West Hartford’s Conard High School boys hockey team defeated the Brookfield-Bethel-Danbury co-op Monday night earning a spot in the CIAC Division III finals.
By Ronni Newton
It’s been more than a quarter century since the Conard High School boys hockey team played in the finals of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference tournament, and 26 years after bringing the banner home to West Hartford, the team punched their ticket to the finals with a 2-1 win over the Brookfield-Bethel-Danbury (BBD) co-op team Monday night at the Northford Ice Arena in North Branford.
The win for Conard was sealed with just 1:43 left to play in the third period, when sophomore Nick Paolitto’s shot was deflected by senior Brian Fehl past BBD goalie Louie Alfidi and into the net.
Conard sophomore Tyler West broke a 0-0 tie with a goal in the second period, assisted by John Wenz. Before the second period ended, however, BBD’s Kenny Granacker tied it back up with a breakaway goal, GametimeCT reported.
Monday’s victory was the third upset win in a row for Conard (12-9-2). En route to the finals, the No. 9 seed, Conard beat No. 8 Tri-Town on March 7, 4-1, and on March 10, in a thrilling overtime win, defeated No. 1 seed E.O. Smith.
When the Chieftains last reached the CIAC finals, in 1996, they won the championship. At the time they were in Division II, and while they returned to the semifinals in 2018, a few losing seasons resulted in the team dropping to Division III.
Conard will travel to the People’s United Center at Quinnipiac University for the Division III finals on March 17, where they will face No. 2 seed Newington (20-3-0). That game begins at 6:30 p.m.
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