WATERTOWN — Just getting to opening night was no small task for Watertown-Pomperaug co-op hockey team coach Vic Vicenzi, III.
With the usual home ice at The Taft School unavailable for use, Vicenzi had to hustle to find a rink to call home for the 2021 season.
“I did have to do a lot of leg work to get us ice in Shelton,” said Vicenzi, whose efforts were rewarded when the Indians took to the ice to begin their 12-game schedule against Amity Regional at the Sports Center of Shelton on February 10.
“I’m glad at least things are working out and it has been worth it.”
It certainly was in the opener, as the Indians defeated Amity, 3-0.
Senior goaltender Owen Gallagher was in complete control throughout, shutting out the Spartans in the SWC-SCC Division II match.
Accounting for all the offense was senior forward Ryan Magee, who scored once in each period and put then game away for the Indians with an empty-netter in the final minute.
In a non-league game against Trumbull High School of the Fairfield County Conference, the Indians, after taking a 2-1 lead in the second period, were the victims of a late surge, as THS scored three times in the late second and third periods to skate off with a 4-2 win.
Magee again was the W-P offense, scoring both goals to give him five on the young season; his second gave the locals the lead.
However, Trumbull snapped a 2-2 deadlock with 2;50 remaining in regulation time, then put the game away with an empty net goal with 12 seconds remaining.
W-P will play five games in Shelton’s two rinks; at least through the month of February, spectators will not be admitted and the games will be played under strict Covid-19 prevention guidelines.
It will be a new world on the ice, as it will be everywhere else; here are the do’s:
A one-minute mask break will be instituted at the first stoppage of play at or after the 4-minute, 8-minute, and 12-minute mark of each period.
During a mask break, the players will maintain greater than six feet of distance and may get water; also, a game official has discretion to stop the game at any point during the contest to address mask concerns, which may include but are not limited to: a player’s mask comes off during play, a player’s mask is observed to have slipped below the player’s nose, or an official is experiencing an issue with his/her own mask.
How it will affect the flow of play will be interesting to see, but the thing to remember is that it’s all done with an eye towards safety for everyone.
Safety and gaining varsity experience are paramount to Vicenzi, who summed up his team this way: “We have been plugging along, playing well at times in our intrastate scrimmages.”
The team, which is led by seniors Owen Gallagher, Ryan Magee, Ryan Robinson and Thomas Leonard, has an interesting balance on the roster of 27.
It’s all in how you look at it: A combined 14 seniors and juniors to go along with 13 sophomores and freshmen, or four seniors, 19 juniors and sophs and four newcomers.
Either way, Vicenzi has plenty of numbers to coach up, something he been exceptionally well at over the years; yes the man knows how to build and then re-build a program, as his record of taking teams to championships shows.
It will start in the goal, where Gallagher and junior Carly Bokina will handle the chores.
Sam Swoyer, Spencer Ances, Joseph Meglio, Zach Burstiner, Thomas Leonard and freshman Robert LaBonia will see the majority of the time as the defensive core, but Vicenzi has proven adept mixing and matching to find the right combinations and won’t hesitate to move a forward back or a blue-liner up to see where they provide the best fit.
Aiden Moaddel, Magee, Leonard and Robinson, as well as junior Matt Christina are among the returning forces on the forward lines, where again, Vicenzi will dole out ice time to units which are working and use time behind the bench to explain to a player on the bench to be ready when he calls their number.
“Ice time is earned,” said Vicenzi, who added, “I expect maximum effort out of evey player on every shift; getting careless or sloppy gets you hurt and hurts the team.”
With a shortened season, there will be little time for mistakes, but still tremendous room for growth for this season and beyond, when hopefully local fans will be able to watch Vicenzi’s team on it’s own ice.
1Owen GallagherG 12
2Robert LubusF 11
3Aiden Moaddel F11
4Gavin Maton F 10
5Samuel Swoyer D 11
6Henry Marino F 11
7Aidan Kane F 11
8Tyler Paccione F 10
9Jack Mulhall F 10
10Ryan Magee F 12
11Spencer Ances D 11
12Salvatore Cappuzzo F 10
13Nicholas Bristol F 10
14Ryan Robinson F 12
15Jackson Hitchcock F 9
16Nathan LaMadeleine F 10
17Zachary Burstiner D 10
19/29 Aidan Nemoto F 11
20Shane Repetto F 10
21Matthew Christina F 11
22Colin Leach F 10
23Thomas Leonard D 12
24Jack Gouveia F 9