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Week 4: Long trip pays dividends

The good times continued for the Woodstock Academy boys hockey team over the weekend.

The team made the long trek out to Northwest Connecticut to the South Kent School for a Nutmeg Conference game against the Housatonic Regional Co-Op on Saturday.

The Centaurs brought back another shutout victory as they blanked the Mountaineers 10-0.

The win improved Woodstock Academy’s record to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the Conference.

The first line of Noah Sampson, Donnie Sousa and Maxx Corradi did much of the damage on the road as they combined for eight of the 10 goals.

The long bus ride clearly was not a hinderance as Sampson, as is his wont, scored just 46 seconds into the contest off assists from his two linemates.

Sousa followed just 2 ½ minutes later with a goal of his own with help from Sampson and Keegan Covello, who had his first three assists of the season.

Sampson finished off the first period tallies with an unassisted effort with 6:46 left to play.

Sampson would add another goal in the second period and would assist on another Sousa goal in the third to give the junior 14 goals and 11 assists on the season.

Sousa had a breakout game as he doubled the number of goals he has scored this season with four against the Mountaineers, two coming in a four-goal third period.

Corradi added a goal and three assists while Jared Nielsen added a pair of tallies.

The Centaurs spent their New Year’s holiday on the ice at the Jahn Ice Rink at Pomfret School and, for a change, were challenged a bit by their opponents from Rhode Island, Burrillville.

The Broncos had just reduced Woodstock Academy's lead to just one goal with 9 minutes, 33 seconds left in regulation.

But 31 seconds later, Sampson got to the puck on the side of the Broncos net.

It looked, at first, as though Burrillville goalie Devlin Mansolf was able to cover it to both those around watching the game and even those on the ice, including Sampson.

It was not the case.

"I didn't know it went in, honestly. I had picked it up behind the net, a wrap-around goal and it was good to get it," Sampson said with a smile.

It provided all the insurance the Centaurs would need and they would add another later to leave with the 5-2 win over Burrillville..

"The target is getting bigger," Woodstock Academy coach Mark Smolak acknowledged after the Burrillville game about the team’s continued winning ways. "This was a huge game for us, nine points in the standings. That's what we wanted, to secure these nine points."

The Centaurs didn't waste any time getting on the board against the Broncos (4-5).

Sampson scored just 21 seconds into the game.

"(Maxx) Corradi picked up the puck in the corner and I was in front- they were leaving us open in front all game- Maxx dished it out in front and I just tapped it into the five-hole,” the junior center described.

Just 1 minute, 16 seconds later, the Centaurs would tally again.

Sampson gained possession of the puck behind the net, sent it back into the front where Corradi was coming in unmarked and the winger beat Mansolf to the right to give Woodstock Academy a 2-0 advantage.

But Burrillville was quick to answer.

The Broncos, missing five of their top players, four to injury, cut the deficit in half when Patrick Poisson scored his second goal of the season just 42 seconds after Corradi scored.

As things often do in games, things settled down after that as both goalies settled in and did not allow another goal in the first period.

Woodstock Academy re-established the two-goal advantage when a Burrillville defender lost control of the puck right in front of the net.

Sousa was in the right place at the right time as he found himself in front of the net, one-on-one against Mansolf.

All Sousa had to do was get his stick on it.

He did so with the back hand and put it in the back of the net for his fourth goal of the season.

The goal was even nicer as it came when the Centaurs were playing shorthanded.

"Any time you see (Sampson and Sousa) on the defensive end on penalty kill, you know you're going to have a chance to get a shorthanded goal. Donnie and Noah, their chemistry together on the PK, is magic," Smolak said.

The Broncos did get back within one on a tally by Ryan Frenette.

"When they scored, my message to the guys was that, 'Look, we're not done here. Look, they got one. We still have the lead, let's get it back,'" Smolak said.

Sampson did just that.

"It was anti-climactic because no one knew it went in," Smolak said with a laugh.

The Centaurs finished things off when freshman defensive player Jack Larkin sent one in from the point that just found its way over Mansolf's left shoulder.

It was his first career goal and was assisted by his brother, Max Larkin.

"We executed the plan that we wanted to coming into the game; to be able to maintain possession of the puck, dominate in the neutral, offensive and defensive zones, was really positive to see. We were making smart plays with the puck," Smolak said.