Boys Ice Hockey
Season comes to close
The season came to a close one day too late for the Woodstock Academy boys ice hockey team.
The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference canceled its postseason winter state tournaments Tuesday due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe.
Unfortunately, the Centaurs had already played and lost their first-round Division II state tournament game to the Lyman Hall/Haddam-Killingworth/Coginchaug cooperative.
Since the last game of the season is the one that seems to remain most relevant in the minds of players and coaches alike, it means the Centaurs have to stew on the loss for a while.
But the ice hockey team had plenty to be proud of especially in the 2019-20 regular season .
The Centaurs will look fondly back on a season that saw them post 15 wins in 20 games.
“I have to be happy,” Woodstock Academy coach Kevin Bisson said of the regular season. “I thought we started out a little rough and then we got it figured out for a long stretch, nine (wins) in a row. The regular season was a success, 15 wins, compared to 12 wins the year before and seven wins before that.”
But Woodstock Academy stumbled in its last regular season game to New Milford, 2-0.
“It was an extremely tight, contested battle and I didn’t feel bad about that loss. It goes on the scoreboard 2-0 (the Green Wave scored into an empty net with 0.2 seconds left) but we’re really looking at a 1-0 game. You can’t be angry about that. I thought our guys played really well,” Bisson said.
But the Centaurs coach was also concerned.
After such a long stretch of wins, a loss – while some may actually welcome it to get the target off the back – can sometimes be detrimental.
It was for the Centaurs.
“It didn’t help the mentality,” Bisson said.
It began an offensive drought that the Centaurs just would not climb out of.
Tri-Town downed the Centaurs 3-0 in the semifinals of the Nutmeg Conference tournament three days later.
The TerrorCats scored a goal 6:05 into the game and then added two more within three minutes of each other in the third to record the win.
It was the third straight year that Tri-Town prevented the Centaurs from reaching the league championship game.
“I thought we had more than enough to take that crown,” Bisson said.
That inability to put the puck in the net followed the Centaurs into the state tournament where the Lyman Hall cooperative skated away with a 5-0 win Monday.
The two teams battled to a first-period scoreless tie with Centaurs leading scorer Guerin Favreau getting two shots on goal that were just turned aside by Lyman Hall goalie Matt Smith.
There were more chances as well as the Centaurs had nine shots on goal.
“(Smith) was leaving rebounds at the door and we didn’t have any guys going to the net,” Woodstock Academy assistant coach Bob Donahue said following the opening period.
The Centaurs continued to get opportunities in the second period.
They outshot the Trojans, 11-5.
Unfortunately, two of Lyman Hall’s shots went in and none of Woodstock Academy’s did.
Aidan Weir scored when a shot rebounded off the glass, came back to the front, and on to Weir’s stick on the right side of the net. He sent the puck over Woodstock Academy goalie Colin Liscomb’s left shoulder to break the 0-0 tie just 1:20 into the second period.
The Trojans went up 2-0 when T.J. Arduini scored his 13th goal of the season with some nifty stickhandling that allowed him to shed the defense and take an unobstructed shot at Liscomb which found the net.
Lyman Hall put it away with three more goals by Weir, Jack Roberts and Matt Pettit, in six minutes in the third period.
The Centaurs were outshot in the final period, 15-4.
“It was pretty shocking when you consider the season we had,” Bisson said of the lack of scoring in the final three games. “Maybe there was a little second guessing that went on there. I’m not totally sure.”
Bisson was confident in the offense prior to the final three games with Nick Chubbuck (4 goals), and Jake Starr putting some pucks in the net down the stretch only to see it all go away.
“The longer it went, the harder it seemed to become,” Bisson said. “You grip the sticks tighter, there were swings and misses and what not. When you are having those droughts, people start trying to do too much on their own. They stop making the passing plays that the line of Kyle (Brennan), Guerin and Doug (Newton) were famous for all year. People got more individually desperate as opposed to team desperate.”
The Centaurs will have to reload in some areas next season.
Defense will not be one of them.
Liscomb will return in goal for his senior year and he will have some capable people in front of him.
Sonny Neilson and Sean McCusker will graduate from the back line but Gabe Geyer, Chris Thibault, Brendan Hill and Alex Wojciechowski all return.
“We’re never happy about losing anyone, but I think our defense has four solid kids there and I’m aware of others that will be coming to the school next year. Brendan and Chris came on strong and Gabe has been rock solid when it comes to what he gives and he does. He has blossomed into a strong leader in the locker room, on the ice and in the weight room,” Bisson said.
The Centaurs will have Favreau, their leading scorer (33 goals, 7 assists), back and Brennan (6 goals, 8 assists) will also return.
But they will have to replace Newton (9 goals, 20 assists), Austen LeDonne (4 goals, 8 assists) and Starr (9 goals, 6 assists).
“There are some questions because we’re graduated three impactful forwards. That certainly puts us in a tough spot,” Bisson said. “Guerin will be a senior and have to step into that leadership role completely. You hope that Kyle takes a jump like Guerin did from sophomore to junior year. Same thing with Nick (Chubbuck). (He had) a little success down the homestretch, what is he going to look like next year?” Bisson said.
Bisson said he hopes the younger guys also take advantage of the opportunity that will be presented to them.
“You have to hope that we also get the batch of new players will also help us again. That’s how high school and college sports work. You get them for four years and you hope and believe that the new ones coming in replace the losses, that it all levels off,” Bisson said.
Woodstock Academy falls in regular season finale
Teams are generally happy about wins.
But there are also times when losses aren’t so bad.
Such was the case on Saturday when Woodstock Academy finished up its boys ice hockey season with a 2-0 loss to New Milford at the Jahn Ice Rink at Pomfret School.
“I tell these guys all the time, and it’s really just coach speak, that you learn more in a loss than you do in a win. The last game we won, I was not happy with a lot of different things and we won 6-3. Here, we lose 2-0, and I’m actually pretty happy,” Woodstock Academy coach Kevin Bisson said.
The loss ended a nine-game winning streak for the Centaurs and means they finish with a 15-5 overall record.
“I’m wicked happy,” senior captain Doug Newton said. “I would rather have taken a loss now than in a couple weeks when we hit States. The nine-game win streak is gone, now it’s time to start a new winning streak. We can’t lose from here on out.”
That’s what time of year it is.
Lose and the tournament is over.
The Centaurs begin tournament play on Tuesday night in Cromwell as they meet Tri-Town in a Nutmeg Conference semifinal game at 7:40 p.m.
Woodstock Academy finished with the second seed in a coin flip with the Eastern Connecticut Eagles. The two teams finished tied atop the conference with identical 6-2 records and split their two meetings.
“The conference is really important to us this year. We want to win at least something and come out with a trophy in hand. Tri-Town on Tuesday is a good opponent. Last year, we beat them twice in the regular season and lost in the semifinal. We don’t want a repeat of that,” Newton said.
The Centaurs got a good warm up for that game on Saturday.
The Green Wave (13-6-1) were a pretty disciplined opponent.
“That’s exactly what I thought this would be. I had a pretty strong feeling that we would be evenly matched and we were,” Bisson said.
The two teams played scoreless hockey for the first 30 minutes with junior Colin Liscomb making 15 saves in net for Woodstock Academy.
The Green Wave were just able to outshoot the Centaurs, 17-15, in the two opening periods.
“They were a clean team,” Newton said. “I enjoyed playing against (New Milford). They weren’t hacking at our legs or anything like that. They give you a fair chance and they converted more than us. That’s all that matters."
There was only one penalty called in the entire game; a cross-check against the Centaurs in the first period.
The Green Wave broke the ice with 8 minutes, 31 seconds left in the game when Cameron Schopher took a rebound off a shot from Ian Donahue and poked it into the net.
New Milford got the insurance goal with point-two seconds left when Jarrett Rivera sent one down the ice that found its way into Woodstock Academy’s open net.
“They were pretty quick, matched up well with us. Do I think we should have won? Absolutely. We didn’t finish our opportunities. They finished theirs,” Newton said.
The Green Wave were also well-schooled.
Much to the disappointment of Newton who found it annoying when the Centaurs top line rarely found itself matched up against New Milford’s second.
It was a little odd since it was the first ever meeting between the two teams,
“For a team that never had played us, it seemed like they had done some level of homework on knowing what to do and what to take away, and definitely matching their line with our line,” Bisson said. “Guess what. That’s what it is going to be now. The games are going to be close. The intensity is going to be high and you have to rise to the occasion.”
The Centaurs first Division II state tournament game will be in a familiar environment.
The Centaurs will host the Lyman Hall/Haddam-Killingworth/Coginchaug cooperative on Monday, March 9 in a CIAC Division II first-round state tournament game at Jahn.
“That’s wicked nice. We haven’t had a (state tournament home game) since my freshman year so to be able to come back home and wear the (home white jerseys) again for sure will be great,” Newton said.
Woodstock Academy downed the Lyman Hall Co-op, 4-0, on Jan. 8.
4 Centaurs honored
Four members of the Woodstock Academy boys ice hockey team were chosen as Nutmeg Conference All-Stars earlier in the week.
Newton (9 goals, 20 assists) and Jake Starr (9 goals, 6 assists) and juniors Guerin Favreau (33 goals, 7 assists) and Liscomb were named All-Conference players.
Centaurs on a 9-game roll going into break
It’s not a bad time for a little break.
But it’s tough for any team to be sitting on the sidelines when it is playing so well.
Such is the case with the Woodstock Academy boys hockey team.
The Centaurs are 15-4 and winners of their last nine games following a 6-3 win over Housatonic on Monday.
Their final regular season game against New Milford was moved from this Saturday to Feb. 29.
It means just about two weeks of down time.
At least for the seniors.
Many of the juniors, sophomores and freshmen will likely be playing in some junior varsity contests this week.
“All those guys will still be on the ice and next week, we will have three days of practice and focus on some of the things we still have to do. We’re just going to try and keep the legs going, fine tune what we can, and be ready for that final season game,” Woodstock Academy coach Kevin Bisson said.
Woodstock Academy junior goalie Colin Liscomb said, despite the win streak, not everything is perfect.
“I think we have to figure out the penalty situation, that’s a big, bad thing for us. We’ve been struggling a bit on break outs, but other than that, things are going smoothly,” Liscomb said.
Penalties were a bit of a problem for the Centaurs especially late in the game against the Housatonic Regional Cooperative.
“It’s hard to be too happy (about the win),” Bisson said. “I think we got pretty lucky at the end of the day. We were playing a certain way, everything was looking good, everybody was doing the right thing and then we just completely stopped and sunk to the level of the opponent. They were taking all these unsportsmanlike and technical and we just started to become that. It’s aggravating to think that, we haven’t been that, haven’t been that for a long time and, all of a sudden, here we are back in that mode.”
In the final 1 minute, 43 seconds of the game, three Centaurs were sent to the penalty box for various reasons.
The Mountaineers (4-11-1), down by two goals at the time, tried to take advantage by pulling their goalie to create a 6-on-3 situation.
“It happens a lot. I’ve seen it a lot because we get a lot of penalties but I think we have kind of improved on it,” Liscomb said.
Even with their top defensemen in the penalty box, the Centaurs failed to yield a goal.
“Colin did a good job of making the saves that we needed down the stretch. Good on that especially for a kid who had been away the whole weekend (on a school-sponsored trip) and hadn’t skated since the Tuesday before. He came up with the saves that we needed at that moment because that game could have ended, probably should have ended, a lot different than it did,” Bisson said.
The Centaurs handed Housatonic a 3-1 loss on their home ice back on Jan. 20.
But they found themselves down early to the Mountaineers.
Housatonic scored 6 ½ minutes into the game.
But the Centaurs didn’t take long to respond.
Jake Starr, off a pass from Austen LeDonne, found Nick Chubbuck streaking down the middle of the ice. He delivered the pass and Chubbuck followed with the game-tying goal 30 seconds after the Mountaineers had scored.
“I know what (Chubbuck) is capable of and I know he feels like he should have put a few more in the net this year, but he’s been playing really well. It’s nice to see him have a little confidence and get rewarded for it,” Bisson said.
Kyle Brennan put the Centaurs up a goal 2:10 later and Woodstock Academy enjoyed a 3-1 lead when Chubbuck scored for a second time and fourth of the season with 1:38 to play.
But Housatonic came back to tie the game with a pair of second period goals.
“We got away from what we were doing best which was moving the puck,” Woodstock Academy assistant coach Bob Donahue said of the second-period turnaround. “We started running around and playing their game. It’s not what we need right now. They got us off our game and we started to try and do too many things individually. We told the guys to pass the puck.”
The strategy was sound.
The Centaurs forged their way back into the lead with a goal from Guerin Favreau with 12:18 to play.
“In the first period, Doug (Newton) and I were working it around a lot and it was working pretty good. I got an assist on Kyle’s goal. It didn’t really happen in the second, but we found it again in the third and I think that’s what opened up the shooting lane,” Favreau said.
Jake Starr added an unassisted insurance goal with 4:39 left before Favreau found the empty net as the buzzer sounded to account for the final.
It was Favreau’s 33rd goal of the season.
“It feels pretty good. I had a good amount freshman and sophomore year but seeing all it all come together this season has been really fun,” Favreau said.
The season as a whole could be classified that way.
“I think we’ve really come together as a team. We’ve bonded and we have figured out what each other’s tendencies are and have worked with it,” Liscomb said.
