Harrison Ranger, a senior from Cromwell, scored his 100th career point as the Newington co-op ice hockey team made a second straight state championship.
Newington’s bid for a second straight ice hockey state championship ended at Quinnipiac University, falling to Masuk 6-3 at the M&T Bank Arena in Hamden on March 20.
The Nor’easter, the # 3 seed in the tourney, went toe-to-toe with the top-seeded Panthers before running out of steam in the third period as Masuk’s Andrew Scalia netted a hat trick to help secure the program’s first state title.
It ended another remarkable season for Newington, who won the Central Connecticut Conference-South conference and totaled 23 wins as they earned a return trip to the state championship game.
“We accomplished a lot and had a heck of a season,” Newington head coach David Harackiewicz said. “It’s disappointing, but one team has to win and one team has to lose. It shouldn't take away from what [we] accomplished this year. I was really proud of the group.”
After Masuk struck first on a goal from Scalia less than two minutes into the game, Newington countered on a goal from Josh Beaudoin with an assist from Jack Petronio.
The scrappy Nor’easter again knotted the game (2-2) in the second period when Nate Thomas scored on a great feed from Harrison Ranger.
Entering the third period, the Nor’easters trailed 4-2, yet Harackiewicz had seen his team rally all season and still had confidence.
“We were looking for that first goal because I think that would have changed momentum, but we just couldn’t get it,” added Harackiewicz. “We got too many penalties, that didn’t help things in the third period.”
Masuk added two more in the third period, taking a commanding 6-2 lead midway through the third on a Scalia’s third goal before Newington’s Josh Grimm scored late in regulation.
“We couldn’t get back on track and Masuk played a good game,” added Harackiewicz. “[Masuk] only lost one game all year and they hadn’t lost to any D3 teams. We knew this was going to be a tough game.”
It marked the final game for 11 seniors that helped make up the co-op team featuring players from Newington, Cromwell, Berlin, Manchester, and Canton.
Harackiewicz stated that the departing seniors have meant “everything” to a program.
“They have set the bar high,” added Harackiewicz, who noted last year’s state championship win and the conference title this season. “Those are great accomplishments; those are championships.”
Ranger, an all-state player from Cromwell, is one of those seniors that left a major mark on the program.
He was a finalist for the Division III Skater of the Year after what proved to be a monumental year in which he tallied his 100th career point.
“It has been great playing for this team the last four years. It has been some of the most fun I have ever had playing hockey,” stated Ranger, who was selected for the team’s Top Gun Award. “One thing that I am going to miss is playing with fans because they truly create a memorable experience and atmosphere in high school, whether they are routing for you or against you. Being able to play in front of fans is one thing, but in high school you are playing in front of your friends and family, which is a greater feeling.”
Ranger tallied his 100th point and scored the game-winning goal during the team’s come-from-behind win over Rocky Hill’s co-op in the Division III semifinal round on March 13.
The Nor’easters trailed the Terriers 2-0 in the third period before tallying three goals in the final frame to advance to a
second straight championship game.
It was one of several games this season that the Nor’easters rallied to defeat an opponent.
In a game against Glastonbury on Feb. 22, the Nor’easters scored a pair of late goals, including a game-winner from Grimm at the horn to rally to defeat the Guardians 5-4.
Senior Evan Howard (Canton) was selected as a first-team all-state and had a night to remember, netting a hat trick, in the team’s conference-clinching 5-3 victory over Conard on March 3.
Howard was also selected as the Division III Defenseman of the Year, leading a unit that helped senior goalie Jeremy Wagner (Manchester) protect the net.
For his efforts this season, Wagner was named the Division III Goalie of the Year.
Evan Oliver, a senior from Newington, was named as the team’s Hobey Baker Award Winner, and senior Mikey Deegan (Berlin) received the team’s Scholar Athlete Award.
The seniors all played a big part in the team’s championship victory last March, a 3-1 win over Conard, to win the program’s first title since 2013.
Harackiewicz said it will be a tall task to replace so many influential seniors; however he noted that players like Petronio, Thomas, David Andrews, and Mason Buckley will lead a talented group coming back, adding, “The younger guys will have to get some experience and step up.”
For Ranger, the state and conference titles, along with his 100 career points, have all added up to a memorable time on the local ice.
“I will also miss my teammates that I have been playing with throughout these four years,” added Ranger. “I have built great memories with them and I have shared once in a lifetime experiences with them that I will never forget.”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin