Hockey pg 1 1-31-19

Hockey team
qualifies for
state tourney
Woodstock Academy coach Kevin Bisson was walking around with a puck in his pocket following the Centaurs 4-2 win over the Redhawks Cooperative Jan. 26 at the Jahn Ice Rink at Pomfret School.
The win raised the Centaurs record to 8-4 (6-1 in the Nutmeg Conference) and qualified them for the CIAC state tournament.
“I have a buddy I have to find here,” Bisson said.
Most assumed he was talking about freshman Devin Chadwick who had scored his first career high school goal.
Bisson said Chadwick already had already received his puck as a memento of that event.
This puck was destined for junior goalie Josh Leavitt.
“I want to make sure the whole team is there,” Bisson said.
Leavitt made his first varsity start in goal for the Centaurs and picked up the victory.
Bisson informed Leavitt Jan. 23 that he would be starting against the Redhawks to allow him some time to mentally prepare.
“I was excited, but at the same time, I was really nervous because my first start was at home in a 7 p.m. game with a pretty big crowd. I was scared to mess up and we would blow the game,” Leavitt said.
It wasn’t picture perfect. The Centaurs gave their teammate an immediate cushion.
Matthew Odom scored his 13th goal of the season on a shot from the point just 24 seconds into the contest.
But the Redhawks answered just over three minutes later.
Just seconds after the Centaurs had seemingly successfully killed a penalty, sophomore forward Steven Turchetta from Montville High School, sent one past Leavitt.
“When that first one went in, I knew I was a little off on my angles when I went shuffling over,” Leavitt said.
The second Turchetta tally came just 1 minute, 18 seconds later, off a rebound from his own shot, to give the visitors a 2-1 lead.
“I should have had that with my glove, but it bounced off the side of it and there was no one there to get it. I should have got there,” Leavitt said.
Fortunately, Leavitt settled down.
“The butterflies went away after the first period, in fact, just after the two goals. I said to myself that this wasn’t going to be easy, I’m going to have to focus, because we were on a two-game losing streak and I think I really stepped it up in the second and third periods,” Leavitt said.
He didn’t allow another one by him.
“He earned this (puck Saturday),” Bisson said while flicking the puck around in his hand. “He had a rough start but the boys around him kept fighting and kept being there to support him and he made the saves we needed him to make.”
Bisson had another motive to giving Leavitt the start.
The Centaurs No. 1 goalie, Dylan Shea, is a senior.
“We’re looking at this year, but also next year. Josh is a junior and the only other goalie we have now is a freshman. We have to develop him and have him ready to step into that role as much as we want to take care of business here and now,” Bisson said.
The Centaurs tied the game up before the end of the first period when Doug Newton slid the puck across the ice to Guerin Favreau who beat Redhawks goalie Spencer Flynn for his sixth goal of the season.
Newton and Favreau had been playing on different lines but Bisson likes the combination of the two on the ice.
“We’re trying to take a little balanced approach to our lineup. We’ve kept Doug at center on one line and Guerin at center on another because it makes sense, but you see the chemistry that Doug and Guerin can have. We knew we wanted to get back to it,” Bisson said.
The two teams battled through a scoreless second period and went into the third tied.
Newton ended that with his 10th goal of the season which came 5 ½ minutes into the final period.
“(Defenseman) Connor Starr took a shot and I was there for it. I got a stick on it. It probably would have gone in any way, but I will take credit for it,” Newton said with a laugh. “It was a great game, great third period for us. It was good to rally back from a tough game.”
The Centaurs had lost to E.O. Smith in the game prior, 5-3, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
In that contest, they also took a 3-2 lead in the third period only to see the Panthers score three unanswered goals.
Bisson wasn’t about to let his team forget about that Monday debacle.
“He was getting on us because we were kind of goofing off after we scored. We shouldn’t. It was a one-goal game that could have changed easily,” Newton said.
“I don’t have short-term memory loss, I remembered all too well exactly what happened,” Bisson said.
The Centaurs got that straightened out pretty quickly and the got the insurance goal against the Redhawks (3-8-1).
Nick Chubbuck found Chadwick on the left side of the net and the freshman poked it home.
“I bring that kid to practice every morning. He is always saying that he couldn’t wait for his first goal so it was a great moment for the whole team, especially him,” Newton said.
The win was key as it qualified the Centaurs for the state tournament and it did come on the heels of that difficult loss to E.O. Smith.
“It was a heartbreaker,” Bisson said of that defeat. “To be winning 3-2 in the third and to have it totally fall apart at the end is one that keeps me up at night. It was a long week in between that game and (the one with the Redhawks).”
The Centaurs forged their way to a one-goal lead early in the third period at a frigid Jahn Ice Rink at the Pomfret School, only to see E.O. Smith score three unanswered goals.
The Centaurs fell behind 1-0 just 2 minutes, 49 seconds into the game when Tyler Harakaly set up in front of the Centaurs net and was able to redirect an Owen Stacey shot past Shea.
“We’ve been preaching net presence all year long. You have to have someone in front of the goalie to take his eyes away and get a shot on net. That’s what they did,” Woodstock Academy assistant coach Bob Donahue said.
It set up a familiar scenario for the Centaurs – playing from behind.
“That’s pretty much the way it has been all year. It would be nice to get the first goal and set the pace,” Donahue said.
The Centaurs answered with 6:55 left in the first period when Odom poked the puck in front of the net and teammate Austen LeDonne was in position to put in his fifth goal of the season.
“That showed a little resilience. The guys came back and didn’t put their heads down, that’s a good thing,” Donahue said.
Woodstock Academy got a little lucky that their second goal was not disallowed when a power failure within the facility caused the game clock to go out. It happened just as defenseman Liam McDermott scored his fourth goal of the season with 9:34 left in the second period.
“Liam has been playing well all year; saw the opportunity to get a jump. I want my defense to be able to do that. Tom Catsam read the play right, covered for Liam. Liam didn’t have an attacking lane but got a good, low, hard slap right into the net. I think even (E.O. Smith goalie Matt Schoen) was surprised,” said Bisson.
That lead held for almost eight minutes until E.O. Smith center Gavin Till slipped one between Shea’s legs for the game-tying goal with 1:44 left in the period. Bisson was more concerned about the defensive lapse that allowed Till to find his way between two Centaurs defenseman than about Shea not being able to get a glove on the shot.
Woodstock Academy went up, 3-2, when Favreau took a pass from McDermott and rifled it in from the point for his fifth goal of the season.
That’s where the good news for the Centaurs ended.
Will Russel tied the game with 11:46 left when Ross Lennon left him the puck on a break.
Till put the Panthers (8-4) ahead to stay on a goal with 5:58 left and he finished off the hat trick and the game, essentially, with an empty net goal with 1:01 to go.
Marc Allard
Sports Information Director
The Woodstock Academy


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