Aside from 9-seed WMRP and 10-seed Farmington Valley taking down evenly matched rivals in the first round, no upsets excited at the DII level. The DII quarters always provide some drama, let's take a look!
(9) WMRP (16-5) vs. (1) Watertown-Pomperaug (16-3-2)
8:00 Koeppel Community Center, Trinity College
The top seeded Indians of Watertown-Pomperaug head to the back yard of 9-seed WMRP in this quarterfinal tilt. This has the makings of a really interesting affair, especially if WP struggles to score early like they did against 17-seed East Haven. They were definitely given a scare and I think that'll make WP even that much more dangerous. East Haven actually took a 3-2 lead with 3:49 to play. It didn't last long however, as sophomore Ryan Magee scored the equalizer with 3:33 left and shortly thereafter senior Patsy Harris scored the eventual game winner. Senior Zach Smith led the way with two goals for WP while senior Troy Harwell assisted on two goals getting him to the 100-point plateau. Senior James Moaddel also scored for WP. On the negative, junior Sean Dunfee is likely done for the year after sustaining an injury that caused him to leave the game. That hurts WP's depth. Already not as deep as successful WP squads in the past that brings the number down even further. WMRP also won a tight one but their's came on the road at the Freitas Ice Forum up in Storrs. WMRP took down 8-seed EO Smith 3-1 behind some strong play from senior Jake Peckrul in net and goals from junior Trevor Piecewicz and sophomores Aaron Cholewa and Michael Schneider. It was a huge win for the Eagles, in hostile territory against a familiar foe. I suspect a bounce back game for Fleming who rarely lets in three nor gives up a lead or a tie late. Pulling out the win after getting scared may end up being the best thing for WP. But if you think this is a simple 1-seed over a 9-seed you're mistaken. WMRP will be in this game and has the horses to be able to take it.
(5) South Windsor (11-9-1) vs. (4) Branford (15-3-3)
5:45 Koeppel Community Center, Trinity College
Branford took a while to get going in their first round tilt with 13-seed Woodstock Academy and even went into the second intermission tied at two. From there, thanks in large part to senior Robbie Lionetti's heroics, Branford scored four unanswered to leave no doubt and won 6-2. South Windsor had no such struggles. In a game that many had pegged as a possible upset in the makings, the 5-seed Bobcats demolished the 12-seed North Branford T-Birds 9-0 in a game that was scoreless through one. Branford and South Windsor didn't meet this season but there's plenty of intrigue in this game. South Windsor is looking to make it back to Ingalls for the first time since doing so as a dark horse 9-seed in 2017. Branford looks to return after a three year hiatus, last making it to the Whale in 2015. In their win over Woodstock, the aforementioned Lionetti (3 G, A) posted a hat trick while senior Max Bunton and juniors Spencer Engstrom and Zach Jones all scored as well. Junior Jack Manware added two assists in the win. Senior Greg Lucente got the start for this one and played well enough to keep Branford in it when the offense was struggling. Expect sophomore Jared Yakimoff in net for this one. South Windsor used a four-goal performance from senior Cam O'Connor to propel them to victory against North Branford. Sophomore Sean O'Connor scored twice and senior goalie Deven Trombley stopped every shot he faced in that win. These were two of my darlings for most of the year. Branford is playing some of their best hockey of the year overall while South Windsor shocked many by winning in such a fashion last time out. That all leads to this being one hell of a quarterfinal.
(10) Farmington Valley (9-10-2) vs. (2) Guilford (15-6)
7:00 Bennett Rink
Guilford and Farmington Valley played to a wild 6-5 overtime game less than a month ago that went in Guilford's favor. If that's what we have to look forward to, sign me up! These are two groups who aren't the deepest but are sure among the most offensively potent. Guilford notably fell in the DIII Championship last season. If only I could remember who it was against... THE FARMINGTON VALLEY GENERALS! Not only do we have two bonkers offenses going at it but it's a repeat of last year's DII Championship! Guilford gets here after taking down 15-seed Amity 5-1. In that game, junior Jack Dacey notched his 8th hat trick of the season while senior John Delucia and freshman Connor Hagness scored as well. For the Generals they took care of 10-seed East Catholic for the third time this year. The usual suspects were in high gear yet again. Junior Matty Arena had two goals and an assist while seniors Eric Schweitzer and Owen Lacourciere both tallied a goal and two assists in the win. Guilford is looking to make their 4th straight trip to Ingalls rink, something that, if it happens, should permanently etch this senior class in stone somewhere on Guilford's campus. Farmington Valley looks to make it to Ingalls to try to defend their Division II title, something that has never been done at the DII level. This one has the makings of a Bennett postseason classic.
(6) Glastonbury (12-7-2) vs. (3) Cheshire (16-4-1)
5:15 Northford Ice Pavilion
Cheshire was given a bit of a scare from 14-seed Eastern CT Eagles, granted they're a very talented 14-seed but ultimately survived, winning 3-2. Tonight, they run into another formidable foe in 6-seed Glastonbury. The Tomahawks beat 11-seed Westhill-Stamford with relative ease, 6-2 in the first round. In that win, Glastonbury received two goals from senior captain Justin Hazard. From there, Glastonbury's talented junior class chipped in with Jack Kantor, Adam Poetto and Ryan Ginnett all lighting the lamp. Sophomore Keane Smith also scored for the Tomahawks in the win. Glastonbury is looking to return to Ingalls for the first time since they were in the Division I semifinals back in 2015. Cheshire and ECE were tied at 2 late when sophomore Thor Novicelli broke the tie only 23 seconds after Evan Tower tied it for ECE. Junior Charlie Pettit and sophomore Joey Delucia also scored for Cheshire in that one while sophomore Aidan Gaudet added two assists. The Rams and Tomahawks styles differ drastically and it'll be important to see what kind of tempo this game takes on early. In net Glastonbury senior Brendan O'Connor has had a great senior season and has four shutouts coming into play. Cheshire junior netminder Nick Maringola is as good as it gets. One of them will have a monster day. Cheshire is looking to return to Yale after a long drought. The last time the Rams were playing at the Whale was when they won the Division II title back in 2011.