They struggled through injuries. They struggled with a weak offense. They struggled through a family tragedy . They struggled with plain old bad luck. Despite it all, the Greenwich High School boys varsity hockey team managed to sneak into the FCIAC and state tournaments on the season's final day.
Paul Macken scored the first and only goal Greenwich would need late in the first against a greatly improved Norwalk-McMahon Co-Op team on Monday. Greenwich clung to that 1-0 lead for most of the game, even though it got 46 shots on goal -- a rarity for the defense-minded Cardinals.
Norwalk brought good pressure throughout the third period and looked poised to tie the game. It tried to get the 6-on-5 advantage by pulling the goalie before a crucial faceoff with 1:32 to play.
It proved to be too early to leave the net open against an opponent that had controlled the puck most of the game. Eric Macken won the faceoff, fed the puck at mid-ice to Alex Liebers, who calmly dumped it into the waiting net.
"We sort of knew all season we were going to have to work really hard for wins," Greenwich head coach Bob Russel. "Our trademark is a 2-0 game with an empty net goal. We knew we'd have to fight to keep opponents as close to zero as possible."
Emotions ran high throughout the game, with Norwalk taking big hits on top scorer Liebers. Both teams spent ample time in the penalty box, with Greenwich having to kill off a 5-on-3 Norwalk power play in the second.
"It's definitely satisfying to get in, but we don't want to stop there," Liebers said. "We don't want to be content with just getting in, but it is satisfying to grab a spot."
Greenwich (7-9-2) currently holds the fifth seed in the FCIAC tournament , but will likely slip to sixth or even seventh with two conference games left for a red-hot Staples team and none for the Cardinals. If Greenwich falls to the lower seed, it will play its FCIAC quarterfinal Friday. If the Cardinals hold their five seed they will start the FCIAC tournament on Saturday.
Now that Greenwich has clinched, do you think they can go far in the FCIACs or states? Start the discussion below!
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