Connecticut HS Hockey – Division 2 First Round Recap: Convincing Wins For Cheshire, East Haven Co-op; Westhill/Stamford Rallies

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 and East Haven Co-op both showed their might to open the CIAC Division II Tournament, advancing to the quarterfinals with convincing wins. The Yellowjackets were only one of two lower seeds to win, but their situation is unique (we’ll get to that in a bit).

Tuesday’s action also saw North Haven lose, ensuring there will be a new state champion later this month.

Let’s recap the action.  

No. 1 Cheshire Cruises, Westhill/Stamford Shows Resilience in Rally

Top-seeded Cheshire took another big step in its state title hunt, opening the Division II Tournament with a 6-0 rout of No. 16 seed Farmington Valley 6-0 on Tuesday. The Rams — ranked No. 2 in the HNIB News Connecticut Division II Top 8 — got three goals and two assists from Shane Fraser to improve to 21-1-1, matching the program record for single-season wins. Drew DePodesta, Charlie Golden, and Biagio Pepe contributed the other goals, while Ryan Miller stopped all 21 shots he faced for the shutout.

Next up for the Rams, who are seeking their first state championship since 2011, is No. 9 Watertown/Pomperaug, a 4-0 winner over No. 8 Hamden. Watertown/Pomperaug jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period and cruised from there. Joey Kovach scored two goals, which was more than enough with Andrew Brown in net.

Fourth-seeded Westhill/Stamford had to sweat a bit more, overcoming a two-goal deficit to beat No. 13 Lyman Hall 5-3. Ultimately, two third-period goals made the difference in this back-and-forth affair.

That sets up a second-round matchup with fifth-seeded Amity, which cruised past No. 12 South Windsor 5-1. The Spartans — coming off a loss to Cheshire in the SCC/SWC Division II final — got two goals from Cam Delvecchio and scored twice in the third period to put it away.

No. 15 East Haven Co-op Moves on, Defending Champ North Haven Eliminated

East Haven Co-op’s record may have taken a hit, but the 15th-seeded Yellowjackets remain legitimate contenders. They proved that Tuesday, handling No. 2 seed West Haven Co-op 6-1 on the strength of four special teams goals.

The Yellowjackets would have been the top seed, except they were forced to forfeit 14 games after discovering they had used an ineligible player. So, while their record is technically 20-1, it’s only 6-15 on paper. Thus, you have one of the strongest double-digit seeds in recent memory. Keep in mind, the Yellowjackets are ranked No. 1 in the HNIB News Connecticut Division II Top 8.

East Haven advanced to face No. 7 Guilford, which blanked No. 10 Wethersfield 3-0. Nate Ponzio scored twice, and Brett Pattison earned the shutout.

Noah Sampson
Woodstock Academy

On the bottom of the bracket, third-seeded Woodstock Academy edged No. 14 Glastonbury 2-1 on a goal by Troy Daviau. Noah Sampson had the Centaurs’ other goal.

They will face No. 6 North Branford, which bounced defending Division II champion and No. 11 seed North Haven 5-3 in a rematch of last year’s state semifinals.

Quarterfinal Matchups

(All Games on Friday)

No. 1 Cheshire vs No. 9 Watertown/Pomperaug, 6 p.m., West Haven

No. 4 Westhill/Stamford vs. No. 5 Amity, TBA, Wonderland of Ice

No. 15 East Haven Co-op vs. No. 7 Guilford, 6 p.m. Wesleyan University

No. 3 Woodstock Academy vs No. 6 North Branford, TBA, TBA

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