With the way the top seeded Brookfield-Bethel-Danbury IceCats carried the play throughout their SWC playoff game with fourth seeded Joel Barlow, they certainly deserved the benefit of an improbable game-winning goal in their 3-1 win.
The play started innocently enough, with Falcons’ goalie Gordon Loery turning aside Stephen Hallock’s shot, but then puck hit the end boards, soared up over the heads of everyone on the ice and back over the net before ricocheting off of Loery, and into the net.
“When they’re playing defense like that, they have two deep, they’re really tight around the net and you’re generally not going to beat the goalie the first shot with that much traffic in front,” Coach Rusty Granacker said. “It’s going to be a rebound or a second opportunity of some kind.”
Hallock’s second goal in as many games, gave the IceCats a 2-1 lead with just over eight minutes left in the third.
One minute later, Nick Melvin capitalized on Trevor Kurijaka’s feed, putting the IceCats up by two and providing some breathing room. Skating on a line normally centered Andrew Creaturo, Melvin came was sent on to take a defensive zone face off and then quickly joined the rush after winning the draw.
“Nicky’s been real good on face offs lately, so I threw him out there to just try and win that draw,” Granacker said. ‘Nicky created that play by breaking into open ice and giving Trevor someone to pass to, and that really helped seal the game. You definitely don’t want to go to a 2-1 game, the last two or three minutes of the game, because anything’s possible.”
While the IceCats were able to break through for a pair of late goals, it was the Falcons who scored first and took a 1-0 lead into the second despite being outshot 8-3.
“They were a little silent,” Granacker said of the locker room after one. “Anything’s possible when the game’s close like that. These guys are kids, they’re emotional, the highs and lows could kill you. We just got a little refocused between periods, they played better in the second than they did in the first, and they played better in the third than they did in the second.”
After regrouping during the intermission, the IceCats came out and controlled the second, outshooting the Falcons 10-1 in the period, but were kept off the scoreboard for the first 10 minutes of the period.
They finally broke through when Hallock forced a turnover in the neutral zone that led to CJ Litwin’s wrist shot that squirted through Loery’s legs.
“CJ has a tremendous shot, our biggest point is just getting him to take more shots and work with his line mates” Granacker said. “He’s only been here half a season with us, but he’s starting to gel, and plays better with the team every game.”
Melvin was credited with the assist making him the only the player in the game with multiple points.
“Nicky’s really come on the last two or three games,” Granacker said. “He struggled through middle of the season putting pucks in the net. I gotta really credit Nicky Melvin tonight, he came through big.”
Luiz Dibble made the start in net and stopped five shots in the win.
With the win, the IceCats advance to play Watertown-Pomperaug in the SWC Championship on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. at the . The IceCats will look to claim back-to-back SWC titles and beat the second seeded Indians for the second time this year, after notching a 3-2 road win in January.