For the Indians’ boys’ ice hockey squad, its first meeting with Hand on Jan. 5 saw a hard-fought classic in which Guilford tied the game with 33 seconds remaining in regulation before the Tigers took the contest in overtime. While the Indians have not lost a contest since, they were set out on a mission to win in the Jan. 18 rematch on the road.
After the loss to Hand, Guilford rebounded with a win over Farmington/Avon/Windsor and then later tied SCC foe Branford. Sitting almost even with a 3-3-2 mark and ready to begin another postseason push to the Division II state final, the Indians skated to the first step and evened the score thanks to a 3-2 overtime victory, a game that saw Guilford down 2-0 after two periods of play.
“It felt so great to do it, especially being captain, and it being senior year,” said senior defenseman Ryan Moore, who netted the game-winner in overtime. “We lost to them in overtime a couple weeks ago, so it feels great to get the win. This can definitely be the win that starts to turn things around this season.”
In the win, Guilford took 38 shots at Hand junior goalie Chase Briggs, who made 35 stops. On the other side, the Tigers would earn 21 shots for the contest as Guilford freshman net minder Brandon Maio made 19 saves.
As the puck dropped on round two behind the backdrop of two passionate student fan sections, Hand (5-4-2, 2-2 in SCC) started out with a shot at Maio and the Guilford (4-3-2, 1-1-1 in SCC) net. The Indians would respond with an offensive attack of their own, and nearly scored on a shot off the left post that was thought to be in the net about three minutes into the contest. With 9:20 left, Guilford had a 2-on-1 attack, but could not convert it into a tally. They followed it up with a slew of shots at Briggs, yet none of them would fall through again for the visitors. Hand would find itself defending a Guilford power play when junior forward Dan Braumann was called for hooking at 6:11. Briggs would face pressure, yet he and the Tigers would kill the Guilford advantage. In the final five, both teams would exchange chances at the other’s zone, but it would all be for naught as it was a scoreless draw after one period.
In the second, Guilford would be the one to strike first with a shot at a goal, but sophomore forward Matt Horton was called for a penalty following the shot. With its first power play, Hand would find itself with a 5-on-3 following another Guilford penalty. The Tigers would take advantage and claw through with a goal at 12:33 by sophomore forward Ben Solin, assisted by Braumann. Hand would grab another goal 27 ticks later as senior forward Ryan Bell rang for another Tigers’ tally off a helper from Solin. Guilford’s freshman defender William Dacey would try to snipe a shot, yet was called for a penalty. On another power play, Hand faced heat from the shorthanded squad before coming away empty-handed. With 4:49 left, Solin would be called for a penalty to give Guilford a second chance to capitalize on a man-advantage. It would be short lived as senior defenseman Zach Cattaruzza was also called for a tripping foul seconds later. While neither team would score during the penalty time, Guilford would give Briggs big shots in the final two minutes, but he was able to turn them away and lead to a two-goal Hand lead after two.
As the final frame began, the Indians would again take the initiative and pressure Briggs early. Guilford would also get an early power play after an elbowing call against junior forward Dan Healey at 11:30. Despite spending much of it in the Hand zone, Guilford came away with nothing to show for the 5-on-4. The Tigers would keep trying for insurance, but Maio and the Guilford defense kept denying the requests. Senior defenseman Will Lavin would be called for elbowing to set up another man-up Indians’ attack, but Horton would be put in the box on his own elbowing foul. Seconds later, Guilford climbed back in as senior defenseman Ryan Moore scored with 6:04 to play to make it a 2-1 contest. Freshman forward Sam LaFontaine was called for holding to set up another Indians’ advantage, but could not find the equalizer. Guilford would gain another chance when senior forward Brendan Kelly was tacked for a penalty, yet squandered the chance with one minute remaining. With 21 ticks left and a faceoff in the Hand zone, Guilford brought the puck into the net for the tie thanks to Horton in traffic and sent the game to an extra session.
In overtime, both teams traded jabs at the chance for a winner, yet it was not to be in the early going. Midway through, Hand would bring the pressure with an extended stay in the Guilford zone, but to no avail. The Indians would do the same on multiple shots, including one that slid across the front of Briggs’ net. With 43 seconds left, Guilford earned a power play on a bench minor assessed to Hand when Coach Ryan Hardy argued an icing call. Moore then brought home the winner on a shot from the point for the Indians’ win with 32 seconds to spare.