When the Greenwich High School varsity hockey team needed a win most, goalkeeper Ricky Piper put the team on his back Tuesday night. The Cardinals needed two wins in their final four games to clinch a state playoff berth in a frustrating season. The Cardinals got the first win out of the way with a 2-0 victory over Westhill at Terry Conners Rink.
Piper was perfect in net, stopping all 27 shots by a speedy and determined Westhill offense looking for a playoff berth of its own. He also had some luck on his side with three Westhill shots clanking off the post.
"I love the pressure. I thrive on it," Piper said. "We're a defensive team, and we're not going to win a game 5-1. I love that coach tells me I have to go out there and stop every shot."
Greenwich had plenty of opportunities against a feisty Westhill squad that took eight penalties on the evening. Greenwich used a 5-on-3 advantage late in the first period to get on the scoreboard. Ryan Corrigan's wrist shot popped the top right side of the net to give the Cardinals all the offense they needed.
Greenwich got the insurance goal it needed early in the third when Eric Macken and Woody Waesche forced a scrum in front of the net. Westhill goalie Zach Philipson fell to the ice in the scramble, giving Greenwich's Oscar Ladd a wide open net to easily chip in its second goal.
Piper was everywhere it seemed, calling out plays and alertly rushing to the bench when Greenwich needed an extra attacker. He even borrowed Craig Macken's stick for almost a minute when a furious third period attack by Westhill knocked his behind the net.
"Ricky has very little margin for error, but even against that knowledge he does a real good job," Greenwich head coach Bob Russel said. "He made a lot of real hard saves look easy tonight and that's what good goalies do."
Greenwich has two opportunities to get the one win it needs to clinch a state playoff berth. The Cardinals host St. Joseph on Thursday and finish their regular season slate against Norwalk-McMahon next Monday.
Will Greenwich hockey clinch a state tournament berth? 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.