Woodstock Academy gets 2nd straight over Yellowjackets
The Woodstock Academy boys hockey team had never beaten East Haven before this season.
Last week, the Centaurs downed the Yellowjackets twice.
Woodstock Academy kept its winning streak alive and extended it to eight straight games with a pair of victories over the East Haven Cooperative program.
The Centaurs downed the Yellowjackets on their home ice Tuesday, 3-1, and followed that up with a 4-2 victory at the Jahn Ice Rink at the Pomfret School Saturday.
“That was a big win there,” Woodstock Academy coach Kevin Bisson said after the Saturday win.
The Centaurs (14-4) are fighting for a CIAC Division II state tournament home game.
“East Haven is a Division II opponent and we have Housatonic and New Milford left, those are both Division III opponents, so those points are going to be important but we are restricted in how many we get (against Div. III teams). When we can take a Div. II (win) and get those extra points, it’s critical to keep our momentum going. We had a little back-and-forth at the beginning of the year. We have certainly found our consistency and we’re trying to make the strong push to the end,” Bisson added.
The Centaurs jumped in front of the Yellowjackets in the first period Saturday.
Nick Chubbuck scored his second goal of the season 9 minutes, 42 seconds into the contest off assists from Jake Starr and Austen LeDonne.
“Nick has had a tough year scoring. He knows it. We all know it, ut he’s really been trying so to see him get the first one and get the momentum on our side was huge,” Starr said.
The Centaurs got a little breathing room in the second period when sophomore defenseman Brendan Hill, with help from Guerin Favreau and Doug Newton, scored his fifth goal of the season.
“Brendan has had that breakout year,” Bisson said. “He was good last year, too, but as a freshman when you are still learning to play with those other bigger bodies – he’s a big body, himself, and plays that style of game – but its’ getting that understanding of when you can go and when you shouldn’t. We use him in every phase of the game.”
Bisson was also happy with the play of another sophomore, Kyle Brennan, on Saturday.
“He was just a man on a mission,” Bisson said with a smile. “He was all over the ice, taking away opponent’s chances, back checking, fore checking, playing the body, shooting pucks, going hard to the front. Those are two young guys (with Hill) that we’re certainly going to rely on for years to come.”
Favreau put the Centaurs up, 3-0, with his 30th goal of the season with 9:38 to play in the second period.
But Woodstock Academy got caught a little flat-footed to start the third.
East Haven scored just nine seconds into the period and then added another with 6:34 to play to make it close.
“We just weren’t ready for the puck to be dropped,” Bisson said. “That gave them a little juice and they were pushing from there.”
Fortunately, senior Josh Lavitt was up to the task in goal for the Centaurs where he made 22 saves in relief of starter Colin Liscomb who was out on a school trip.
“I think Josh came up big time in the net, made some big saves and he went home with the game puck. He deserved it,” Bisson said.
Favreau finished off the win when he scored off an assist from Hill into an empty net with 12 seconds to play.
The win also came on Senior Night for the Centaurs.
The team celebrated the dedication of seven players in their last year in a Woodstock Academy uniform; Newton, Starr, Anthony Girard, LeDonne, Sean McCusker, Sonny Neilsen and Lavitt.
“It was good. I think we’ve won every Senior Night (that he has played in). Coming in, we wanted to keep that streak going. I remember going through it all four years and watching my friends graduate and go through this and now, it’s really special doing it myself especially with some of my best friends,” Starr said.
The Centaurs also jumped out on top early against East Haven in their first meeting of the week.
Favreau, off a feed from senior Newton, poked one into the East Haven net just 2 minutes, 14 seconds into the game.
But this would hardly be a high-scoring game as the score remained 1-0 through the remainder of the first period and the entire second period as well.
"No one ever feels comfortable with a one-goal lead and the longer it stayed that way, the more the tension kind of rose," Bisson said.
East Haven tied the game up just 2:50 into the third period on a Corey Benni power-play goal.
The Centaurs weren't fazed.
They kept attacking.
"There were a lot of chances that we just didn't captialize on," Bisson said.
A case in point was the first line of Favreau, Newton and Brennan forging a good chance, but Brennan's shot clanged off the crossbar on a redirect.
Newton later had a breakaway and tried to confuse East Haven keeper Logan Hamilton with a little forehand, backhand activity but Hamilton came up big with the save.
"Their goalie played pretty well. He's a captain which is something rare in itself," Bisson said.
Plus, the Centaurs were not getting bodies on the net and thus, shots off rebounds were pretty much non-existent.
Fortunately for Woodstock Academy, Favreau didn't need one with 5 1/2 minutes to play.
The forward came down the left side, shot across his body, went glove side and snuck it past Hamilton.
"We're lucky he does score and not unrealistic to think that he would, but it was another scenario where we're taking a shot from a distance, with no bodies on the net. Luckily, it got through," Bisson said.
Newton then added some insurance in the final seconds with a goal into an empty net.
Starr said the Centaurs just want to keep the win streak going.
“We’re (ranked) fourth in the State (in Div. II) and we just want to keep this going because we’re only in there by a couple of points. We just want to make sure that we’re going to get a home playoff game. That would be huge,” the senior said.
Newton gets 100th;Neilsen scores in Centaurs win
It was a pretty busy weekend for Woodstock Academy senior Doug Newton.
It was also a very satisfying one.
The senior boys hockey player is a member of the Model UN at the Academy and that group was in Boston over the weekend.
But he also had commitments at home in Woodstock as the Centaurs had a pair of games over the weekend.
So, he and teammate Guerin Favreau did a little commuting back-and-forth and figured out a way to participate in both.
It made for a pretty memorable weekend especially with what happened on the ice.
Newton scored his 100th career point and assisted on his younger brother, Andrew’s, first career varsity goal as the Centaurs downed the Northeastern Shamrocks on Saturday, 5-1, and the Eastern Connecticut Eagles, 5-4, on Sunday at the Jahn Ice Rink at the Pomfret School.
The one hundred career points in hockey, according to Woodstock Academy coach Kevin Bisson, is comparable to getting 1000 points in a high school basketball career.
“If you want to look at those milestone moments, it would certainly equate. The beauty of the 100 points is that you don’t necessarily have to be the one scoring, but you have to find people who will put the puck in the net. While Doug has certainly had his fair share of big goals, he has also been a playmaker, setting up goals. It’s one of the great things about hockey. You don’t only get rewarded and noticed if you score, you actually get rewarded for making great plays,” Bisson said.
Newton’s milestone moment came on Sunday.
The Centaurs had already built a 2-0 lead over the Eagles on a goal from Kyle Brennan off the rebound of a shot by Nick Chubbuck and a breakaway by Favreau, both in the first period.
The Centaurs made it 3-0 with 6 minutes, 43 seconds left in the second period when, while shorthanded, Newton began a rush out of the defensive zone and found Favreau open near center ice.
