Amity climbs towards Division III crown

Anyone who follows the scholastic hockey scene knows that the weekly "Hockey Night in Boston" is the bible of New England scholastic hockey. In its latest issue, HNIB ranked the Amity hockey team No. 1 in Division III.

While Spartan coach Gary Lindgren insisted that the lofty ranking was really meaningless, he was also flattered to see his program earn that recognition. It is questionable as to whether the Spartans will hang on to their No. 1 designation after dropping a 3-2 overtime contest to St. Bernard's-Uncasville last week.

Rebounding from its second successive one goal loss, the Spartans blanked New Fairfield 1-0 to improve its overall record to 6-3-1.

Colby Hine's goal just 3 minutes into the first period gave Amity a quick 1-0 lead over St. Bernard's. Steve Hunt and Rob Prely earned assists on Hine's score. Even though they outshot the Saints 10-2, the Spartans did not score again in the opening session.

"We let them off the hook in the first period," Lindgren said. "St. Bernard's came out flat .We took it to them; kept them bottled up in their own zone; and controlled the game but just couldn't score again. We had some chances, but their goalie (J.D. Albani) played well and made some big stops."

The Saints came on much stronger in the second period and Glenn Greene tied the game 1-1 with a goal at 2:25. Brian Kownacki, who now has eight goals and nine assists, broke the deadlock when he scored on a breakaway at 9:07 of the same session.

Steve Cappiello and Jeff Montini, the team's high scorer with six goals and 14 assists, set up the score with precision passes. That 2-1 lead lasted only 1:12 as St. Bernard answered right back with Greene's second goal of the game at 10:19. Lindgren attributed the game-tying goal to his team's poor defensive coverage.

"We left the door open and they came right in and tied us," Lindgren said.

Following a hard-fought but scoreless third period, the game went into sudden-death overtime. It took a mere 26 seconds for Greene to earn a hat trick and end the game with his 15-foot one timer that sailed by Amity goalie Kevin Donovan.

"I don't think Kevin expected that shot and wasn't ready for it," Lindgren said. "He was surprised that their kid (Greene) got the shot off. We outshot them 26-24 and took more quality shots, but they still beat us 3-2. For some reason, we seem to lack the killer instinct to jump on a team that's down and put them away. St. Bernard's keyed on Brian (Kownacki) and Jeff (Montini) by taking away their skating lanes. They played hard and were hungry for the win."

Despite the final score, Lindgren felt that the Hine, Hunt and Preli line had played well.

"After our 5-1-1 start, I think these two one-goal losses in a row brought us back to earth," Lindgren said. "We're not a high scoring team. We've only scored four goals in our last three games, but I'm glad to see that our defense is stepping up and playing better."

Amity journeyed up to Danbury on Saturday to take on New Fairfield's Rebels. Following a physical but scoreless first period, passes from Sean White (six goals; four assists) and Jeremy Proto set up Jesse Hine and he slammed a one-timer by Rebel goalie Sean Doyle only 28 seconds into the second period. That would prove to be the only goal of the game as the Spartans skated home with their second shutout win of the season.

"It was a defensive struggle from start to finish," Lindgren said. "We never got into an offensive flow. Dileep Menon, Cody Ballou and A.J. Anderson had a couple of great shifts and Dileep got off a few good shots

"But their goalie (Doyle) came up big. There were very few quality scoring opportunities for either team. Jake Gilfix and Andrew Aiello did good jobs on defense and Kevin (Donovan) got a well-earned shutout. Each team took 20 shots."

"It was an old fashioned, hard-hitting but clean hockey game. It's rare to see a 1-0 final score in high school hockey. It was good to see our defense play so well. We're gaining valuable experience playing all these close games."