Till Delivers Just In Time For EO Smith-Tolland | High school sports
CROMWELL – EO Smith / Tolland boys hockey co-op put Damian Till on the ice as part of his power play unit with 56 seconds left and his opener against Rocky Hill / Middletown / Plainville / HK is tied for two.
The junior carved out space in front of Rocky Hill Co-op goaltender Aaron McLeod and looked for a loose puck to put in the back of the net.
He wouldn’t have to wait long for an opportunity.
Braiden George unleashed a shot from the point with less than ten seconds remaining which McLeod saved but couldn’t block, leading to a scramble in front of the net.
Till won the puck battle and passed McLeod with 2.6 seconds remaining to propel EO Smith / Tolland to a 3-2 victory in Wednesday’s CCC South game at Champions Skating Rink.
“I said to the others, ‘put it on the net, and I’ll do the rest of the work,” Till said. “Braiden shot and I was in front of the net in my power play position and flipped him through the five holes.
Quentin Wry and Cole Schoen added a goal apiece for the Bucks (1-0), who host South Windsor at UConn’s Freitas Ice Forum on Saturday at 1:45 p.m. Keegan Hodgkinson and Luke Ruchalski each provided an assist.
“Damian is camping in the low end, he’s natural there,” said EO Smith / Tolland coach John Hodgson. “He goes to the net and puts his stick to work. He did it in practice and during the preseason and it made sense that he was the one coming out of the scrimmage with the puck.
Jacob Nelson and Jeff Thebeau each scored a goal to punctuate the Rocky Hill cooperative (0-1). Conor Konopka, Brody Davidson and Chase McNamara each added an assist.
The EO Smith / Tolland program does not have a junior varsity team, so Till played on a U-14 youth team at South Windsor as a freshman in 2019-20.
The Bucks finished 6-13-1 in 19-20 but decided to withdraw from the Division II State tournament, which was canceled after the first round due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Till has chosen not to participate in the 2020-21 season due to COVID concerns. The Bucks played a shortened 14-game season starting in February. State tournaments did not take place due to the pandemic.
Nelson gave Rocky Hill Co-op a 1-0 lead with 13:50 left in the second period. Thebeau doubled the hosts’ advantage with 5:25 left.
Wry reduced the Bucks deficit to one with a right circle wrist shot 1:25 later. Schoen tapped a loose puck in front of the net to tie the score two with 2:12 remaining, setting the stage for Till’s heroism in the dying seconds of the game.
“They jumped on us and when they scored the second (goal) you could see our guys chickening out,” “But it was way too early for that. I told them, ‘keep playing.’ They put it together and got the two back. These guys have confidence and high expectations. We have 11 seniors and they expect to compete for our league and make noise in the state tournament. When they go for it and own the puck, good things happen.
EO SMITH / TOLLAND 0 2 1 – 3
ROCKY HILL COOPERATIVE 0 2 0 – 2
First period: No rating.
Second period: 1. RH – Jacob Nelson (Conor Konopka, Brody Davidson), 13:50; 2. HR – Jeff Thebeau (Chase McNamara), 5:25; 3. EOT – Quentin Wry (Keegan Hodgkinson), 4:00 p.m.; 4. EOT – Cole Schoen (Luke Ruchalski), 2:12.
Third period: 5. EOT – Damian Till (Braiden George), 0:02.
Goalkeepers: EOT – Dan Polgun (17); HR – Aaron McLeod (20).
STORM 2, AVON / SOUTHINGTON 2 (OT). Maren Riley made 40 saves as the Storm faced off against the Nighthawks in the CCC game at Newington Ice Arena.
It was the second draw in as many games for the Storm (0-0-2), which is made up of East Catholic, Glastonbury, South Windsor, Rockville and Tolland.
Maddie Arachambault and Meghan Croyle both scored in the third period to give the Storm a 2-0 lead. But Avon / Southington (1-1-1) equalized thanks to empty goals from late Nicole Partridge and Shelby Little.
Sophia Ojala finished with 15 saves for the Nighthawks.
The Storm returns to action on Saturday when they travel to the Enfield Twin Rinks to play at the Suffield Co-op.
STORM 0 0 2 0 – 2
AVON / SOUTH. 0 0 2 0 – 2
Objectives: S – Maddie Archambault, Meghan Croyle. LIKE – Nicole Partridge, Shelby Little.
Goalkeepers: S – Maren Riley (40 stops); LIKE – Sophia Ojala (15 stops).