Favreau deked his way past a defender, skated in front of the net, and backhanded the puck past goalie Rylin Fowler.
“Usually, I look to see what the goalie has been doing and the five hole (between the legs of the goalie) had been working against this kid,” Favreau said.
Newton was awarded the assist on the play for his 100th career point.
“It was awesome,” Newton said of the moment. “It should have come earlier. I will be honest, I wish it came earlier, maybe earlier this year or late last year. I’m happy to get it and now it’s back to work on Tuesday, playing hockey and trying to get as far as we can.”
It turned out Woodstock Academy needed that three-goal lead.
While the Centaurs were dominant offensively and Colin Liscomb had a good night in net, the hosts (12-4, 5-2 Nutmeg Conference) were also struggling just to keep their players on the ice.
Woodstock Academy was whistled for 10 penalties, Eastern Connecticut was guilty of only two infractions.
It meant the Centaurs had less than a minute in power-play opportunities, the Eagles had over 16 minutes of man-advantage situations.
“We made it more interesting than it should have been,” Bisson said. “They shouldn’t have had the opportunities that they did. It was one of the things that we talked about coming into this game that you can’t ever be comfortable. You just can’t. You are not guaranteed a win over anybody.”
The Eagles scored the next two goals following the Favreau tally to cut the deficit to one.
But the Centaurs responded when Jake Starr, off assists from Sonny Nielsen and Gabe Geyer, made it a 4-2 game with 12:21 left to play.
Woodstock Academy then got a goal from an unexpected source- Nielsen.
The senior defenseman had never put one into the back of the net in his high school career until Sunday.
He rifled a shot in with 6:13 to play and it turned out to be the game winner.
The Eagles scored at the 4:18 mark to make it a two-goal game again and with 18 seconds left added another to account for the one-goal differential.
“This game had a lot of implications. It keeps us moving in the right direction. It jumps us into first in the Nutmeg Conference and then it just exorcised some of those demons. That’s a good team over there. Just because they have had a few losses doesn’t mean they are not good, clearly they are,” Bisson said.
It was the first victory for Bisson over the Eagles (6-8, 4-2) in his brief coaching tenure.
It followed on the heels of the win over the Shamrocks the night before.
It was a harder fought game than originally anticipated.
The Centaurs had beaten Northeastern on its home ice by six goals, but the two teams were locked in a scoreless tie after the first period.
Woodstock Academy was pounding the net early, but nothing went in.
“Their goalie was making a lot of good saves. Our guys were doing a lot of good stuff, a lot of zone time, a lot of offense. You kind of knew we would break through at some point,” Bisson said.
That point came in the second period.
Sophomore Brendan Hill broke the ice 5:55 into the second period with an unassisted goal and Favreau, who already has 27 goals this season, added another unassisted goal 4 ½ minutes later.
The Centaurs made it 3-0 when Favreau took a pass from Alex Wojciechowski with 2:10 left in the period.
It allowed Bisson to experiment a little and the Woodstock Academy coach took advantage.
“We were able to get some kids in that would normally not be able to in a closer game. A couple of freshman who hadn’t seen any varsity time were able to get in there,” Bisson said.
And for both, it was a memorable moment.
On Andrew Newton’s first varsity shift, he took a pass from his brother, Doug, who recorded his 99th career point when Andrew Newton put the puck in the back of the net.
“I would take giving my brother an assist on his first varsity goal any day over getting my 100th point,” Doug Newton said. “I feel so good for him. He’s just getting his feet wet at the varsity level. First shift, first touch of the puck, it’s a goal – awesome. It’s kind of story like for me.”
Andrew Newton wasn’t the only freshman to experience the thrill.
Tyler Green followed up in the third period with his first varsity goal.
The Centaurs opened the week with a come-from-behind, 5-3, win over the Burrillville (R.I.) Broncos.
Burrillville jumped out to a 3-1 lead before Doug Newton pulled the Centaurs back within one and Hill added a power-play goal a little less than five minutes into the final period to tie the game.
Brennan scored what proved to be the game-winner with six minutes left and Favreau added some late insurance, an empty net goal at the buzzer.
“It’s a good number, a good place to be,” Bisson said of the 12-4 record. “I’ve been breaking the year down into five-game increments. We started 2-3, switched it to a 4-1, just went on a 5-0 stretch and when you look at the smaller segments, we have to be very happy. The boys are going in a good direction right now and are just fighting to get a higher playoff seeding and maybe a home game in the first round.”
Centaurs enjoy undefeated week
The Woodstock Academy boys hockey team completed a spotless week with a victory over Tri-Town, 3-2, on Military Appreciation night at the Jahn Ice Rink at Pomfret School on Saturday.
The victory in the Nutmeg Conference game raised the Centaurs record to 4-2 in the conference and 9-4 overall.
Junior Guerin Favreau scored all three goals for the Centaurs.
His first was a shorthanded goal halfway through the first period.
His second came off the stick of Doug Newton.
It was the 97th point of Newton's career with the Centaurs.
After a scoreless second period, Favreau put his 21st of the season into the net in the third period for the hat trick.
It gave the Centaurs a 3-0 lead and it turned out that the Centaurs would need all of those tallies as the Knights (3-7-2) rallied for two goals late in the third period.
The Centaurs had a mixed bag of results earlier in the week.
They had to fight hard for a win in Auburn and then coasted through a game with North Branford.
Woodstock Academy sophomore defender Brendan Hill was hit pretty hard in a game against Auburn, MA. earlier in the week and there was some concern about his availability for the boys hockey contest Thursday versus North Branford.
Hill not only played, but also had a big contribution in the 7-1 Centaurs victory over the Thunderbirds at the Northford Ice Pavilion.
“The training staff held him out of practice which was smart and they evaluated him on Thursday before we left for the game. He passed and was inserted back into the lineup,” Woodstock Academy coach Kevin Bisson said.
Hill scored his first two goals of the season for Woodstock Academy.
He got his first with 1:50 left in the first period and then added a second, a power-play goal, with 4:48 left in the second period.
“It’s not even the two goals, it was a number of defensive plays, the number of good break out passes – he just had a complete game,” Bisson said.
It was a breakout game, offensively, for the Centaurs as a whole.
Kyle Brennan added a goal and three assists while Favreau and Newton each had a goal and two assists.
Jake Starr and Nick Chubbuck also scored for Woodstock Academy.
“It was definitely nice to get the offensive side going again. A couple of guys who kind of needed to get one in the net. It had been awhile for Kyle, the goals have been a little harder to come by this season. He’s been very productive and the line is producing but I’m sure he wants that little confidence boost. Same thing with Nick Chubbuck. He’s been having a really strong season, playing a really good offensive and defensive game, but hadn’t found the back of the net until (the North Branford) game,” Bisson said.
