Milford Mariners boys open hockey season with pair of victories

Kyle Kosh is the Milford Mariners captain.

Kyle Kosh is the Milford Mariners captain.

Law Athletics / Contributed photo

Milford co-op boy’s hockey coach Ken Mitchell respects the competition his Mariner team will face but expects them to compete well.

“Every game will be tough,” he said. “Staples will be good, East Haven is going to be tough, New Milford, Brookfield/Bethel/Danbury has a few kids back. If we play our game, then we will be a tough out.”

Milford posted a pair of 3-1 wins in its first two games.

Team captain Kyle Kosh credited goalie Derek Ouellette and his teammates readiness for the victories over Masuk and Newtown/New Fairfield.

“It was refreshing getting back on the ice and we were ready to go,” Kosh said. “Everyone knows their role and Derek Ouellette in net played great. We came out flying.”

Dressing outside rinks and playing before empty bleachers is part of the new deal.

Kosh said: “We want to play. We all know what we have to do (with COVID-19 protocols) to have a season together. Not having spectators, isn’t normal, you like to have your family and friends. Dressing outside is cold, but anything you can do to get to play is okay. I’m glad my teammates chose me to be captain and I hope to lead by example.”

Mitchell said: “Ever since he came to us as a sophomore Kyle has been a treat to coach. He makes us go. He doesn’t stop and hasn’t stopped from his sophomore year. He has been a leader.”

Kosh scored two goals against Masuk. Joey Honcz had the other. Ouelette made 27 saves in the programs first game under the new Mariner name.

Chad Stryker and Kevin Wokanovicz each netted their first career goals in the won over Newtown/New Milford. Honcz added his second goal of the season.

Mitchell said: “I got Derek his sophomore year and we had to get his confidence back (from playing as a freshman). Last year was when he really took hold. We had a nice run late and lost that hard-fought game to McMahon, which was as good a team in DIII as Sheehan (top-seeded SCC rival). I thought if they had won the next game, they would have given Sheehan a battle.”

Milford was seeded 10th in Division III a year ago. They lost 2-1 to No. 7 McMahon-Norwalk in states to finish 8-13 before the rest of the competition was curtailed by the pandemic.

“We had a big graduating class and lost some key pieces, so you never really know going into it with a young squad,” Mitchell said. “They have answered very well. I was pleased. Their effort is second to none and they are a fun bunch to coach.”

Kosh is on the first line with Honcz and sophomore Matt Wright.

“Joey centers the line and has taken a big step forward from sophomore year to this season. It has been nice to watch,” Mitchell said. “Matt has been a great addition. I think he drew three penalties in the opener, and I thought it could have been six.

“Connor Chirico centers the second line, where we have Chris Adkins and a rotation of three forwards with Ryan French, Charlie Sampson and Kyle Droney.”

The defense boasts a three-player rotation.

“We have Kevin Wokanovicz and Luca Ubaldi, who are Kyle’s assistant captains, and Chad Stryker. If any of the three get winded, Matt Wright can jump back and play defense. It works, they all play the position well and can pick and choose times to go (rush up ice).”

Mitchell likes his team’s makeup.

“Our skill level might not jump off the page, but their hockey IQ is there. With their energy, they just don’t quit,” he said. “Numbers are a little light. We are at 16, with 13 skaters Some others are out with physical issues.

“We have speed, they are smart, and they are starting to learn that if they are disciplined and trust the system that…well hockey is a funny game. You don’t always have to be the most skilled to compete and I think we will prove that this year.” Twitter: @blox354