This is a printer-friendly version of an article from Zip06.com.Article Published April 4, 2019
The most recent winter season for the East Haven-Old Lyme-Old Saybrook-East Hampton-Morgan-Valley Regional boys’ ice hockey team marked another successful campaign in the eyes of Head Coach Lou Pane as the Yellowjackets reached the state tournament for the 33rd consecutive year. East Haven finished with an overall record of 9-11-2 after seeing its season end with a 5-3 loss against Watertown-Pomperaug in the Class L State Tournament quarterfinals..
“The 33 straight playoff appearances, I’m proud to say that is a record in the state of Connecticut for high school hockey,” Pane said. “I’m proud to own that record. It’s a pure tribute to the kids we have currently and the kids that played in the past. It shows their work ethic and will to win. It’s a great feat.”
The Yellowjackets went as far as captain goaltender Logan Hamilton would take them. The junior netminder recorded a save percentage of .937 this season to go with a 2.7 goals-against average, which earned him team MVP honors, a All-SCC/SWC First Team selection, a New Haven Register All-Area First Team nod, as well as a CHSCA All-State Second Team pick.
“We’ve been very fortunate to have Logan back because your goaltender can singlehandedly win you games. This year, that’s exactly what he did,” said Pane of Hamilton, who had four shutouts this season. “We’re fortunate where we had good goaltending in the past, too, because we had Matt Twarowski, who was also First Team All-League. Then Logan didn’t miss a beat.”
This marked the second consecutive season East Haven added athletes from other schools to help fill out its roster. Of its 15 roster players, five are from out of town. Senior Ricky Persico and sophomore Andrew Persico are from Valley Regional, sophomore Ryan Egan is from Morgan, Cory Benni is from Old Saybrook, and Alec Speirs is from Old Lyme.
“I say it’s not any different from coaching at a private school who is getting kids from different towns. My vision is that player are players. Kids that come from the co-op are beautiful guys because they fit in with us and we consider us all family,” said Pane. “We couldn’t have a better group of guys come in as perfectly, and we look forward to keeping such a wonderful relationship.”
The added depth on the roster had a positive impact on the ice. Ricky Persico earned the team’s Coaches’ Award as he finished the season with 15 points (9 goals, 6 assists). Speirs, an alternate captain, was the team’s High Scoring Award recipient as he had 17 points (12 goals, 5 assists).
“Ricky really led by example. He worked as hard in practice as he did in the game and was a true pleasure to have,” Pane said. “Alec had two games with hat tricks and also had a game-winning goal.”
Senior captain Chris Giglietti earned the Yellowjackets’ Hobey Baker Award, which is earned through player sportsmanship.
It was an up-and-down season for Pane’s squad as the team came out strong out of the gate. East Haven won five of its first six games, but got a bit out of sync after the new year. The team won one game in January but played better hockey toward the end of the season.
“We got off to a great start, but coming back from Christmas break, we couldn’t get things flowing as we were early on. Once February came around, we had things come back to us, which made us effective. We started playing more of a defensive game because that was our strength,” Pane said. “It’s still a successful season because we did this with just 15 kids and injuries along the way. At one point, we had three kids out, so we were playing with 12 guys on the ice. To play at that high level with guys not really coming off the ice that much shows the character we had on our team.”
The Yellowjackets’ self-control also proved a key factor in their success this season. East Haven stayed out of the penalty box more often than its opposition.
“We were one of the most disciplined teams,” Pane said. “Probably in 90 percent of our games, we took less penalty minutes than our opponents which is critical.”
With just 15 roster players this year, Pane says he’s fortunate to have only three graduating seniors—Giglietti, Ricky Persico, and Jonathan Moscato, who was an alternate captain.
“We have a nice team returning. We’re very excited about next year’s team coming back,” Pane said. “The guys coming back are really committed, and we have a chance to do some special things next year. We have a great core of guys, and I’m sure there are going to be some new guys coming in, and we’ll welcome them into the team. Everybody is excited about next year’s team, including myself.”