It took a little adjustment on the part of the boys hockey team in its game with Auburn on Tuesday.
The Rockets home ice is a little different than what the Centaurs are used to.
“The rink itself is very small, definitely different than anything these kids have ever played on in a normal season for Woodstock Academy,” Bisson said.
Being of Massachusetts origin, Bisson knew what his team was walking into as he has played and coached at Auburn on many occasions.
“The small rink means that body contact is much more prevalent. There is just not as much space to maneuver. That was the message between periods,” Bisson said.
It was effective.
The Centaurs came up with a pair of second half goals and downed the Rockets in a non-league game, 2-1.
The small ice surface helped Woodstock Academy score what proved to be the game winner.
Senior Austen LeDonne bodied up on an Auburn defender and kept the puck in the offensive end, immediately shoveling it to Starr.
Starr, from a tough angle, put it into the top shelf from the short side for his sixth goal of the season with 4:07 left in the second period.
Newton scored the first goal for the Centaurs just 2:06 into the second period off assists from Brennan and Favreau.
The Centaurs had experimented the game before, an 8-1 loss to Branford, with splitting up their top line.
The experiment was quickly shelved.
“We decided to put that line back together and when we did that, Jake goes back to putting the puck in the net and so does the other line. We got the balanced scoring going again which was great. Guerin is starting to put some points up in the assist column and all three of them were playing well together,” Bisson said.
Auburn did tie the game with 7:03 left in the second period, setting up Starr’s game winner.
The Centaurs also had to kill a hooking penalty which gave the Rockets the power play for the final 1:57 of the game.
“We still would like to see more (scoring), 2-1 is still a really tight game and I definitely think we had more offensive opportunities than just the two that went in,” Bisson said.
Bisson has split the season up into five game mini series.
At first, it wasn't so pleasant.
“Looking at the record now, I feel a little better,” Bisson said. “We break the season down into five-game increments and we were 2-3 in the first five and 4-1 in the second. While that one loss (8-1 to Branford) was really tough to stomach, it still was a 4-1 stretch and now, we're 3-0 in this one. We have to be pretty happy with that.”
Centaurs have mixed results in return from 10-day break
It was nice to just get back on the ice for the Woodstock Academy boys hockey team.
The Centaurs had over a week off before they got on the bus and made the 2 ½ hour ride to Falls Village and handed the Housatonic Regional/Northwestern Regional/Wamogo Regional/Torrington cooperative a 3-1 loss in a matinee game on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The Centaurs then played their first home game since Dec. 28 on Saturday.
The results were not what they had hoped as Woodstock Academy fell to Branford, the defending Division II state champion, 8-1, at the Jahn Ice Rink in Pomfret.
Woodstock Academy coach Kevin Bisson was just happy to finally play a game which ended an unexpected vacation from the ice.
The Centaurs were supposed to play the East Haven Co-Op on Jan. 15 and a Nutmeg Conference foe, the Eastern Connecticut Eagles, on Jan. 18.
Neither game took place.
The game with East Haven was postponed when too many of the Yellowjackets came down with the flu.
The game was rescheduled to Tuesday, Feb. 11.
The game with the Eagles became a victim of the weather as several inches of snow forced the postponement of the game until Sunday, Feb. 9.
The time off took its toll.
“When you look at how much you’re skating and then not skating, when you have a game and then don’t have a game and finally we do have a game against Housatonic. It took a little while to get going,” Bisson said.
In addition to the rust, there was also the bus ride and a few other factors to contend with in the game with the Housatonic cooperative.
“It’s always a tricky one,” Bisson said. “It’s a long day and that makes it harder to get the focus. Plus, the physical venue is different.”
In addition to the set-up of the facility, there was little in the way of crowd noise.
The long ride reduced the Centaurs followers to just a few diehards and Housatonic didn’t provide much in the way of fan support either on a Monday afternoon.
“The overall volume of the game was very mild. It was hard to find that energy level. We had to manufacture it on our own,” Bisson said.
The first period ended in a scoreless tie.
In addition to the bus ride, the lack of fans, the funky venue, there was an additional factor the Centaurs had to deal with.
Woodstock Academy and Housatonic were whistled for two apiece in the first period.
The Centaurs were hit with three more in the second period while the Mountaineers had two.
“I thought it was a well-officiated game. The penalties were warranted, but you think you have a power play and no sooner than it begins and we take a tripping penalty. Now, it’s 4-on-4 and then it became 4-on-3. There was a lot of movement, shifting and line jumbling because of kids being in and out of the (penalty) box,” Bisson said.
Successive shifts by the Centaurs first line produced what Woodstock Academy needed; the lead.
Junior Guerin Favreau finally broke the ice 6:05 into the second period with a goal.
The first line left the ice briefly and when it returned, Doug Newton followed just 55 seconds after Favreau’s goal with his fifth tally of the season.
“It was definitely good, certainly needed, especially at that time of the game when you’re wondering where is this going to go; what are we going to have to do the rest of the way if this is how it continues?” Bisson said. “It was good to get a little buffer to work with.”
The Centaurs (3-2 Nutmeg Conference) sat on the 2-0 lead until Favreau added some insurance just 1:59 into the third with his second goal of the game and 17th of the year.
Tyler Calhoun scored the only goal for the Mountaineers with 11 seconds left in the contest.
The win was nice considering the Centaurs were away from home for nine hours.
“It makes it that much better that we came away with those two points from that extremely long day especially considering how much we invested in that game physically,” Bisson said.
The Centaurs had four days to prepare for the Hornets.
It didn’t help.
Branford scored its first goal just 3:57 into Saturday’s game when Blake Kustro found the net off an assist from Will Linder.
The Centaurs (6-4) then got what most thought would be an advantage.
A slash against the Hornets left them a man down.
Branford responded with three shorthanded goals, from Jack Manware, Daniel Faricielli and Matt Morgan over the next 46 seconds to go up, 4-0.
Morgan then added another goal 38 seconds after his first when the teams were at even strength to put Branford (10-1-1) up, 5-0.
The Hornets added two more goals in the second and another in the third.
The only goal for Woodstock Academy came with 1:30 left when Alex Wojciechowski scored his first career varsity goal off an assist from Chris Thibault.
Woodstock Academy has good week on the ice
When Woodstock Academy junior Guerin Favreau rifled a laser beam into the top corner above the blocker of Suffield/Granby/Windsor Lock’s goalie Cam Begley with 1 minute, 18 seconds left in regulation, Kevin Bisson was pretty confident.
“It was the straw that broke the back. You could tell their will was broken,” the Woodstock Academy boys hockey coach said.
Bisson was right.
Just 45 seconds into overtime, Jake Starr scored the game-winner to give Woodstock Academy a 3-2 win Friday over the Tigers at the Enfield Twin Rinks.
