At long last, the wait is over for Masuk.
The top-seeded Panthers captured their first CIAC boys hockey title in school history Monday night, defeating No. 2 seed Newington Co-op 6-3 in the Division III state final at Quinnipiac University.
It was the perfect ending to a nearly perfect season for the Panthers, who went 23-1-2 and also won the SWC/SCC Division III championship. They finished the year with nine straight wins and a 23-game unbeaten streak. Their only loss came against Branford, 7-6, on Dec. 21.
“Everything went right this year,” Masuk coach Andy Townsend told CTInsider. “Even when we lost to Branford, we just put it in the rearview mirror and kept going forward. It was just an unbelievable year where everything that could’ve gone right goes right.”
Newington (23-3) was bidding for its second consecutive Division III title after beating Conard 3-1 in last year’s final.
Powering the Panthers was Drew Scalia, who scored three goals and added an assist. Scalia opened the scoring just 1:33 in, capitalizing off a turnover to beat Newington’s Jeremy Wagner. Josh Beaudoin pulled Newington even just 21 seconds later, but Scalia helped put the Panthers back in front 8:03 in when he set up Nick Kondub for a goal.
Scalia’s second goal of the game, which gave Masuk a 3-2 lead with 3:37 left in the second period, evoked chants of “MVP” from the Masuk student section. He completed the hat trick on an ensuing 5-on-3 power play to double the score and ultimately seal Newington’s fate.
Kyle Sutfin and A.J. Michetti accounted for Masuk’s other two goals, which both came in the third period. Soon after, a triumphant celebration ensued on the ice, as goalie Maddex LaFountain — who finished with 24 saves — was mobbed by his teammates.
“It was unreal,” Scalia said via CTInsider. “Taking (the championship plaque) back to our fans, our supporters throughout the whole year, it was just a great feeling. I could see a bunch of smiles. It was a great feeling.”
Masuk had been to the state finals just once before Monday, falling 5-2 to E.O. Smith/Tolland in 2015. The Panthers lost in the first round from 2016-20 — the 2020 tournament was canceled following the first round due to the COVID-19 pandemic — and again in 2022. There was no tournament in 2021.
Nate Thomas and Josh Grimm added goals for Newington. The CCC South champions were appearing in their second straight final and sixth all-time. In addition to 2022, they also won in 2012 and 2013.