Lyons & Titans roar louder than Tigers
NORTHFORD — The first full week of the shortest month on the calendar has proven to be every bit strange for Sheehan’s hockey team.
The Titans gave up their midweek fight against Farmington Valley 3-0 – their first shutout loss of the season – in a non-conference game that included all three penalties.
They followed that up with a 6-4 victory over Daniel Hand on Saturday night in an SCC/SWC Division II game in which 15 total penalties were issued, including one on each head coach.
“We kind of scratched and clawed our way to this win,” Sheehan head coach Dave Festa said. “It showed a lot of strength from our team to dig deep and realize we had to shake it up a bit and then get into the game.
“It was a bit difficult to get into the rhythm of the game with so many penalties and so many inconsistencies in calls. It was very confusing.
Landon Cantele and Andry Guy were able to find their groove for Sheehan. Each scored twice in a game that saw 10 total pucks find the back of the net.
Brenden Hilinkski and Anthony DeFilio scored the other two goals as Sheehan improved to 12-3. Goaltender Justin Lyon did what he could to keep the pucks out front, stopping 17 of Hand’s 21 shots on net.
Even with six power-play opportunities for the Tigers, Lyon roared louder.
“Keep calm,” said the junior goaltender of the opposition’s power plays. “Obviously you’re going to be nervous, but you can’t think about it too much. Let the butterflies be energy.
Lyon’s energy was on display throughout the game, particularly in the final moments of the second half, when the situation continually evolved as the whistles increased.
“I was really happy with the way he played,” Festa said of Lyon. “To kind of step up in that situation and be that stability at the back was good. The children played well in front of him.
Lyon were tested early. Each team earned a penalty before a power play goal was scored. It turns out that the first score fell shorthanded.
Max Festa was in the box for an interference call when Cantele scored his first. He managed to catch the puck from a turnover in the neutral zone by the Tigers and entered with only the goaltender to beat. Guy was credited with an assist on the game.
Still on the power play, the Tigers fought back at 9:00 when Anthony Albino scored his first of three goals.
The Tigers got another in the closing seconds of the period when Kevin Rich made it 2-1.
“[Hand] I wanted the game and we had to pass the test,” said coach Festa.
The Titans did just that in the second period, where they outscored the Tigers 3-1.
Hilinski scored his goal near the blue line in the opening minutes of the period to tie the game at 2. In the next minute, Cantele scored his second out of a group near the crease, with Guy getting his second assist.
Festa said it was a point of attention after Wednesday’s loss to work in those “dirty areas” – in the corners and near the net – to score goals. Saturday paid off.
“We just worked on it in training,” Festa said. “You just have to shoot the puck; just getting hits on the net. Create opportunities and things will happen.
Hand tied the score at 3-3, but only after the officials met to confirm the score. Lyon had made the save on play, but were in the net and behind the goal line when he did. After initially ruling there was no goal, the referee team overturned the appeal.
In the closing minutes of the second period, Hand’s Rich was called for a five-minute major on illegal head contact and was disqualified from the game – the first of two such cases for the Tigers – and the Titans in took advantage. Guy caught a pass from Hilinski in the slot and scored the power play with 10 seconds left on the clock.
“We took advantage of those five minutes and a few [other] occasions, which was good,” Festa said. “We had to, emotionally, make sure we converted to these.”
The nature of the penalty allowed Sheehan’s advantage to carry over into the third period, but Hilinski was called for a trip, so each team opened the third period against a skater.
The Tigers took advantage, tying the game at 4-4 in the first two minutes of the period.
But the five-minute major penalty was still in effect, and when Sheehan pulled up a skater, Max Festa found Guy with a hot hand, and he landed his second score of the night to give Sheehan a lead he didn’t. wouldn’t give up.
“You couldn’t script this game today,” Festa said. “Just too many interruptions, not really good fluidity in the game.”
When the five-minute major expired, Max Festa found Anthony DeFilio in net for an insurance score from close range.
The chances of a hand return dimmed further when the Tigers won a five-minute major second and a game disqualification after Marcus Padula disposed of Sheehan’s Aiden Koenig near center ice. Koenig reportedly just bruised his knee after the game, but he stayed on the ice for a few minutes.
“Happy to have the W today,” Festa said once the final buzzer sounded. “The only time I felt comfortable was when it was 12:00 a.m..”
The Titans have a well-deserved week away from the ice. They will train, but won’t play another game until next Saturday night’s showdown with Lyman Hall (12-2), who also won on Saturday. The Titans lost the first rivalry game 5-4 on January 8 and have not forgotten.
“I hope we can get in [with a] better mindset, higher intensity and put them to sleep,” Lyon said of the upcoming rematch.