First line propels Lyman Hall past Milford Indians

NORTHFORD — After losing its first two games, the Lyman Hall hockey team was looking for a spark. Coach Tim Belcher is hoping two straight wins in less than 24 hours is the start of a turnaround for his team.

After watching his team score seven times in a win over Trumbull last Thursday night, Belcher again saw a solid effort in a 6-0 victory over Milford Friday afternoon at the Northford Ice Pavilion.

In what may have been the team’s best outing thus far, Lyman Hall scored twice in the first 3 minutes, 27 seconds of the game and cruised to the victory.

“We came out yesterday and today and played well,” Belcher said after his team improved to 2-4. “I wanted to get a few more shots but I was happy with the pressure we put on them.

“After starting the year 0-4 and putting up two wins at the end of the calendar year, it is a great way to end the year. I couldn’t ask for a better 24 hours.”

Lyman Hall performed well in all phases of the game against the Indians. The Trojans put 40 shots on goal, limited the Indians to just 19 shots and kept them off the scoreboard despite five short-handed situations.

Milford (1-2-1) never got on track and the first 4 minutes of the game were decisive. The Trojans scored twice in a span of 1:38 to build too deep of a hole for the Indians to climb out of.

“It is tough to play catch up against them,” Milford coach Sal Follo said. “That first line of theirs is excellent. They are tough to contain.”

That first line is comprised of Andrew Zona, Adam McKay and Pat Reynolds. The three linemates combined for 13 points with Zona scoring twice and assisting on three other goals, McKay picking up a goal and four assists and Reynolds scoring once and assisting two more.

For Zona, the 24-hour stretch saw the junior score six times and assist on five more goals.

“That is a special trio of Andrew Zona, Adam McKay and Pat Reynolds,” Belcher said. “It was a great day for them. They can pretty much do what they want out there. Yesterday, Andrew scored four times and assisted on two others. That’s a nice two days for him.”

Lyman Hall struck first as McKay and Zona set up sophomore Kaden Batzinger 1:49 into the game for a 1-0 lead. Just 1:38 later, McKay beat Milford goaltender Matt White from in front off assists from Zona and Reynolds.

Despite being outshot 15-6 in the opening period, the Indians had their share of opportunities to capitalize.

The Indians, however, could not capitalize on what amounted to their best chances of the day.

Ricky Cyr was denied in close by Lyman Hall goaltender R.J. Negri with 7:05 remaining and Craig Wargo’s back-handed attempt from in front sailed over the net 45 seconds later.

Milford’s T.J. Olsson had two great scoring chances within 1:30 but didn’t capitalize. Olsson one-timed a shot wide with 6 minutes left, then missed alone in front with a back-hander a short time later.

“I think if we connected on a few of those opportunities in the first period, it would have been a different story,” Follo said. “Down 3-2 after one period is different than 3-0. It was not meant to be. They poured it on in the second.”

Lyman Hall took a 3-0 lead with 1:23 to go in the opening period. White tried to beat Zona to a loose puck in front but it went to Reynolds who easily scored into an empty net for a 3-0 lead.

The Trojans added two more goals in the second for a commanding 5-0 lead.

Zona came out of the corner untouched after taking a pass from Reynolds and Zona calmly beat White to the glove side with 8 minutes to go in the second for a 4-0 lead.

Lyman Hall scored its only power-play goal with 4:08 remaining in the middle period. With three chances at a loose puck in front, Tyler Luschenat finally found the back of the net, beating White between the legs.

“We scored early,” Belcher said. “That’s big with our team. It is hard to play from behind all the time. We did a nice job with that today.”

The Indians had their chances on the power-play but could not capitalize on five opportunities. The Indians also allowed Zona’s short-handed goal off a two-on-one with McKay with 3:44 gone by in the third period.

“We try to preach pressure when we are killing penalties,” Belcher said. “We work on it every day. We are starting to see it in our performance.”

Milford had a few final chances to get on the scoreboard but came up empty. Wargo hit the post with 7:11 remaining and Zach White shot wide of the net down the right wing with 15 seconds remaining.

Negri made 13 saves in two periods of action for the Trojans. Zach Sansone and Steve Esposito combined for six third-period saves to preserve the shutout.

Matt White made 27 saves for Milford in two periods of play. Beau Bonessi played the third period and made seven saves.