Bolton/Coventry/Lyman/Rockville falls in tourney final

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Region - posted Mon., Mar. 18, 2013
(L-r) Paul Bates, Eddie Bates and Mason Madison finish up a practice session in preparation for the Division III finals game. Photo by Melanie Savage.
(L-r) Paul Bates, Eddie Bates and Mason Madison finish up a practice session in preparation for the Division III finals game. Photo by Melanie Savage.

Early in the season, a newly-formed Bolton/Coventry/Lyman Memorial/Rockville hockey cooperative had already managed to set aside a long-standing rivalry to form a cohesive team. "It has been a challenge in many ways," said head coach Christian Stevenson in late December, after Rockville joined the existing Bolton/Coventry/Lyman Memorial cooperative. “We were rivals in the pure sense of the word. You need to picture the Red Sox and Yankees suddenly merging." But the early season helped to forge cohesiveness among the players. "What helped was the players were on the same fall league team and became familiar with each other. There is no more ‘them’ or ‘those guys’... it is all ‘we’ and ‘us,’” said Stevenson.

As the season progressed, it was clear the players had formed a successful unit. BCL finished the regular season with a 17-1-2 record, and headed into post-season play with a number-three seed. A bye for round one and an easy win against E.O. Smith/Tolland/Windham brought the team up against number-two seed NFA/St. Bernard’s/Bacon for the semifinal round of the Division III tourney. A hard-fought victory after two periods of overtime play brought BCL up against number one-seeded Newington/Berlin/Manchester for the final game.

“They certainly are a cohesive unit," said Stevenson after a March 14 practice at the team's home rink in Bolton. “We really try to create a family atmosphere that will stay with them for a lifetime. Once a part of the program... always a part of the program.”

“There’s no rivalry in the locker room,” said team co-captain and Coventry junior Eddie Bates. Bates and his teammate, Lyman junior Mason Madison, felt that the final would come down to a strong defensive performance. “It will be a battle of the goalies for sure,” said Bates. BCL goalie Cam Earle and NBM goalie Drew O’Leary “are two of the best goalies in the state,” said Bates. So with both teams presenting strong offensive threats, the goalies would be under pressure to be in top form.

“But at this level, what it’s really going to come down to is who wants it more,” said Madison.

Both teams were strong both offensively and defensively during the final game, played on March 16 at Ingalls Rink. It was a single goal, scored near the end of the second period, that made the difference. With a final score of 1-0, Newington/Berlin/Manchester defended the championship and ended the season for BCL.

“We had a tremendous season and finished with a tough 1-0 loss,” said Stevenson. “For a first-year program with players coming from rival schools, I feel pretty confident in calling the year a success… Going 20-2-1 is a rare feat, and the boys should be proud of themselves.”

Mason Madison was the single member of the BCL team to come from Lyman Memorial this year. Stevenson called Madison “an outstanding example of an ideal student athlete who works hard on and off the ice.”

Brothers Paul and Eddy Bates come from Coventry High School. “Both brothers really know how to dangle and show exceptional speed,” said Stevenson.

Coventry player Hunter Byram “has been a rock for us on defense and is also an accomplished high school golfer,” said Stevenson.

Coventry player Kevin Morton “emerged as one of the top players in D3 and has been selected to play in the junior all-star game and placed on the All-Central Connecticut Conference team,” said Stevenson.

Coventry players Bruce Smith and Cam Armstrong were key players this year, “filling many roles until they were both sidelined with injuries,” said Stevenson.

Coventry player Nate Tonzi “was an outstanding defensemen until I needed him to play forward because of injuries,” said Stevenson.  “This move really showed us the tremendous dedication this young man has to the team as he worked very hard during this adjustment.”

Coventry player Tyler Hood “shows a lot of promise as a ninth-grader and will be an exciting player to watch in the future,” said Stevenson.

Stevenson lists Cameron Earle, J.R. Piretti, Hunter Byram, Matt Zawislinski, Liam McGrath, Nate Tonzi, Kevin Morton and Seth Alexanderowicz as among the players making major contributions to Bolton/Coventry/Lyman/Rockville’s successful season this year.

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