Groton, MA – This contest between the Griffins of Pomfret and the Zebras of Groton puts both squads one win away from a title shot tomorrow in Hartford and both squads came out of the gate hungry. Pomfret showed quick outlets and good pressure off the edge but Groton clogged up the house and didn’t allow many Grade A chances to get through. The Zebras were also strong in the middle of the rink: creating turnovers and reading passes out of the zone well. They were stingy in their own zone as well, digging their heels in and winning battles along the walls. Both goalies were on their game early as well and each made key saves on rebounds to preserve a 0-0 tie heading to the second.
In the middle frame, the Griffins stepped their game up to another level and continued to put pressure on Groton’s D. They won races, gained inside ice and found soft spots in the zone: they were really tough to defend all period. They finally broke the seal seven minutes into the frame when forward Matt Lakus made a tremendous drop pass after drawing a defender and gave forward Jake Hughes extra space where he cruised in on net and buried: 1-0 Griffins. Four minutes later the onslaught continued when D Ryan Kosinski made a nice pinch down the wall and whipped it to the left post which is where sophomore Declan Chapman was standing for the tap-in: 2-0 Griffins. Three minutes later, the Griffins would take a penalty and senior netminder Andrew Shearson made three massive saves to preserve the momentum. Just seconds later, the senior Hughes created a 2-on-1 with senior Tufts commit Sami Hakkarainen and he pulled up to give Hakkarainen a lane to the net: dish and score which made it 3-0. Ultimately Groton didn’t play poorly in the period: Pomfret made some terrific plays to take advantage of small coverage gaps. On we went to the third where Groton would need a big push to get back into the proceedings.
The Zebras made a bold move to start off the period by pulling starting sophomore goaltender Thomas Giroux in favor of senior Kevin Clark. The Griffins gave the Zebras some chances thanks to multiple power plays as the third wore on but Groton was unable to cash in. Ultimately the defensive layers of Pomfret were too much for Groton today. Credit to Groton for staying aggressive and deploying the stretch forward on the PK but it did not lead to any additional goals sadly. The period moved forward and there was a bit more chippy play and a few extra matching penalty minutes but ultimately Pomfret sealed the victory with an empty net hustle goal by Kyle Tomaso: 4-0 final.
- 1. G Andrew Shearson, Pomfret
- 2. F Jake Hughes, Pomfret
- 3. F Cam Lowe, Pomfret
TTPA: D Bryan McLachlan, Groton
NZ Notes: This game featured an 8 seed against a 4 seed but it sure didn’t play out that way. While Groton created some good early chances in the first few minutes and in stretches of the third, Pomfret owned the puck possession which created extended zone time and their defensive layers allowed them to retrieve pucks quickly. Groton is a senior led roster with good team speed, but today Pomfret simply was quicker. The Griffins also found ways to win 1:1 battles, lift sticks and emerge from the corners successfully – they were on a mission tonight and it was quite impressive.
For Groton, sophomores Max Noll and Bryan McLachlan were both very good because they prevented chances in their own end and drove offensive possession as well. Noll was great at fending off contact with his big frame and McLachlan was great at reading the zone and picking off passes to spoil the breakout. We also want to give a nod to goaltender Tommy Giroux – he did get pulled in the third period but the goals he gave up in this game were really offensive impressive plays that he couldn’t do much about. His vision through traffic is rock solid for a player listed at 5’11 – as he moves into his upperclassmen seasons he will be worth keeping an eye on.
For Pomfret, the creativity of junior Cam Lowe was noteworthy with a between the legs drop pass and good acceleration off the wing. Goalie Andrew Shearson was super amped for this game and he completely shut down the bottom half of the net in this one. Even when there were second looks at the net, he was in great position to make the save because he made himself big and blocky. And then there was senior defender Vaclav Hes who was wholly consistent on the back end for the Griffins. He is listed at 6’6 and he moves very well given that size. He is smooth and sleek on retrievals and has better hands than you would expect for a player of his size. We will see how the Griffins do in tomorrow’s matchup at 12:30pm down in Hartford.
Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images