Connecticut HS Hockey – CIAC Division 2 State Final: Pepe’s 4 Goals Power Cheshire To 6-3 Championship Win Over East Haven Co-op

Doug Bonjour
Doug Bonjour
Doug Bonjour joined Hockey Night in Boston in November 2022. He has covered high school and college sports in Connecticut for more than a decade, including stints as the UConn women’s basketball and UConn football beat reporter for Hearst Connecticut Media. During his time reporting on the 11-time national champion Huskies, he covered three NCAA Final Fours. He previously was a general assignment reporter for GameTimeCT and the Connecticut Post, and covered high school sports statewide, including boys hockey. Prior to that he was the managing/sports editor for the Westport News and Norwalk Citizen community weekly newspapers. He also has written for the Associated Press and New York Times. He graduated from Hofstra University in 2008 with a degree in print journalism.

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Cheshire is a state champion again, and it has Biago Pepe largely to thank.

Pepe scored not one, not two, not three, but four goals to help the top-seeded Rams beat East Haven Co-op 6-3 in Monday’s Division II state final at Quinnipiac’s M&T Bank Arena. In doing so, the Rams claimed their first CIAC title since 2011 and fifth all-time.

Cheshire’s Drew DePodesta celebrates a Biagio Pepe goal which put the Rams ahead 3-0, en route to an eventual 6-3 over East Haven Co-op. (Photo by Chris Eadevito/CT Hockey Report)

“Last year, the seniors over there paved the way for this team,” Cheshire goalie Ryan Miller said via GameTimeCT. “It’s pretty huge now to turn the tide for Cheshire hockey. Now we’re just going to keep it going.”

Miller, a sophomore, contributed 29 saves to fend off East Haven, the No. 1 team in the HNIB News Connecticut Division II Top 8.

Pepe put Cheshire on the board first at 13:59 of the first period, then made it 3-0 early in the second. His third and fourth goals — the last an empty-netter — came in the final minutes of the third, after the Yellowjackets had sliced the deficit to 4-3 with three unanswered goals.

The banner season culminated with Cheshire going 24-1-1, a school record for wins in a season. The Rams were ranked No. 2 in the HNIB News Connecticut Division II Top 8 but will take over the top spot when the final poll is released.

East Haven, meanwhile, technically finished 8-16, noticeably worse than its on-ice record of 22-2. The Yellowjackets forfeited 14 games earlier this season after discovering they’d used an ineligible player. Because of that, they needed to win their final four games just to qualify for the state playoffs.

One of their forfeited games was a 5-2 victory over Cheshire on Dec. 30.

“All the credit in the world to Cheshire,” East Haven coach Lou Pane said via GameTimeCT. “They were a great team from the beginning of the season when we played the first time to the end. Ironically, the best two teams did meet here tonight. Unfortunately, we were on the short end of it, but like I told our guys, there’s nothing to hang their heads about.”

A power-play goal by East Haven’s Griffin McGlinchey with 6:22 remaining trimmed Cheshire’s lead to 4-1. McClinchey also had assists on both of Lorenzo DeFilio’s goals, which pulled the Yellowjackets within one.

But Pepe’s third goal, just 23 seconds later via the power play, wiped away whatever chance East Haven had of pulling off the comeback. 

** Featured Image courtesy of Chris Eadevito/CT Hockey Report

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