Lexi Pacheco, a junior at Glastonbury High School, scored three goals as the Storm won in Bridgeport on Feb. 6.
Lexi Pacheco, a junior at Glastonbury High School, scored a career-high three goals as the Storm defeated Fairfield Ludlowe/Warde 8-1 on Feb. 6.
The Storm is a local ice hockey team that includes players from Glastonbury, East Catholic, South Windsor, Tolland, and Rockville.
It was the first time Pacheco had a hat trick in a game, scoring a pair over the first two periods and netting her third in the final period at Wonderland Ice Rink in Bridgeport.
“It felt good; it felt like I accomplished a goal,” stated Pacheco. “I set personal goals for myself each season and that is not a main one, but it’s always something that I wanted to accomplish.”
Pacheco led an explosive offensive charge that also got goals from Norah McCauliffe, Deirdre McKiernan, Lili Ficaro, and freshman Juliana Sirois, who scored her first varsity goal.
Goalie Lola Espirito-Santo earned the win in goal, saving 18 shots as the Storm earned their 12th victory this year.
Following a sophomore season in which she tallied 18 points, Pacheco has increased her production and become one of the Storms’ main offensive threats.
Storm head coach Frank Usseglio said that Pacheco showed offensive talent over her first two seasons, yet he sees a “huge difference” in both production and leadership from her this winter.
“She has been consistent every year, but her overall game has improved so much,” added Usseglio. “She plays a lot of minutes and is carrying a load for us.”
Pacheco switched club teams in the offseason, joining the Cromwell-based Wolfpack. She said the change has been beneficial.
“I’m more comfortable on the ice and I definitely feel like I improved since last year,” added Pacheco.
Her older sister, Bella Pacheco, is a senior captain on the team, starring on the defensive end.
The younger Pacheco said it’s been fun to play with her older sibling and that they have that extra connection on the ice,
adding, “We know where each other are, especially with long distances passes. We know what to expect out of each other.”
Two nights before Pacheco tallied her hat trick, Ficaro — a sophomore from South Windsor — pulled the same feat in a 7-0 win over Greenwich in Newington.
The 15 goals in back-to-back games were the most the team has had over a two-game stretch this season.
Pacheco said that, despite the team graduating some of her best friends a season ago, the chemistry on the ice has remained solid.
The team closed the week with their most impressive win of the season, defeating the reigning conference champion Southington/Avon Nighthawks 1-0 tonight at Newington Ice Arena, improving to 13-3.
Goalie Kelsey Kowal (31 saves) and the Storm defenders kept the high powered Nighthawks at bay all night.
It was the first time all season that the Nighthawks were held without a goal.
Ficaro scored the game-winning goal in overtime, with an assist from sophomore Kate McKiernan and freshman Charlie Laramee.
The goal was Ficaro’s 14th this season, which leads the team.
Usseglio said that Ficaro’s game-winner was a “laser shot” and added that both Ficaro and Pacheco are powering an offense that is just starting to reach their potential.
It was a great measuring stick game for the Storm, who lost to the Nighthawks in the Central Connecticut Conference (CCC) tourney a year ago.
With postseason play starting later this month, Usseglio said he likes how his team is performing on both ends of the ice.
“We’ve made great strides,” added Usseglio, who is in his 11th year leading the Storm. “Offensively we’re playing better than we were earlier in the year and we have been putting the puck in the net lately, but defense is our staple. We’re very mature defensively.”
The Storm play their final regular season home game this Friday, Feb. 17, welcoming Stamford/Westhill/Staples to Newington Ice Arena. Face-off is 8:30 p.m.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin