NORTHFORD — The payback came heavy and the payback came hard.
The payback belonged to the Sheehan hockey team.
Two second-period goals by Luke Festa busted a 1-1 tie and two third-period strikes by Joey Richo slammed the door as the Titans beat the rival Lyman Hall Co-op 5-1 on Saturday night at the Northford Ice Pavilion.
“Sheehan played awesome throughout the game,” said LH coach Rich Minnix. “They dominated all three periods and all three zones of hockey. They were definitely the more superior team tonight.”
It was that straightforward. The victory was the fourth straight for the 13-4-1 Titans and it avenged a 3-0 loss suffered to the Trojans at Wesleyan on Jan. 26.
“I think this was a good comeback win for us; I think we played a complete game tonight,” said Sheehan coach Dave Festa. “We were dictating the play across the board. Our defense played a fantastic game for us and everyone was contributing, so it was definitely a good win for us tonight.”
The Lyman Hall Co-op (12-6-0) did remain at No. 2 in the CIAC Division III playoff points, one slot ahead of No. 3 Sheehan. But Saturday’s loss was the third straight for the suddenly scuffling Trojans, who looked to end the skid on Sunday night against JBWA.
“At the end of the day, it’s a loss. It’s another L in the loss column and we’re getting to the nitty gritty here with the state tournament and SCCs,” said Minnix. “We’ve got to wake up tomorrow and play another one.”
The first period was fairly even between the two rivals. Both sides managed to get shots on goal. Goaltenders Tyler Robertson of Sheehan and Andrew Sacco of the Co-op made the saves to keep the game scoreless.
With less than two minutes to go in the first period, Sheehan struck first. Anthony Romano put the puck in the back of the net to give the Titians a 1-0 lead to close out the first period of play.
The Trojans tied it up early in the second period, as Kyle Roberts smacked home a slap shot to even the score at 1-1.
The tie was shortlived. Luke Festa, with about five minutes left in the second period, snuck a shot past Sacco amid chaos around the net for a 2-1 Sheehan lead.
Three minutes later, Festa was in the right place at the right time, deflecting in a shot on the power play to extend the advantage to 3-1 heading into the final period.
“The first goal was just a scramble,” Festa said. “I got stopped once and then the third shot I was able to put it home on him.”
Sheehan continued to control the game in the third period. On defense, the Titans played physical and kept the dangerous Trojans’ attack from getting clean looks on net. When they did get off shots, Robertson held his own, deflecting everything that came his way.
Offensively, the third period belonged to Joey Richo. The Sheehan sophomore was all over the ice and put the game out of reach with two goals in the opening minutes.
“The whole game was just so much fun and I thought the goals were even better,” Richo said. “I mean, this is my first two-goal game, so I’m pretty excited about that, but winning the game in general was great.
“The first one was a wraparound. I don’t think anyone saw it because it was really quick and it went off his skate and went in. The second one, I just came down and put it on my backhand.”
“We played a complete game tonight against our rivals,” said Luke Festa. “It was big to come out and get two goals early in third period and put them away.”
Saturday night stood in marked contrast to first meeting, when the Trojans deal the Titans their lone shutout of the season.
Said Coach Festa, “We changed our systems a little bit this time, but I think the biggest thing was talking about having the heart with these guys and really winning the puck battles in each of the zones.”
Cheshire 3, Amity 2 (OT): Joey DeLucia’s goal with 2:48 left in overtime lifted the Rams over the Spartans in a Division II game at Wesleyan.
It was the fourth straight win for Cheshire (12-4-1), which moved up to No. 4 in the D-II playoff points.
DeLucia’s game-winner was set up by Niklas Vasiljevs, who had staked Cheshire to a 1-0 lead in the first period.
Amity took a 2-1 edge with two goals in the opening 2½ minutes of the second period.
Cheshire’s equalizer came in the third period on the power play. Defenseman James Ilnicki scored it off assists from Ben O’Connor and Aidan Gaudet.
O’Connor added an assist on DeLucia’s winner. Kyle Sheehan and Hunter Olson were the set-up men on the Vasiljevs goal in the first.
The Rams, 7-1-1 in their last nine, look to keep the good times rolling on Monday night at Avon Old Farms, where they take on defending Division II champ Farmington Valley at 8 p.m.
Hall-Southington 2, Northeastern 2: The Warrior-Knights let a 2-0 lead get away in this crossover draw at the Bolton Ice Palace.
Northeastern can thank goalie Nick Miranda, who made 41 saves as Hall-Southington out-shot the host team 43-19.
Second-period goals by Mike DiPietro and Mason Woods had Hall-Southington in command until Northeastern cut the gap in half before the frame was out.
The equalizer came with 10:39 left in regulation.
Nate Zmarlicki and Sam Kerrigan had assists for Division II Hall-Southington, which moved to 5-11-2. Division III Northeastern is 4-13-1.