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Junior Michael Torre and the Guilford boys’ hockey squad played their first two games of the season last week following a three-week quarantine. The Grizzlies took a pair of defeats against Watertown-Pomperaug, losing by final scores of 10-2 and 3-1. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Senior Thomas Ring and the Grizzlies are going to try to make up for lost time by playing several games this week after the team had to sit out for three weeks due to potential exposure to COVID-19. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Junior Thomas Ziemba had an assist on Michael Torre’s goal when Guilford took a 3-1 defeat to Watertown-Pomperaug on March 6. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Sophomore Will Petrick is one of the up-and-coming players on a young Grizzlies’ club that’s excited to be back on the ice this winter. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
It wasn’t exactly the start that the Guilford boys’ hockey team was looking for in its first two games of the season, but the Grizzlies still feel ecstatic to be back on the ice following a three-week quarantine.
On Feb. 14, as its season was about to get underway, Guilford received the news that a number of players and coaches on the squad had been potentially exposed to COVID-19. Consequently, the Grizzlies’ season came to a screeching halt before it even had a chance to begin as the team went into quarantine.
After sitting out for a few weeks, the Grizzlies finally opened their 2021 campaign by playing a home game versus Watertown-Pomperaug (W-P) at Bennett Rink in West Haven on March 4, taking a 10-2 defeat. Two days later, Guilford had a chance to exact revenge against W-P and, although the Grizzlies lost the game, it was a much-closer contest that saw W-P win a 3-1 decision.
Despite the two losses, Head Coach Ralph Russo was proud of the effort that his players displayed coming off of their three-week hiatus.
“Coming back after a long layoff and opening up against a team with five games played was quite a challenge. However, despite losing our second game against the same opponent, we showed a lot of resilience in 48 hours,” said Russo. “The players are very excited to keep playing and competing.”
Junior forward Michael Torre and sophomore forward William Petrick both scored an unassisted goal in Guilford’s season-opening defeat. Torre also scored the Grizzlies’ lone goal of the game in their rematch with W-P. Junior forward Thomas Ziemba and sophomore defender Shane Considine had the assists on the score. Junior goalkeeper Gavyn Litvyn made 12 saves in net for Guilford.
Coach Russo felt that the Grizzlies put forth a better performance in their second game against W-P, resulting in a more competitive matchup.
“It was great to get the team on the ice for our first game. We were excited, but not very consistent against an opponent with a five-game head start. The result showed in a 10-2 loss. We were not sharp offensively, and we didn’t execute much team defense,” Russo said. “Our second game was a much-better effort against the same opponent. We outshot and pressured them in the second and third periods. Unfortunately, we could only muster one goal and lost 3-1. No one likes to lose a game, but we feel like we made a lot of progress in a couple of days.”
Several athletes on the Grizzlies’ roster have impressed Coach Russo with their dedication to the game, including senior captain defenseman Steven Tortora and senior forward Thomas Ring, in addition to junior forward Torre and junior goalie Litvyn. Russo believes that his young team has an abundance of potential and is only going to get better throughout its shortened season. The Grizzlies have a busy stretch on the way and are scheduled to play games against Cheshire, Branford, North Branford, Lyman Hall, and Hand between March 10 and Tuesday, March 16.
“Michael Torre has scored in each game. Thomas Ring has been ‘Mr. Hustle,’ all over the ice. Captain Steve Tortora has been anchoring our defense,” said Russo. “Additionally, goalie Gavyn Litvyn has probably had the biggest challenge in coming off the break. Goalies love live game action, and he hasn’t been able to have that for almost a year. Our team defense didn’t help him out that much in game one, but he came back in game two to show he is a very capable competitor. With continued effort like I saw [in the second game against W-P], we are going to keep improving.”
Guilford’s roster for the 2021 season includes senior captain defender Steven Tortora; senior forwards Zach Sperry, Thomas Ring, and Kent Mackowiak; junior goalie Gavyn Litvyn; junior defenders Thomas Booth and James Murray; junior forwards Thomas Ziemba and Michael Torre; sophomore defenders Shane Considine, Ryan McMahon, Sean Melvin, and Mitchell Ward; sophomore forwards Gabe Mongelli, Sam Mackowiak, William Petrick, and Leo Herman; sophomore goalie Eric Lawton; and freshman forwards Ben Markowski, Connor MacKenzie, Jacob Corso, Nate Dean, and Logan Bertrand.