It completed a nice week for the Centaurs who also blanked the Lyman Hall/Coginchaug/Haddam-Killingworth cooperative earlier in the week, 4-0.
“We’re on a three-game win streak, it’s great,” Bisson said. “Three games with three goals against is really good. Colin (Liscomb) has been in goal for the last two and Josh (Lavitt) was in there for the 7-1 win (over Northeastern). We’re getting the goaltending, which I always felt good about it, but we’re also starting to get the defensive structure and support which is something that we’ve really put a major focus on.”
The two wins raised the Centaurs record to 5-3 overall and 2-2 in the Nutmeg Conference.
The SGWL cooperative took the early lead on the Centaurs Friday.
Aiden Grabowski scored with 4:12 left in the opening period on a 5-on-3 power play.
The Tigers followed with a second goal just a little over five minutes later off the stick of Remington Ferrari just 1:44 into the second period.
It held up and the Tigers took a two-goal lead into the third.
But Bisson was happy about one aspect of the game up to that point.
“Every game this season, we had been out shot by the opponent, in every single period and in every single game. That’s not to say, we weren’t getting maybe more scoring opportunities. We aren’t just throwing everything at the net and seeing what might get through so, sometimes, you have to look beyond the numbers. But, we out shot (Suffield) in the first and second periods and there is no question that we out shot them in the third. The vast majority of the third period was spent in Suffield’s end,” Bisson said.
It had to pay off sooner or later.
And it did.
Favreau halved the Suffield lead 4:51 into the final period.
Begley lost his stick and it got shuffled to behind the net.
Senior captain Doug Newton got on to the puck, flipped it to Favreau and the junior hammered it past a stick-less Begley.
Favreau then set the stage for Starr’s heroics when he beat Begley again with 1:18 left.
It was Favreau’s 15th goal of the season.
“They had the 2-0 lead going into the third period and we just kept pumping in the opportunities. I think the overtime was inevitable but it was the work all game long, pushing not backing down, that made it possible,” Bisson said.
The Centaurs didn’t start the overtime with their top line.
With Kyle Brennan out of the lineup due to illness, Newton and Favreau were joined by Austen LeDonne on the first line.
Bisson rode the trio through much of the game and they were pretty well spent going into the extra period.
That meant Starr, Devin Chadwick and Nick Chubbuck took the first shift.
It was all the Centaurs needed.
The defense got the puck out of the Centaurs end and fed it to Chadwick who got it to Starr. Just as a line shift was about to occur, Starr made a play, cut across the middle, and fed the puck low to Begley’s blocker side, the puck found the back of the net.
“I’m really happy for Jake. I’ve been pushing him pretty hard because I know he has a lot to give us and he wasn’t overly thrilled with how his season went last year. He was injured last year, got it addressed and this year, he’s healthy, a senior, playing with real passion and leading by example,” Bisson said.
It was Starr’s fifth goal of the season.
The Centaurs traveled to the Northford Ice Pavilion on Wednesday and scored not only the first goal, but the second and third as well all within the first eight minutes of the first period.
And then, the Centaurs protected that early advantage.
It resulted in the shutout win over the Lyman Hall cooperative program.
"Lyman Hall pushed back against us. They did their job to stop us from scoring after we got that quick burst but we also did as good job on the defensive side of things," Bisson said.
Prior to the game, Bisson broke down some numbers for his team.
Among members of the Nutmeg Conference, the Centaurs were No. 1 in goals scored.
They were also dead last in goals against.
"Those two things do not equal success," Bisson said.
The offense has been there for the Centaurs and Bisson expects that to be the case for the remainder of the season.
It's the defense that has been a big question mark.
"We have to keep that going as we move forward," Bisson said. "As we get into these track meets, these run-and-gun games, where we score and then, they score. That back-and-forth doesn't equal success for us. The play on the defensive side is what we've been hammering into these guys."
The Centaurs got a strong effort in the net from Colin Liscomb against Lyman Hall, but also limited their opponents scoring opportunities.
On the offensive side, Woodstock Academy had only five shots on goal in the first period but made three of them.
Favreau scored his 13th goal of the season just 3 minutes, 22 seconds into the game off assists from Newton and Brennan.
Newton tallied just about four minutes later on a power play goal and followed that up with his fourth goal of the season, off a second assist from Brennan, with 7:08 left in the first period to give Woodstock Academy the 3-0 lead.
"He's a captain, a senior. He's a kid who is putting in a lot of minutes on the penalty kill, 5-on-5 and power play and I need him to continue to justify those minutes. It was definitely good to see him put a couple in the net. He's been producing point-wise, but he's still a work in progress, just like everyone is. We're always asking more from him. I think he knows and accepts that," Bisson said of Newton.
The game calmed down after that with the two teams skating even through the remainder of the first period, the entire second and most of the third, scoreless.
LeDonne broke the ice with a goal into an empty net with 44 seconds left to account for the final.
Favreau's 5 leads Centaurs to easy win
The second period has been the nemesis for the Woodstock Academy boys hockey team.
So much so that in the first five games, the Centaurs had not gone into the third period with the lead this season.
That, fortunately, changed in the only game of the New Year’s week on Monday against the Northeastern Shamrocks.
The Centaurs rolled into the third period with a four-goal advantage and posted a 7-1 win at the Bolton Ice Palace,
It brought Woodstock Academy back to the break-even mark of 3-3.
“You evaluate every game, but you kind of compartmentalize and after five games, a quarter of the season, it really wasn’t looking good,” Centaurs coach Kevin Bisson said. “Inconsistent, undisciplined play, just not where we wanted to be when you look at the big picture. Looking at the opponents in those first five games, it was also a nice mix. It wasn’t like we played five No. 1 teams or five at the bottom, it was a good mix. It gave us a full picture of what we looked like and it wasn’t good.”
The second five got off to a much better start with the win over Northeastern (0-3).
The Centaurs got off to a good start against the Shamrocks.
Junior Guerin Favreau scored the first goal of the game, 6:08 into the opening period off an assist from Zack Girard.
Jake Starr followed five minutes later with his fourth goal in the last four games, taking a pass from Doug Newton, the first of his three assists, and putting into the net with 3:44 left in the period.
The good start was made even better by the defense which held Northeastern scoreless in the opening period, something the Centaurs have also had troubles with this season.
“I told the kids, we can say we’ve had good starts, but please don’t think that’s true. In the first game of the season, we scored on our first shift and then, the (Eastern Connecticut) Eagles score on the second shift. That’s not a good start. We scored on the first shift against (Suffield), it didn’t matter much in the end result,” Bisson said.
The good times continued to open the second when Favreau made it 3-0 just 1 minute, 7 seconds after the break ended when Newton beat the Northeastern defense, pulled the goalie to the post and Favreau set up on the other. Newton got it to his linemate for the one-timer into the back of the net.
