To call the Boys Prep Piatelli/Simmons Small School championship game the the wildest of the day on Sunday would be a severe understatement.
Pomfret and Gunnery played the most entertaining game of the day at Trinity College’s Koeppel Community Center, full of plenty of goal scoring, some serious hitting and a raucous crowd that made for a phenomenal playoff atmosphere.
Pomfret sprinted out to a two-goal lead after one, but a three-goal second from Gunnery – with a hat trick from Zander Lizotte and two goals from Alex Jefferies – was the difference as the sixth-seeded Highlanders beat the eighth-seeded Griffins 5-3.
“We talk a lot about not riding the highs and the lows, and this game certainly put that to the test,” said Gunnery coach Craig Badger. “We don’t want to be in neutral. We want to be high all the time and that’s a very fine line. When you’re trying to play high all the time sometimes guys get too emotional, but I thought today and really the last couple of games we did a really good job.
Pomfret had a great crowd that was screaming at our guys, and it was wild back-and-forth wagon hockey out there, and honestly this year that’s the game that we play for better or for worse.”
The Griffins went up 2-0 with 12:06 and 8:42 left in the opening frame on goals from Carter Rugg and Tyler Bourque, but Jefferies got Gunnery on the board 11 seconds after the second goal to stop the bleeding a bit. Still, a goal from Ryan Kosinski with just 18.9 seconds left made it a 3-1 game after one.
Gunnery cut it to 3-2 on Lizotte’s first goal – a backdoor finish on the power play off a feed from Jefferies just under 10 minutes into the second. With 3:42 to go Lizotte came up the left wing and let a surprise shot go that snuck under the glove of Pomfret goalie Andrew Shearson (24 saves) to knot things up at 3-3.
A tap-in one timer for Jefferies on a feed from David Andreychuk with 2:20 left in the period made it 4-3 heading to the third.
Physical play towards the end of the second period carried over into the third. Gunnery was able to remain poised and eventually got a final tally from Lizotte with another assist going to Jefferies with 4:21 left to make it 5-3.
“We lost last year and had a goal to win it this year,” Lizotte said. “It’s a great accomplishment for us. Coach Badger is always telling us don’t get too high or too low and I thought we did a really good job of that in the second period – especially when it got kind of nuts there at the end – just keep it going and stay focused on the little details.”
As for the hat trick in a championship game? Well that was just another day at the office for Lizotte.
“Yeah it’s good, I’m just happy we won, that’s all that mattered,” Lizotte added.