Milford hockey earns berth in SCC/SWC Division III tourney

The last time Milford played a postseason boys hockey game was 2015. That will change in two weeks.

Milford’s 8-0 win on Monday night over Shepaug put the Indians into the SCC/SWC Division III tournament. It’s their first conference tournament berth since the 2012 SCC Division II tournament. At 5-11, they have some work to do to secure their first CIAC tournament bid since the 2015 Division II tournament, but it’s in sight.

“We needed this win,” senior co-captain Rich Carino said. “It helps us in the state picture, too. It’s a crucial win.”

The Indians had lost seven of eight, but they haven’t been uncompetitive. Early in the year, they lost 5-2 to Division II Hand, which is ranked No. 10 in the GameTimeCT poll this week, and they lost 2-0 to Newington, which is among Division III’s top teams.

“Last year it was just kind of teach them how to play the game. They figured it out toward the end. We finished a lot stronger,” second-year Milford coach Ken Mitchell said; Milford went 4-16 last season, when it moved to Division III. “This year, they need to learn how to win. They need that hunger. We gave up a lot of leads in games this year.”

New Milford comes to Milford on Thursday afternoon; the winner will be the second seed in the SCC/SWC tournament and the loser will be third. New Milford takes second if they tie.

Sheehan, the two-time defending league champion, went undefeated in league play and is the top seed. Newtown, 7-2 in its past nine, will be the fourth seed.

The semifinals are March 4 at Milford Ice Arena, and the final is two nights later at Bennett Rink in West Haven.

Both Mitchell and Carino pointed to junior forward Kyle Kosh as a player who took steps forward this year. Mitchell said senior Jack Chizmazia started this year on the fourth line but has worked his way up the depth chart.

“It’s a good mix of young and old,” Mitchell said. “We have some kids who came in this year who played right away. Our defensemen are a year older; they’re sophomores this year.”; @fornabaioctp