Northeastern followed just a minute later with a goal of its own, but Favreau reestablished the three-goal lead and netted himself a hat trick with another goal off a Newton assist with 9:11 left in the period.
The Centaurs went up 5-1 when Austen LeDonne, off an assist from Nick Chubbuck, scored his third goal of the season.
Woodstock Academy had more motivation than just a win going into the third period.
The game was physical with Girard getting knocked out of the game in the first period and freshman Mike Burns went down in the second.
“I think the Burns injury was a huge motivator for us. We talk about discipline and composure with this group being a little bit of a problem, which has been clear. We talked between periods about not being out for physical revenge. We’re not trying to send people to the hospital. We are going to go out and play as a team and we will have the end result that we can point to as our response. We did it on the scoreboard,” Bisson said.
The Centaurs finished things off with a pair of Favreau goals, both coming in the final two minutes of the contest.
His five-goal effort put Favreau, who had only one goal in the last two games, back on his two goals per game pace.
The alternate captain of the team now has 12 goals on the season.
“It’s sometimes fair, sometimes not, but we expect him to score. That’s the bottom line. That’s the expectation we have for him. Sometimes, that is a lot of pressure knowing that’s what people are looking for from you. We expect a lot of him in all phases of the game and to see him get the reward for his hard work is great,” Bisson said.
Newton had a game himself.
He added three more assists bringing his total to nine this season.
“The biggest knock on Doug’s game for the last three years has been, ‘the kid doesn’t pass.’ That’s not true. If you look at his stats from last year (13 assists), he passes. He has been looking to make plays and (Monday), he looked to make multiple plays,” Bisson said.
For the Centaurs, it was the first of four straight games on the road.
“That might not be a bad thing considering how we’ve played at home,” Bisson said.
The Centaurs will not return to the Jahn Ice Rink in Pomfret until Jan. 18.
They also don’t have another game until next Wednesday, Jan. 8, when they play the Lyman Hall Co-Op.
“I was looking at the calendar and didn’t realize we don’t have a game Saturday and I was joking with my coaches about what we were going to do with two practices this week and then I said, ‘Hold it, we have four practices before the next game.’ We have to go back to film, really break it down, look at the things we need to improve upon and take that time over the next four practices to really focus in on those,” Bisson said. “It will be fun. It’s kind of crazy to say practice will be fun but we’re going to make the most of it.”
Penalties thwart Centaurs on Saturday
The Woodstock Academy boys hockey team has been skating on thin ice lately.
Undisciplined play has been the bane of the team thus far this season and it came to a head on Saturday.
The Centaurs were whistled for 20 minutes of penalties, all but two minutes coming in the second and third periods.
As a result, the Centaurs lost a 5-3 game to the Suffield-Granby-Windsor Locks cooperative team at the Jahn Ice Rink in Pomfret to drop to 2-3 on the season and 1-2 in the Nutmeg Conference.
The same issue hounded Woodstock Academy earlier in the week when it just pulled out a 3-2 win over Auburn, MA.
Woodstock Academy coach Kevin Bisson was not happy between the second and third periods of the Centaurs hockey game with Auburn.
His team was incurring needless penalties and not getting shots on goal.
And his words then, could just have well been spoken following the loss to the Wildcats on Saturday.
“It’s infuriating,” Bisson said. “They need to be better, bottom line, every single guy in my lineup needs to be better. We’re giving them way too many opportunities, turning the puck over left and right in our end and our defensive structure is not where it’s more than capable of being.”
It didn’t cost them against the Rockets.
It did against the Wildcats.
The Centaurs, as has also been their trademark this season, came out in the first period quickly.
Just 17 seconds into the game, Jake Starr got a pass from Doug Newton and ripped it over the right shoulder of Suffield goalie Cam Begley for his third goal of the season.
But the Centaurs were whistled for high-sticking and just six seconds into the power play, Ryan Corrigan scored his first career goal for the Wildcats to tie the game.
Guerin Favreau answered with his team-leading seventh goal of the season when he tucked a rebound off a shot by Newton into the net with 3:03 left in the period.
But the Wildcats took the momentum into the locker room when Tyler Gadzik smoothed one inside the right post with 54 seconds left.
The Centaurs have not been a good second period team this year.
That was not going to change against Suffield.
Just 2:13 into the period, Tyler MacKowski broke the 2-2 tie as he scored when the Centaurs turned over the puck near their own goal line.
Woodstock Academy started a steady flow to the penalty box shortly after the goal.
A roughing call left the Centaurs a man down and 16 seconds after the call, Adam Grabowski tallied for the Wildcats.
Brandon Severns would also score with 2:10 left in the period to give Suffield a three-goal lead.
Austen LeDonne scored his second goal of the season with nine seconds to keep the Centaurs within range, but five penalties against the Centaurs in the final period ended their hopes.
The same issues were there on Monday.
Against Auburn, however, the Centaurs and Rockets were tied going into the third period and the Centaurs were able to turn things around.
Sophomore Kyle Brennan got the game winner just 2:34 into the third period when Sonny Neilson sent the puck in from the point and Brennan was in the right place at the right time.
“I was in front screening the goalie when I saw Sonny shoot it. I tipped it in and we won the home opener,” Brennan said.
Goalie Colin Liscomb made sure the goal stood up as the junior turned in 31 saves.
“There were a lot of battles in front of the net, but thought we handled it and came together as a team in the third period,” Liscomb said.
The Centaurs, just like Saturday, started off well.
LeDonne put in his first goal of the season when he took a slick past from Starr and slipped it into the Auburn net 6:40 into the game.
Auburn tied it when defenseman Matt Shirm took a pass on the right point from Caleb Bartlett on the left point and had an alley to fire it past Liscomb with just 1:05 left in the opening period.
But Woodstock Academy tied it when Starr knocked down a deflection and got it on to his stick, getting the goal with two seconds remaining in the period to put the Centaurs up 2-1.
“He’s been a man on a mission, leading by example. Whether he has a ‘C’ or an ‘A’ on his jersey (significant of captain and assistant captain) means nothing, but if you go out and lead, you’re a leader. That’s what matters. I thought he led (Monday). That first goal was his effort coming down with the puck, seeing Austen and feeding it to him and the second goal, he saw an opportunity, made a good move, put the puck on the net and got a good result,” Bisson said.
Auburn (1-1-1) tied the game in the second period on a goal by Dominic DiPadua before the Brennan goal sent the Centaurs home happy for Christmas.
They will need a win over the Northeastern cooperative team Monday for the same to be said prior to the New Year holiday.
Centaurs have busy 1st week
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,” Woodstock Academy coach Kevin Bisson said.
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 last Monday in the season opener for both, snow and ice cancelled practices for the Centaurs on both Tuesday and Wednesday.
