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03/20/2022 12:00 AM

Coach Pane Proud of Easties’ Efforts on the Ice

Senior captain Ethan Roach and the East Haven co-op boys’ ice hockey team enjoyed a solid season that saw the Yellowjackets win 10 games and continue their long-standing tradition of making states. File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier

Going into the 2022 season, one of the main goals for East Haven co-op ice hockey Head Coach Lou Pane was for the Yellowjackets to qualify for the Division II State Tournament. With strong leadership, a standout freshman on offense, and an overall solid defensive corps, the Easties achieved their goal by making states for the 35th-straight time this winter.

In addition to East Haven players, the Yellowjackets’ co-op squad features athletes who attend East Hampton, Morgan, Old Lyme, and Valley Regional high schools. When all was said and done, Coach Pane’s club finished its season with an overall record of 10-10-1 after taking a 4-1 loss to Farmington Valley in the first round of the Division II State Tournament.

“The boys worked hard. We were competitive in every game,” Pane said. “You ask for them to get better, and they did. We had some nice individual accomplishments. They never stopped working all season. They worked hard to improve.”

East Haven qualified for states by posting a regular-season record of 10-9-1. Coach Pane said that Yellowjackets’ contests against Lyman Hall and North Haven were two of the team’s standout games from the regular season.

East Haven lost both games by taking a 2-1 defeat to Lyman Hall and a 5-2 loss against North Haven. However, considering that those are two of the top squads in the state’s Division II ranks, Coach Pane was impressed with his team’s willingness to battle its hardest no matter the opponent.

Following the regular season, East Haven entered the Division II State Tournament as the No. 12 seed and played an away game against No. 5 seed Farmington Valley in the first round. The Yellowjackets took a 4-1 loss in the game with Old Lyme sophomore Griffin McGlinchey scoring the team’s lone goal of the contest. Despite the defeat, Coach Pane was proud to see his team go toe-to-toe with one of Connecticut’s top squads and, just like in the regular season, he was enthused with the grit that the Easties displayed until the very end.

“We played a good Farmington Valley team that beat Lyman Hall and North Haven. It was a nothing-nothing game after the first period. We outshot them. Unfortunately, they jumped on us in the second,” said Pane. “It was a good battle all the way through. We competed at a high level and, unfortunately, we got the short end of the stick, but you want to compete against the best teams in the state.”

On offense, the Yellowjackets had six players reach a double-digit point totals this season. East Haven freshman Gennaro Pompano led the charge with 29 goals and 24 assists on his way to making the All-SCC/SWC Division II First Team in his debut campaign. McGlinchey was next in line by scoring 13 goals to go with 13 assists on the year.

Senior captain Parker Sprankle of Old Lyme had 11 goals and 8 assists this season, while East Haven sophomore Michael Savo netted 9 goals to go with 8 assists. East Hampton senior Josh Berg posted 10 goals with 6 assists, and junior Nicholas Ruggiero of East Hampton finished the year with 6 goals and 7 assists.

Even with all the weapons on offense, Coach Pane felt that East Haven’s defensive intensity also played a major role in the Yellowjackets’ success this year. With senior captain Ethan Roach of East Haven playing goalie, the Yellowjackets were further bolstered by defensemen like Tyler Weinzimmer of Morgan and Valley sophomore William Fleischer, both of whom did an excellent job of limiting the opposition’s second chances and keeping the team in games.

“We were able to keep our goals against down, which really helped us stay in hockey games,” Pane said. “We had a great goalie in Ethan Roach and did a great job defensively, not allowing second or third chances. It’s an important factor in winning games.”

This year, the Yellowjackets were guided by a senior class of five athletes that was led by the captains, who are Roach, Sprankle, and East Haven’s Michael Robert, a defenseman. The two other seniors on the team are Berg and Ryan Sheldon of East Haven. Coach Pane said that all five of the seniors always pushed themselves on the ice and served as ideal role models for the returning cast of Yellowjackets.

“This class did a great job showing their leadership. This class played each game their hardest,” Pane said. “They set a great example for the underclassmen to really look up to. It’s something that’ll carry forward into next year.”

With so many players returning, Coach Pane is hoping that next season’s edition of the Easties realizes how challenging it can be to succeed at the Division II level. Pane said that the Yellowjackets plan on gaining valuable experience during the offseason and will be looking to come back even stronger in 2023.

“You have to work hard at this game. Whatever you put into it is what you’ll get out,” said Pane. “It takes some work in the offseason to get yourself better and compete at the highest level. We’ll play together in the spring, summer, and fall and get ready for next season.”

The East Haven co-op boys’ ice hockey roster team’s roster features senior captains Ethan Roach (East Haven), Michael Robert (East Haven), and Parker Sprankle (Old Lyme); fellow seniors Josh Berg (East Hampton) and Ryan Sheldon (East Haven); juniors Alan Schroeter (East Haven), Nicholas Ruggiero (East Hampton), Tyler Weinzimmer (Morgan), Giuseppe Monaco (East Haven), Joseph Vocatura (East Haven), Matt Penn (East Hampton), Jon-Paul Garea (East Haven), Evan Giovanelli (East Hampton), and Dylan Ingram (Valley Regional); sophomores Robert Testa (East Haven), Michael Savo (East Haven), William Fleischer (Valley Regional), Josh Salvati (East Haven), Griffin McGlinchey (Old Lyme), John D’Albero (East Haven), and Dominic Perillo (East Haven); as well as freshmen Christopher Anderson (Old Lyme), Ben Frazier (Old Lyme), Dilan Robert (East Haven), Cameron LaCroix (East Haven), Gennaro Pompano (East Haven), and William Demetriades (East Haven).

Freshman Gennaro Pompano made a great debut for Easties by recording 53 points on his way to a spot on the All-SCC/SWC Division II First Team this winter. File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier
Sophomore Michael Savo is one of several underclassmen who gained valuable experience for the East Haven co-op hockey squad this year and will be looking to lead the team to greater heights next season. File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier