Connecticut Boys Hockey Tournament – Division 3 Semifinals: Fehl’s Late Goal Lifts Conard Past BBD; Ranger’s Pair Leads Newington To Win Over JBWA

Jim Clark
Jim Clark
Jim Clark joined Hockey Night in Boston in December 2019, and has covered high school hockey in Massachusetts for more than three decades. He also covers high school hockey and is a multiplatform editor for the Boston Globe, and previously spent two decades as high school hockey reporter at the Boston Herald, where he also served as the high schools editor from 2000-06. Clark was honored by the Mass. State Hockey Coaches Association with its William Stewart Award for contributions to the sport in May 2019, and also received the Joel Perlmutter Award for media coverage in 2006. A graduate of UMass, he also spent eight years as sports editor/reporter at the Sentinel & Enterprise in Fitchburg, and has extensively covered high school hockey in Central and Western Mass. as well as Connecticut.

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Conard’s Cinderella run through the CIAC Division 3 boys’ hockey bracket continued Monday night, but had to survive a brilliant goaltending performance and an even more upset-minded opponent to do so.

Senior Brian Fehl scored the winning goal with 1:43 to play and #9 seed Conard advanced to the title game with a 2-1 win over #4 BBD at Northford Ice Pavilion.

Conard will make its first championship game appearance since winning the Division 2 state title in 1996. It also is the lowest seed to make the Division 3 championship game since the division was added in 2006, and the lowest seed to make the final in any division since Fairfield Prep (also a 9) in 2016.

Despite being the lower seed, Conard outshot BBD 44-11 for the game.

Louie Alfidi

Junior Gavin McGowan started the winning play when he intercepted an attempted wraparound clear up the right wall, skated the puck down and all the way around the net to the left corner. McGowan sent a pass out to the left point to sophomore Nicholas Paolitto, who immediately fed it down low to Fehl on the back door. Camped all alone at the right post. Fehl deftly tipped the puck inside the right post past BBD goalie Louie Alfidi.

Kenny Granacker BBD

It was a rare moment that Conard was able to crack Alfidi, as the IceCats goaltender was brilliant with 42 saves.

And his effort helped keep the game even after BBD (Brookfield, Bethel and Danbury co-op) tied the game late in the second. Senior Kenny Granacker forced a turnover at center ice and broke in down the left wing. Cutting across the net, Granacker tucked a backhander at the right post past Conard goalie Graydon Selstad to make it 1-1 with 2:49 left in the second.

After a scoreless first period, Conard got on the board at 4:22 of the second. Forcing a turnover just outside the blue line, Conard broke into the zone as senior John Wenz skated the puck down the right wall and toward the back of the net. Wenz then fed it out front to sophomore Tyler West for the quick one-timer past Alfidi at the right post.

Newington 5, JBWA 1

In a tie game after 15 minutes, Harrison Ranger took over and made the difference for the second-seeded Nor’easters.

Ranger, a junior forward, scored a pair of goals and Newington struck three times in the second period to break away and topple third-seeded JBWA in a Division 3 semifinal at Northfield Ice Pavilion.

Newington will make its first championship appearance since winning the Division 3 title in 2013. The Nor’easters swept a pair of 2-0 wins over Conard in CCC South play this season.

Ranger’s first goal was the game-winner, snapping a 1-1 tie just 2:51 into the second. Senior defenseman Nickolas Giotsas flung the puck from the right point toward the net and Ranger, camped in the low slot, put his stick about 3 feet off the ice and redirected it home.

Senior defenseman Braeden Humphrey doubled the lead just over four minutes later, rushing nearly end-to-end before pulling up in the high slot and ripping a wrist shot past JBWA goalie Connor Thomas (31 saves) inside the right post.

Junior Evan Oliver made it 4-1 with 2:38 left in the period when he buried a one-timer from the slot after senior Tyler Leavitt won a puck battle in the right corner.

Ranger scored his second goal on a partial break with 22 seconds left in the game.

The game started a little slow for the Nor’easters as JBWA took a 1-0 lead just 5:26 into the game. Junior forward Spencer Thomas cut into the slot on the power play and fired a hard wrist shot inside the right post.

But Newington was able to shut down the potent JBWA offense, allowing just 14 shots total. JBWA was without dynamic sophomore Niko Tournas, who scored 59 goals this season but has since joined a non-high school team and was unable to play according to CIAC rules.

Just 1:57 after Thomas’ opening goal, Newington tied it off a faceoff. Junior forwards Josh Grimm and Andrew Stribling both had cracks at the net before Michael Deegan quickly banged home the third attempt.

JBWA – a co-op of Joel Barlow, Weston and Abbott Tech – reached the state semifinals for the first time in program history.

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