One thing was for sure heading into the Connecticut Division 3 state championship game, one thing was for sure. One team was going to leave the rink with its first state title.
That team ended up being the Eastern CT Eagles (19-3-3), who overpowered third-seeded Tri-Town 7-3 to win the 2018 CIAC crown at Yale University’s Ingalls Rink.
Senior captain Kevin Close was instrumental in the win for the Eagles, scoring a hat trick and adding an assist. Close had scored two goals in the Eagles’ 8-6 semifinal win over Staples.
Quenten Dean got things started for the Eagles, scoring at the 3:53 mark of the first period, assisted by Ryan Huta and Kayle Marino. Eastern CT then scored twice in a span of 1:12 to take a commanding 3-0 lead. Will Cannella scored the second goal and Evan Tower made it a 3-0 game.
Michael Shuman then scored a power play goal with just 10 seconds left on the period to bring Tri-Town (15-9-1) back within two goals.
Close’s first goal of the game early in the second period restored the three-goal margin for the Eagles. But another power play goal, this one by Andrew Gaines at 10:47, again brought the Terrorcats back to two-goal deficit at 4-2.
But just over a minute later, Close assisted on a goal by Kyle Jacobson that restored ECE’s three-goal lead at 5-2 heading into the third period.
Close then put the game out of reach with goals at 5:37 and 8:42 of the third period. Tri-Town’s Alex Kniseley closed out the scoring with another power play goal at 12:54.
The two teams split a pair of regular-season matchups, with the Eastern CT Eagles winning an 8-5 game, and Tri-Town taking a 6-5 decision a week later.