By Brittany Burke
The Blue Devils all gathered at one end of the ice, helmets off and attention focused on the blue and white balloons that adorned their bench’s entrance to the ice. In alphabetical order, five seniors were called to meet their parents and were given a rose, which they all gave to their mothers.
As Tim Dillon, Ryan Paglinco, Michael Joy, Zach Vidmosko and Adam Goldstein’s names were called, cheers erupted from the stands and the sound of hockey sticks smacking the ice echoed through the rink from their teammates.
The 9-5 win over UConn (9-8-2-3) wasn’t your ordinary in-state rivalry matchup. It was one fueled with emotion for five guys whose CCSU (17-8-2-2) careers will soon be coming to an end.
“ … being on the ice to start the game then to end the game with these guys who we’ve played with for four, sometimes four and a half/five years … it is emotional to know the season’s coming to an end and some of us may not be playing hockey anymore, some of us may not play together again so it is kind of emotional,” said Joy.
With John Palmieri minding CCSU’s net, CCSU managed to get the early 4-1 lead less than three minutes into the second period.
UConn was giving CCSU ample chances to capitalize on the man advantage, which soon turned into their first two goals, but the Huskies aren’t a team known for folding.
In the first meeting between the two teams, CCSU blew a four-goal lead to eventually walk away with a tie and it looked like history could be repeating itself in Newington.
“They’re a talented team and they can put pucks away and last time we played them they came back from four goals,” said Paglinco. “So you always have that in the back of your mind that they can come back on ya.”
Two back-to-back power-play goals cut CCSU’s goal advantage to one; however another CCSU power-play goal from Paglinco put the Blue Devils up 5-3 going into the game’s final intermission.
The lead was short lived as CCSU allowed for an additional two UConn goals, which had the game all tied up at five. A breakdown occurred for CCSU as the game wore on and more penalties were taken.
A goal from brothers Ryan and Conor Stanley put the home team back up by one, but with Brian Fay serving two minutes in the box UConn had another chance to tie. The penalty kill allowed CCSU to keep the lead and helped sway the momentum in their favor.
“It was good to see that the penalty killers were able to keep the pressure and the shots to the minimum,” said Head Coach Ben Adams. “ … we were kind of nervous taking penalties late because we didn’t know how their power play was, but we made the proper adjustments and the guys battled.”
Soon enough CCSU was back up by two when Dillon took the puck up the ice, sent it backwards where he found teammate Matt Siracusa who netted it in the glove-side top corner with 7:57 left in the game.
Siracusa finished the game with two goals and was one 14 Blue Devils to get on the score sheet.
“The offensive contributions were pretty spread out, which was nice,” said Adams. “Contributions from pretty much everybody, it’s nice that they gutted it out. They could have folded the tents and it could have gone real bad real quick, but they stayed focused mentally they were tough tonight and we’re gonna need that down the stretch.”
With the crowd cheering it was apparent from that point on it was CCSU’s game. Another huge penalty kill and an empty net goal made by Conor Stanley seemingly secured the win, until Paglinco notched his second goal of the night with 16 seconds left to play.
CCSU needed the victory coming off of last weekend’s win drought, but the turnaround is quick. Following the weekend’s final road game at Boston University, CCSU comes back to Newington on Feb. 18 at 8:15 p.m. to play against SCSU.
The game against the Owls was a late addition to the schedule to avoid a lull in competitive play before heading into this year’s regionals in Danbury the following weekend.