newington co-op 4, Enfield co-op 1
At Hartford (Trinity)
Enfield co-op (14-9) 0 1 0 — 1
Newington co-op (22-2) 1 0 3 — 4
Goals: Harrison Ranger (N) 2, Evan Oliver (N), Josh Grimm (N); Jack Mikan-Jones (En); Assists: Ranger (N), Jack Petronio (N), Cole Brandon (N), Andrew Stribling (N), Evan Howard (N), Quinn Stefanowich (En); Saves: Jeremy Wagner (N) 11, Tommy Terhune (En) 29; Shots: Newington 33-12
Paul Helenski contributed to this story