The Greenwich High School boys ice hockey players are facing must-win situations every time they lace up their skates as the season dwindles down to a handful of games. The hard-luck Cardinals got a cathartic blowout win over Trinity Catholic on Tuesday, 5-1, thanks in large part to a stellar 24 save performance in net by senior captain goalkeeper Ricky Piper.
"We've definitely had some bad luck this year. We know we've outplayed a lot of teams this year, but they get the lucky bounce or something," Piper said. "We know now we have to win every game for the rest of the season, and there's no doubt in our minds that we can."
Trinity surprised Greenwich out of the gate with a strong attack, outshooting the Cardinals in the first period, but Piper kept the game scoreless. Greenwich found out between periods that Trinity was starting freshman goalie, Ben Fumaga, in his first ever varsity game. That whet the appetite of the Cardinals' offense, and the floodgates opened in the second period.
Defenseman Mike DeLuca blew a screaming slapshot from the blue line past Fumaga to put Greenwich on the board. Greenwich then got two quick goals off designed plays from the faceoff.
Eric Macken won both face-offs and quickly fed the puck to captain Alex Liebers for goal number two and Walker Brady to light the lamp for the third time. Liebers added his second goal with just less than a minute remaining in the period after some nifty skating, finding an opening on the left side of the net.
Piper was 1:48 from a shutout when Trinity pulled its goalie and got a power play advantage, slipping in its lone goal. Macken added Greenwich's fifth and final goal with 1:23 to play.
"This is a big win here because needing three out of six [wins] is much better than four out of six," Greenwich head coach Bob Russel said. "It feels better, but there are still no layup teams from here on out."
At 4-8-2, Greenwich needs to win three of its five remaining games to make the state tournament. Now on a two-game winning streak, Greenwich will take on Fairfield Co-Op in a road game on Saturday.
Do you think the Greenwich boys hockey team can sneak into the state tournament? Start the discussion below!
Follow Eric Gendron on Twitter for the latest MSC sports coverage.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.