Lots of hockey. Little in the way of practice.
“We had one practice this past week on Thursday. One practice and four games in a row, that’s not the ratio we should be looking at. We should be looking at four practices, one game,” said Woodstock Academy coach Kevin Bisson.
Tell that to Mother Nature. The weather has played a significant role.
After the Centaurs suffered a 6-4 loss to the Eastern Connecticut Eagles Dec. 16 in the season opener for both, snow and ice cancelled practices for the Centaurs Dec. 17 and 18.
Woodstock Academy practiced Dec. 19 and then returned to the ice for a 3-2 overtime win over TriTown in Enfield Dec. 20 before falling to Branford at the Northford Ice Pavilion Dec. 21, 6-3.
“It’s extremely difficult to make adjustments, make corrections, do those teaching points without the physical reps in practice,” Bisson said.
The Centaurs (1-2, 1-1 Nutmeg Conference) got the best of Branford early.
Branford took the lead just three minutes into the game but the Centaurs tied it just about halfway through the opening period on a goal by junior Guerin Favreau off a Doug Newton assist.
Jake Starr put the Centaurs ahead with his first goal of the season with 3:15 left in the opening period but Branford tied it with a power play goal with 1:50 to play.
Woodstock Academy went ahead, 3-2, just before the end of the first period when Favreau put in his sixth goal of the season, unassisted, with 24 seconds left.
“We came out flying, guns blazing, looking good. We were right there and I know we have a strong team and can compete with the best of them,” Bisson said.
Branford won the Div. II state championship last year and in the second and third periods showed why.
The Centaurs sometime bad habits began to haunt them with miscommunication on coverages and penalties became a factor.
Woodstock Academy essentially is relying on six forwards and when the two lines are altered for penalty killing, cohesion can become a problem.
It allowed Branford to score three unanswered goals.
“Honestly, the back-to-back (games) started to catch up to our legs in the third period and when you are relying on six forwards and you start taking penalties, that taxes you even more,” Bisson said.
In addition, the offense went away. The Centaurs scored the three first-period goals on six shots.
“The message in between periods was ‘get into the offensive zone and shoot.’ One out of every two shots went in during the first period. We come out in the second period and took only two shots on net. For a team that scored three goals on six shots, how we don’t put more rubber on the goalie is beyond me,” Bisson said.
It has, however, been the rule more than the exception early.
Both Branford and TriTown took double the shots of the Centaurs in the last two games.
Against TriTown Dec. 20, the Centaurs fell behind in the first period, 2-0.
They rallied in the second on a Favreau goal off a Newton rebound and tied it with 7:26 left when Kyle Brennan scored off assists by Brendan Hill and Devin Chadwick.
It sent the game into overtime where Favreau put the finishing touches on the win 7:04 into the extra period.
With Brennan and Newton jamming in front of the net, Favreau got the puck in the corner and worked his way past a couple TriTown defenders, came around the circle and wristed a shot. The puck rebounded away from the goalie who went down trying to find it, but Brennan was able to indirectly kick it toward Favreau.
It was a typical first game of the season for both the Centaurs and Eastern Connecticut Eagles.
Highly charged and full of infractions.
“The beginning of the game was chaotic for both teams really, probably a bit more on our side because of the penalties being taken,” Bisson said. “Both teams had the extremely high energy of the first game of the season. You can certainly attribute the penalties taken by both teams, in part, to that.”
As a result, the goals came often with the Eagles coming away with a victory over the Centaurs at Dayton Arena on the campus of Connecticut College in New London Dec. 16.
The Centaurs scored on their first shift of the game when Newton got a pass to Nick Chubbuck who sent it along to Favreau. Favreau put the puck into the top corner just 34 seconds into the game.
But the Eagles responded with a goal of their own just a minute later and then went ahead two minutes after that on a power play goal.
Woodstock Academy was then whistled for something it never incurred all of last year, a 5-minute major, just 4:15 into the contest. The Centaurs were also hit with another 5-minute major in the third period, both incidents were for boarding.
Eastern Connecticut took advantage of the first boarding call with another goal to make it 3-1.
Newton brought the Centaurs back within one on a goal off an assist from Hill. The two teams then traded goals in the final two minutes. Newton got his second of the game for Woodstock Academy with 41 seconds left in the first period with assists from both Chris Thibault and Austen LeDonne to make it, 4-3, going into the second period.
Eastern Connecticut scored on the power play and added a second just 1:38 later to build to a 3-goal advantage.
“That just put us too far behind to keep digging out of the hole,” Bisson said. “You can’t shoot yourself in the foot that many times and expect to come out good.”
The Centaurs incurred 30 minutes of penalties in a 45 minute game; the Eagles had 20 minutes’ worth of infractions.
 “For two periods of hockey, we were playing a man down. Both teams were guilty of infractions all over the place, ours were just more poorly timed,” said Bisson.
Favreau finished the scoring with his second goal of the game off a Sonny Neilson assist in the third period.
Marc Allard
Director of Sports Information
The Woodstock Academy


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