Boys Ice Hockey Division III Championship
Woodstock Academy 7, Hall-Southington 3
By Mike Madera
Special to CIACsports.com
NEW HAVEN – Woodstock Academy had never won a state title in its four years heading into the postseason. Senior Nathan DeLuca made sure the Centaurs did not go home without the championship hardware this time around.
Behind three goals and an assist fron DeLuca, including a short-handed tally in the decisive third period, top-seeded Woodstock Academy defeated No. 6 Hall-Southington in the Division III finals at Yale University’s Ingalls Rink Saturday morning.
“We proved what kind of team we are,” DeLuca said. “We took off from there. We knew we had to get the next one. We had the momentum there. The group we have here is unbelievable.”
DeLuca’s efforts proved crucial to the Centaurs’ title hopes as Hall-Southington had stormed back from a 3-1 deficit to score twice in nine seconds to even the game at three just nine seconds into the third. The tying goal by Jeremy Fortin came after Jacob Mohr had drawn Hall-Southington within a goal as time expired in the second.
“The wheels just came off,” Hall-Southington coach Brian Cannon said. “I thought maybe we would get the momentum here and go.”
With Woodstock Academy killing the game’s only penalty, DeLuca scooped up a loose puck and cruised in on Hall-Southington goalie Zachary Monti, before burying a short-handed goal with 8:54 remaining in the game for a 4-3 lead.
“Nathan and Jake (Starr) had a two-on-none short-handed chance,” Woodstock Academy coach Mike Starr said. “I think their goalie started to cheat over and left Nate an opening to shoot at.”
The goal by DeLuca seemed to take the air out of Hall-Southington and fire up the Centaurs as they added three more goals in the period, all within a span of 1:17.
Avery Riva, who finished with two goals and an assist, increased the lead to 5-3 with a one-timer in front off an assist from Ryan Black with 4:25 to go, and DeLuca completed his hat trick 26 seconds later for a 6-3 advantage. Just 51 seconds later, William Liscomb capped the scoring for the Centaurs.
“We lost in the semifinals last year,” Starr said. “We were determined not to let that happen again.”
The second period saw the Centaurs take control early, only to see the Warriors stir the excitement late as they scored as time expired in the period to draw within a goal after two periods of play.
Leading 1-0, Woodstock Academy increased the lead to two goals just 2:31 into the middle period when Black’s initial shot was turned aside by Monti, but Riva was there to knock in the rebound.
The two-goal lead for the Centaurs lasted just 2:14 as Hall-Southington found a way to quickly get back in the game when Fortin set up Mohr, who put the puck on net from a sharp angle to get the Warriors within 2-1.
The top-seeded Centaurs continued to mount the pressure in the period and the hard work of DeLuca paid off. After being stopped by Monti on a breakaway, DeLuca followed a short time later by spinning around and firing a shot to the corner of the net for a 3-1 advantage.
That lead looked as if it would hold up through two periods of play, but Hall-Southington had other ideas. After a brilliant play by Miles Aronow to keep the play going, Mohr’s shot from in close beat Woodstock Academy goaltender Caleb Wilcox as time expired in the second period, getting Hall-Southington within 3-2, and setting up a dramatic third period.
After a start which saw the Warriors control the opening minutes of the game, Woodstock Academy made its move in the final eight minutes of the opening period. Finishing with 14 shots in the opening period, the hard work for the Centaurs paid off in the final seconds.
Picking up a loose puck, sophomore Riva started a two-on-one break with Black, who finished with a goal and two assists. Drawing the defense to his side, Avery fed a perfect pass to Black on the right wing and Black fired a shot past Monti with 3.8 seconds left in the opening period to give Woodstock Academy a 1-0 advantage.
The opening period saw quality scoring chances from both teams, but Hall-Southington could not convert as Dustin Kilgore’s shot rang off the post just 1:30 in, and another quality scoring chance by the Warriors was turned away by an alert Ryan Wojciechowski, who cleared the crease behind Wilcox a short time later.
Monti finished with 25 saves in the loss for Hall-Southington, while Wilcox made 29 saves in the win.