Windsor/Avon/East Granby/Farmington (WAVE) scored four times in the second period to seal a 6-1 victory over Rockville/Manchester/Stafford Wednesday night at the Savage/Johnson Rink on the Loomis-Chaffee campus.
Dan Rider set up goals by Jeff Demers and Austin Grouten early in the second period to break the game open. It was the first victory for head coach Scott Percival, who was an assistant with the WAVE last season.
“Overall, I’m just thrilled,” Percival said after the opening night victory. “This was a good win.”
The first period was slow and uninspired, despite a pair of goals by Nick Sanderson and Rider that came 23 seconds apart with just over five minutes remaining. United made it a 2-1 game with an unassisted power play goal by senior captain Angus Deane, but the WAVE was deep with talent and speed and kept United off the board the rest of the way.
“We have two solid lines that have experience and maturity and our third line is made up of freshmen and sophomores. And we actually have two more lines,” Percival said.
Kyle Krajick made 11 saves over the first two periods for the WAVE, while Tyler Bailey shut the visitors out in the third period with five saves. United goalkeeper Matt Roy saw a lot of rubber and was outstanding in defeat, turning back 22 of 28 shots.
“We held our own in the first period,” United head coach Christian Stevenson said. “But they had a lot more horses.”
Dan Quirk finished off the scoring with a pair of second period goals on assists from AJ Georger and Mason Backus.
“Danny Quirk is sophomore and a very strong player for us from Farmington, a very smart player and Rider is a complete player,” said Percival, who is a teacher in Avon. “We also have on first line, between Dominic Bazzano and Max Leopold, two guys who are coming in after great seasons last year.”
The two co-op teams draw from a combination of seven towns, which appears awkward on paper, but the administrators, coaches and players involved know what they have to do to stay on the ice.
“We formed it in 2008 simply to save the program,” said Stevenson who is in his fifth season coaching the co-op. “Once you lose hockey, or any sport, it’s not coming back.”
Stevenson was part of a merger between two long-time rivals – Manchester and Rockville – and was able to make the adjustment quickly. Stafford came onboard last season.
“What helped us was having great success our first year,” Stevenson said. “We won a state title and after that, any ideas of rivalry went right out the window. And naming our team ‘United’ really helped out a lot.”
The WAVE (W for Windsor, AV for Avon, E for East Granby) was formed out of a similar situation – numbers were dwindling and the schools were forced to merge to stay alive. Farmington came into the mix this season.
“On paper, Windsor is the lead school because you have to have one,” according to Windsor athletic director Steve Risser. “But we just divide the expenses up and it works well.”
Risser has the WAVE’s administrative situation under control and Percival, along with assistants Mike Barone and Andy Tomarchio, have a core of players dedicated to the program.
“Anybody who is crazy enough to get out here for 9:30 p.m. ice and go home for midnight really wants to play hockey,” Percival said.