Wethersfield shuts out North Haven in Division II boys hockey final as Matt Ruck makes 22 saves

HAMDEN — The sophomore goalie is a humble kid, Wethersfield boys hockey coach Dennis Tulimieri said after Matt Ruck shut out a team that had won 21 games in a row in the CIAC Division II final.

Naturally, Ruck wanted to talk more about the guys in front of him after his 22 saves helped defeat North Haven 3-0 Monday night at Quinnipiac’s Perrotti Arena, winning his school’s second CIAC championship.

“My defense just played great. They didn’t let up many breakaways — any breakaways,” Ruck said. “They had a good game. They had my back the whole game. They cleared out the puck in front of the net. They just allowed me to make saves. They played awesome.”

Will McCarter had a goal and an assist for third-seeded Wethersfield (18-6-2), and goals from Jack Millen and Colby Quinn in the second period broke the ice in a game that had been scoreless halfway through.

“They were a better team than we were, just a better team,” North Haven coach Chris Avena said.

“They bottled up the front of the net. We couldn’t get anyone free, and when we did, the kid made some really good saves when we had some pressure. They were just better than we were.”

Wethersfield won the 2007 Division III tournament as a Division II school in the last of two seasons in which teams could be seeded down for the playoffs. It had also reached the Division II final in 1986.

Top-seeded North Haven, ranked ninth in the GameTimeCT Top 10 Poll, finished 23-3-0. The Nighthawks were playing in the school’s first championship game since it won in 2004. Their winning streak included a 4-1 victory over Wethersfield to end the regular season.

Tulimieri said the Eagles saw some things they could fix from that game.

“We put a note on the board that said ‘30 feet,’” Tulimieri said. “If our season’s way long, we’ve got 30 more feet to go. When you’re forechecking, when you’re playing in the defensive zone, you sprint that 30 feet. You don’t let it get away from you.”

Ruck made a glove save on North Haven’s Jake Hines in the slot midway through the second period to keep the game scoreless. About 30 seconds later, Millen scored on a rebound.

“Just standing right in front of the net,” Millen said. “It came right to me, wide-open net, put it in, went right to the student section. It was amazing.”

Quinn scored off Shane Mazur’s end-to-end power-play rush about six minutes later, and McCarter scored on a late-third-period power play after North Haven was caught with too many men, a miscommunication trying to get goalie Jared Anderson off for an extra attacker with two minutes left.

Avena said the Nighthawks hadn’t had to do that all year.

Then again, Ruck didn’t give them much when his defense gave them anything.

“He’s great. He played out of his mind today, and he deserves it, for sure,” Millen said.


Matt Ruck, Wethersfield: Sophomore made 22 saves and earned a shutout in the biggest game of the year.


North Haven’s 23 wins were the most for a CIAC team in five years. The Nighthawks won the SCC/SWC Division II championship for the second year in a row.

“I think we’ll hang our hat on that,” Avena said. “We’ll hang our hat on the fact that we came really close. It’ll leave a little bitter taste in our mouth, and we do return a good core of kids even though we graduate seven.

“Hopefully we remember this feeling come that last Monday in November,” the first day of practice for 2022-23, he added. “It’s a long road to get back here, but that’s going to be the goal for us when we start the season next year.”


“(It’s) a little nerve-wracking, having that many seniors playing and being a sophomore. It can be hard. I never let that get to me.” —Ruck

mfornabaio@ctpost.com; @fornabaioctp




Records: Wethersfield 18-6-2; North Haven 23-3-0. Goals: W—Jack Millen, Colby Quinn, Will McCarter. Assists: W—Thomas Mayfield 2, McCarter, Shane Mazur, Jay Socha. Goalies: W—Matt Ruck (22 saves); NH—Jared Anderson (23). Shots: W—26; NH—22.