Saturday, March 8, 2008

3-8-08: High School Championship

Congratulations to the New Canaan Rams Girls Ice Hockey team in winning the state championship game this morning against Greenwich. It was a fine victory for the team and coach Rich Bulan.

The game, held at Yale's Ingalls Arena, was a closely contested match for the first period. Both teams have been among the top in the state for several years running, so it was no real surprise to see either of them playing this morning in the championship game. Led by Bulan, New Canaan has won the state title numerous times, and were the defending champions going into today's bout. Greenwich, coached by Kevin Turbert, had something to prove after a tough loss to St. Joseph's in the FCIAC tournament. New Canaan also lost to the surprising St. Joe's squad, who had been eliminated by Simsbury in the first round of the state tournament this week. New Canaan was also fatigued (or at least it was expected) after an emotional five over-time victory against Guilford in the semi-final game.

After one period the score was as close as you can get at 0-0. The two teams were going back and forth, and both goalies had been given some challenging shots to face. Sitting in the stands with my father, along with other coaches from around the state, it was clear that one team would have to break through soon if we were to avoid another five over-time game.

The second period belonged to New Canaan. After serving a penalty for tripping, star forward Maggie Burke scored on a brilliant shot after leaving the penalty box to make it 1-0. Not long after, she rifled one over the Greenwich goaltender's right shoulder to make it 2-0. It was clear that Greenwich looked to be the more fatigued team, as unexpected as that was.

The third period was close, but Greenwich simply could not break through the tough New Canaan defense. After getting a penalty late, New Canaan was faced with a 6 on 4 scenario once Greenwich pulled their goaltender late. But, after failing to get the right shot off, Greenwich gave up an empty-netter, and New Canaan sealed the deal with the 3-0 victory.

My favorite moment was at the very end, when New Canaan's head coach Rich Bulan put on some of the players that had received limited ice time during the game and season to finish the game. Both coaches deserve very high marks for wonderful seasons. But, once again, New Canaan was the victor.

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