The Kent Lions will be returning to Connecticut as the NE Prep Large School Division Champions. The Lions took down the Cushing Penguins with a final score of 2 – 1. Alex Contey (Nutley, NJ) stood tall in net to help lead Kent to its victory.
All was quiet at Sullivan Arena during the fist period of play. Both Cushing and Kent were able to move the puck offensively but the score was tied at zero. The first period was used by both teams to feel out one another and figure out the style of play.
Throughout the second period both teams were physical as both Cushing and Kent have big bodies on the ice. Each team had multiple scoring opportunities but played remained even at zero. With two penalties from Cushing, Kent was put in a 5 on 3 position with 14:30 left in the period but still could not find the back of the net. Aidan Cobb, (Ridgefield, CT) Alex Laferriere (Chatham, NJ) and Michael Posma (Pomona, NY) were able to keep pressure on Cushing as the first line for Kent. For Cushing, Jake Hewitt (Ashburnham, MA) and Jacob Banks (Westminster, MA) made their presence known on the ice, being some of the most active players.
The third period is where Kent was able to take a lead with offensive zone time and overall control of the game. Action started for Kent when Cushing took a penalty with 11:23 left in the game. The Lions were able to capitalize on the power play from a backhand pass from Dane Dowiak (Pittsburgh, PA) to Jason Kleinhans (New York, NY) who was able to shoot the puck to Aidan Cobb (Ridgefiled, CT) for the tip-in score with 10:27 left in the game.
Thirteen seconds later Kent was able to find the back of the net again. The initial shot taken from Ian Pierce (Edgewater, NJ) was stopped by Joe Sharib (Natick, MA – Union) but wound out in front of the net for Alex Giummo (Essex Junction, VT) to bury at 10:14 left in the game.
Play remained in favor of the Lions until Cushing was able to get on the board with 6:56 left in the game during a 4 on 4 situation. Brad Zona (Auburn, MA) flew up ice where he was able to get a quick shot off his stick. Goalie Alex Contey was able to make the original save but Nick Cafarelli (Middleton, MA) was able to score off of the rebound.
With a penalty draw by Kent with 3:33 left, Cushing took a timeout to figure out their next play in this critical situation. Kent then drew another penalty with 1:37 left in the game, giving the Penguins a 6 on 3 opportunity for 5 seconds. They played some 6-4 as well. Cushing was unable to capitalize, leaving Kent the Large School Division Champions.
“This is the first time we have ever been able to hang a banner in our rink. Kent has come close before but this is the first time winning the Championship and it is an amazing feeling!” said Kent’s Head Coach, Dale Reinhardt.
1st Star: Alex Giummo, Kent
2nd Star: Alex Contey, Kent
3rd Star: Aidan Cobb, Kent
NZ’s Take: The first two periods were generally played in the neutral zone as one team was not able to take full control. Each goalie, Joe Sharib for Cushing and Alex Contey or Kent were up to the task and made saves when needed.
The third was more wide open as each team pressed for the winning goal. After striking for two goals in less than 15 seconds, Kent survived by killing off an abbreviated 6-3 Power Play and also staving off a last minute surge by the Penguins.
For Cushing, Jacob Banks had a strong game. He was all over the ice and relentless on the forcheck. He plays a direct game and beat defenders wide all afternoon. Jake Hewitt was also noticable and made a few slick moves in transition. For Kent, the top unit of Dane Dowiak, Alex Laferriere and Mike Posma were strong all night and work well in transition as well as off-the-cycle. They did a good job getting behind Cushing’s defense and creating problems in front of the net.
Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images