Woodstock Academy practiced Thursday and then returned to the ice for a 3-2 overtime win over TriTown in Enfield on Friday before falling to Branford at the Northford Ice Pavilion Saturday, 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 Division 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 on Friday, 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 popped right to Guerin’s forehand and he had a big, wide open, empty net and he just put it in for the win. Guerin kind of started and finished it, but without his two teammates, being major factors in front, we don’t get a goal. They don’t get an assist on the scoresheet, but they more than factored into the end result,” Bisson said.
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 last Monday.
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.
“I can’t say either team settled into a nice rhythm in the game with the back-and-forth that was going on. We regrouped a little between periods but we came out and took another penalty,” Bisson said.
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.
2019-20 Boys Hockey preview: Centaurs looking to raise the bar
It's the second year for Woodstock Academy boys hockey head coach Kevin Bisson.
That always makes things a little easier.
“Just having an understanding of who the kids are, who already fits well together and what their strengths and weaknesses are. It’s changed the way I approach everything,” Bisson said.
And while there may be a feeling of comfort in those regards, it also means raising the bar for himself and for his players.
The Centaurs finished 12-7-2 on the ice last season, 7-2-1 in the Nutmeg Conference.
A good year by any standards.
But Bisson and his team couldn’t help but feel that it could have been even better.
They finished the season with a 0-3-2 record in their last five games.
That included first-round losses in both the Nutmeg Conference tournament and the Division II state tournament.
“The very end of the season didn’t finish the way we wanted,” Bisson said.
Lineup adjustments caused by school events and other factors conspired against the Centaurs.
“It was a disappointing finish in that I thought we had a very strong team last year that certainly could have gone beyond one game in the postseason,” Bisson said.
Of course, they also played the eventual Division II state champion, Branford, in that first round of the state tournament.
It’s a new season.
And, as always in high school, it’s a new team.
Among the graduation losses was team captain, defenseman Liam McDermott.
“Liam was a leader by example at all times. He had a great presence on and off the ice,” Bisson said.
Also gone is leading goal scorer Matt Odom (19 goals), fellow forwards Mason Stewart, Tom Catsam and Owen Borski, defensive players Connor Starr and Ethan Thorpe and goalie Dylan Shea.
The loss of Shea means the Centaurs come into the season without an experienced goalie.
Senior Josh Lavitt started one game in the net.
He returns along with junior Colin Liscomb.
“They’re having a healthy competition right now and, hopefully, they push each other and at the end, make each other better. Our schedule is a little different than last year where there were days between games and it stayed fairly spread out,” Bisson said.
The first week of the season has Woodstock Academy with a scrimmage on Saturday, the season opener at the Eastern Connecticut Eagles on Monday at Connecticut College and games next Friday and Saturday, the 20th and 21st.
“It’s unrealistic to think one goalie can play all those games,” Bisson said. “The true hope is that we have two strong goalies.”
The offense will be led by the return of a line that stays together from last season.
Senior Doug Newton, junior Guerin Favreau and sophomore Kyle Brennan will start as the top line for the Centaurs.
Newton was the leading scorer for the Centaurs last season, getting 17 goals and 13 assists for 30 points.
“Matt is a big loss, but hopefully, goal scoring leadership can come from guys like Guerin, Kyle, Austen LeDonne, and Jake Starr, who step up in big ways and get the job done just as well as Matt did,” Newton said.
Newton is coming off an ankle injury that he suffered playing soccer at the end of the summer and caused him to miss his senior year of soccer at The Academy.
Staying off that ankle, however, paid off for hockey.
“It’s feeling a lot better. I feel comfortable on the ice. There is no pain in my ankle anymore and since the skate isolates it so much, there is really no movement in it, it feels great. It feels like it did a year ago,” Newton said.
Bisson agreed losing Odom hurts the team, but he’s confident in Brennan (7 goals, 3 assists) and Favreau (8 goals, 6 assists).
“Kyle had a breakout year as a freshman. I know he’s put in the work in the offseason and has come back bigger, stronger and faster. You have to hope the dedication off the ice translates to results on the ice and Guerin is the same scenario. He’s been relentless in the weight room. You have to think that he, Kyle and Doug will complement each other and get the results on the scoreboard,” Bisson said.
LeDonne finished with 15 points last season, getting nine goals and six assists while Starr had two goals and seven assists. Other players up front this season will include senior Anthony Girard and sophomores Devin Chadwick, Nick Chubbuck, and Zach Girard.
Those skating behind the blue line include seniors Sean McCusker and Sonny Neilson, junior Alex Wojciechowski, and sophomores Chris Thibault, Brendan Hill, and Gabe Geyer.
None of them were starters with McDermott and Connor Starr getting that honor and Thorpe being first off the bench.
“We lost a lot of guys back there but, hopefully, a couple of the young guys step up and provide leadership for us,” Newton said.
Bisson agreed it will be difficult to replace the minutes that last year’s seniors provided.
‘Sean and Sonny, stepping into senior roles, they will have a lot of responsibility upon them. Chris and Brendan, who did get some starts and contributed on the power play and penalty kill need to show growth and maturity level to their game because they will be asked to step in and perform at the next level,” the Woodstock Academy coach said.
There is little time to put everything together and that time was made a bit shorter last week.
A double-barreled winter storm on Monday and Tuesday cancelled the first two days of practice.
The Centaurs will find out quickly what they are made of.
Their first game will be against the Eastern Connecticut Eagles, who now represent the entire Eastern Connecticut Conference with the exception of Woodstock Academy, and a couple of Shoreline Conference schools.
The Norwich Free Academy-based Redhawks program disbanded due to lack of numbers following last season and those schools that comprised that program can now play for the Eagles.
An unfair advantage?
“There has been a lot of different talk and back-and-forth on that whole thing,” Bisson admitted. “It’s a challenge that we accept wholeheartedly because we want to play the best and if they were able to get the best of all these different places, then great. They were given a 1-year allowance. I would predict moving forward that there will be a division of where all these different schools will have to go and not just go to the Eagles like they currently are.”
Following that, the Centaurs travel to Tri-Town, whom they lost to in last year’s Nutmeg semis, for an 8:10 p.m. game on Dec. 20 and then have a 5:30 p.m. game at Branford on Dec. 21.
“I’m extremely excited,” Newton said. “I’ve been waiting for this all year after losing in the first round of States. This season is huge for us; good-looking team, great offense, so, hopefully we can go further and it will be a fun year.”
And, hopefully, even more successful than last year.
“To look at the final record and to think about the successful year that we had, it’s very frustrating when you see the final numbers, the season as a whole was much better. I’ve told players countless times that I have high expectations for the program as a whole. I know they feel the same way about each other and themselves so we’re looking for a stronger regular season and a stronger postseason,” Bisson said.