The East Haven boys’ ice hockey team continued its blazing start to the season by posting an 11-1 blowout in Milford last week. Through their first eight games, the Yellowjackets own a record of 8-0 and have already clinched their spot in the Division II State Tournament.
“We started slow last year and finished strong, making it all the way to Ingalls Rink [for the state semifinals], and it’s carried over to this year,” said Head Coach Lou Pane. “We’re fortunate enough to have new guys like Nick Capone and Jake Aloi, who have made our team complete.”
Pane was pleased to see his team qualify for states so quickly this winter. The coach knows that any victory the Easties post from this point forward will help them get a higher seed in the postseason.
“It’s nice to qualify for the tournament in just eight games and being the first team in Division II, so it’s something we’re proud of,” he said. “Hopefully, we keep building on that. We have to keep winning because we want to finish as the No. 1 seed in Division II, which is big as it gives us a big advantage in the first round.”
The Yellowjackets feature three captains, as well as two alternate captains, at the leadership helm this season. Joe Aloi, Matt Latella, and Joe Lorello are the captains, while fellow seniors Mike Dogolo and Ryan Albert and serving as alternate captains for Coach Pane’s squad.
“Our captains are very good and lead by example. Joe Aloi, who was an All-League player last year, as well as getting All-State honors, he leads by example and continues to do that. Joe Lorello, who is our other captain, and Matt Latella on the defensive side, who is our team’s best defenseman, leads by his work ethic. Those three, along with Dogolo and Albert, all have good chemistry,” Pane said. “The young guys see them working hard and try to work harder than they do. Any time you have some good senior leadership and you mix those in with some freshman that can step in and play, it gives you good balance and a strong roster.”
Prolific offense has been key to the Yellowjackets’ success this season as they’ve scored 67 goals in their eight games.
“Offensively, things have been clicking. Our offensive capability has been pole vaulted and to average eight goals a game with a power play at just about 60 percent is unheard of. Offensively, we’ve been exceptional. Hopefully, we keep it going,” Pane said. “I think teams that go offensively go with a lot of rhythm and things need to click to make it go. I couldn’t ask for more than what our team has been doing. When you have eight games that we’ve played and we’ve scored 67 goals in those eight games, you’re tough to beat.”
Along with the high-flying offense, the Yellowjackets’ defensive effort and goaltending have also been exceptional this season. East Haven is rotating junior Matt Twarowski and freshman Logan Hamilton in net and has only allowed 15 goals thus far.
“Defensively, we’re giving up just less than two goals per game,” Pane said. “Those are the type of teams that can win championships.”
On Jan. 21, East Haven defeated SCC/SWC Division II foe Milford by an 11-1 final to clinch its berth in states. The Easties scored nine goals in the first two periods as the outcome was never in doubt.
“It’s been what’s been working all year. We seem to come out fast in the first period, which puts teams on their heels,” Pane said. “It was 4-0 after one and, when you can get teams down that early, it takes a lot of steam out. The motivation from us carries over to the second, where we scored five to make it 9-0 after two and, at that point, it’s pretty much over. At that point, you’re able to get the third and fourth lines more ice time.”
Capone, a freshman who has 16 goals with 17 assists, recorded a hat trick by scoring twice in the first period and once more in the second against Milford. Dogolo and Lorello also netted goals in the first period, while Joe Aloi, Jon Moscato, Zach Paquin, and Mani Finola all scored in the second. Joe Aloi and Joe Consiglio rounded out the scoring in the third period for East Haven, which saw Twarowski make 20 saves in net. Paquin and Latella both had three assists in the win, plus Consigilo and Chris Teto each finished with two.
“We played the third with mostly the third and fourth lines, which gives them great game experience, and they’re getting better,” Coach Pane said. “They scored three goals, so you can see we’re getting production from them, which makes us that much stronger. Because of how they’ve played, we can give our first and second lines a bit of a rest, which has been really helpful.”