Whether Senior Nights are a large distraction or incentive builders has been a debatable subject since high school sports teams have held them.
The Staples/Weston/Shelton co-op boys hockey team honored six upperclassmen Saturday night before a boisterous crowd at the Milford Ice Pavilion.
Everything went well, as those six seniors — starting goalie William Englehart, first-line forward Eric Zurmuehle along with J.P. McNicholas, Dan Greenberg, Matt Weisgerber and back-up goalie Craig Gelman — were recognized before the team’s FCIAC Division III match-up with Westhill of Stamford.
Once the puck dropped, however, it turned out to be a less-than-average night, according to Wreckers’ coach Todd Sharinn, as his team lost a 2-1 decision and saw its record drop to 7-6-1.
“Fundamentally, this wasn’t one of our better games,” said Sharinn, who worked as an assistant at Westhill before taking the Wreckers’ job last December.
“Maybe our guys were distracted by Senior Night. Maybe their emotions were running a little too high.
“I’m not sure. What I do know is we’ve accomplished a lot in a short period of time. And these kids have done it through hard work.”
The Wreckers got a first-period power-play goal from Zurmuehle, on an assist from Derek Nussbaum, at 11:54. The goal evened the game at 1-1, after Szczepan Misiak gave the Vikings a 1-0 lead at 8:06.
Westhill caught SWS with an odd-man rush. Neal Smolinski fed Misiak the puck and the Vikings’ first-line forward beat Englehart from in close.
The Vikings spent eight minutes playing down a player after drawing four first-period penalties.
The Wreckers never scored again despite taking 28 shots at Westhill goalie Chris Compolattaro.
It was Smolenski’s unassisted goal at 9:36 of the second period which gave the Vikings’ a 2-1 lead. They protected that margin for the rest of the game.
The Wreckers got only three shots on goal in the middle session, but they put 11 on net in the final 15 minutes. However, an errant pass on a 2-on-0 break late in the game cost them a chance to tie the game up.
The Wreckers were only able to convert on one of six power-play opportunities. They gave up 25 shots as Englehart made 23 saves. Compolattaro stopped 27 shots for Westhill.
“Our kids can take this game one of two ways,” Sharinn said. “It can become a meaningless game, or it can be a meaningful game. I’m hoping that they take a positive approach from here on out.”
The Wreckers play Fairfield Warde-Ludlowe tonight at 8 at the Milford Ice Pavilion and play host to Trinity Catholic of Stamford at 3 p.m. on Saturday. Both the Mustangs and Crusaders are FCIAC Division II teams.
“I think we’re all right in the Division III standings (the Wreckers were fifth as of Monday),” Sharinn said. “We’re in the race. We’ll be in the playoffs.”