It’s the one thing that all coaches hope for, to win the last game of the season. The result being, your team is crowned champions. The WMRP Eagles did just that and were rewarded the following day with the announcement, that in spite of all their success and hard work, their season was over.
“The whole rational is, this thing is a lot bigger than high school hockey,” said WMRP head coach Dennis Tulimieri. “I’m sure the CIAC wants to do what is in the best interest of the players from a health and safety perspective, but that goes without saying.”
The Wethersfield-Middletown-Rocky Hill-Plainville co-op hockey team put up some impressive numbers over the past few seasons reaching the semifinals at Ingalls Rink on the Yale campus two of the last three seasons and were well on their way for another trip to the final four.
The Eagles went 20-3 overall and were the CCC regular season champs with the best record of 13 teams at 11-2 and the CCC South tournament champions for the first time in the programs history.
“The last three years has been amazing,” said Tulimieri. “Two of the last three years we were in the state semifinals and this year we were looking to get back to Yale once again.”
The No. 1 ranked Eagles entered the CCC tournament as the second highest scoring team in Div. II sending 119 goals to the back of the net while allowing 44 goals. In the semifinals on March 5 WMRP was all over E.O. Smith pulling away to a 6-3 win.
Jack Healy led the attack dropping two goals into the net. Trevor Piecewicz, Aaron Cholewa, Will McCarter and Brody Davidson each knocked goals to the back of the net to complete the scoring attack.
The Eagles went up against Hall-Southington in the CCC championship game on March 7. The Warrior Knights had been a nemesis of the Eagles knocking them out of last years conference tournament with an overtime victory and sending them home two years ago in the Div. III semifinals in a 1-0 heartbreaking setback.
The Eagles settled the score earning a 5-2 win over Hall-Southington with Healy leading the charge scoring two goals. Duncan Hollander tallied two goals for the Warrior Knights but it wasn’t enough to overcome a three goal second period.
Cholewa and Dylan Reynolds scored during a one minute span allowing the Eagles to open up a 3-1 advantage. Hollander closed the gap with his second goal of the game only to have Healy put in his second goal with just seconds remaining in the period giving WMRP a 4-2 lead heading into the final period. Evan Partridge completed the scoring with 9:50 to play for the final margin of victory.
On March 9 the Eagles ranked 4th in the Div. II playoffs hosted the Eastern Eagles and rode the strength of goal keeper Trevor Schad in a 5-0 shutout victory. Chase Millen and Brent Clemens scored goals along with Brody Davidson, Piecewicz and Partridge.
WMRP advanced to the quarterfinals and was set to take on 5th ranked 15-5-1 Westhill-Stamford on March 13 with the winner moving onto Ingalls Rink in the semifinals. The CIAC stepped in the following day and cancelled the remainder of all the winter tournaments.
“The most important thing in Plainville as well as the CIAC is the safety of all the student athletes,” said Plainville athletic director Chris Farrell. “This was a very tough decision the CIAC had to make but it was made with the best interest of all the athletic programs in the state.”
“Before the decision was even made I was in close contact with Superintendent LePage about making adjustments to our athletic programs. This decision affected our boys swim team, cheerleading team and hockey team. And just days later all of professional sports and colleges suspended or ended their seasons. There is no playbook for these unprecedented times.”
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