Lions win state title, advance to nationals

The Ridgefield Lions Bantam A hockey team is headed south.

Ridgefield defeated Wonderland, 3-1, on March 5 to win the Connecticut Tier II state tournament and clinch a spot in next month’s USA Hockey National Championship in Coral Springs, Fla.

The Lions won all five of their tournament games, outscoring the opposition by a combined 22-4.

"I teach them the importance of doing all the little things correctly and to give 110% on every shift," said head coach Mike Schneider. "I instill in them the importance of trusting their teammates to execute.”

"The Connecticut state championship is a tremendous achievement, built through years of hard work and dedication," said Michael Luft, president of the Ridgefield Amateur Hockey Association. "It is a testament to all of the RAHA coaches, players, and parents who stuck together over the years and committed themselves to something great.”

Ridgefield opened the tournament with a 4-2 win over East Haven and then shut out both Hamden, 7-0, and New Canaan, 6-0. The Lions beat Yale, 2-1, in the semifinals before topping Wonderland in the title game.

Ridgefield went 22-4-1 during the regular season and won its division at the International Silver Stick New England regionals in Bridgeport. The Lions also placed second at the CanAm Tournament in Lake Placid, N.Y.

“We had solid performances and significant contributions from every player on the team," said assistant coach Jeff MacDonald, "and our goaltending (Catie Boudiette, Ryan Maguire) was the best in the league.”

That runner-up finish at the CanAm event served as motivation.

“We learned we were beatable if we didn’t give it our all,” said CJ Stafford, one of the team’s captains along with Michael Thompson, Kevin McNicholas and Boudiette. “If we want to win, we’re going to have to leave it all on the ice every time we play.”

In addition to its goalies and captains, Ridgefield’s squad also includes Matthew Ambrosio, Toby Berner, Jack Caiola, Samantha DeLeo, Tyler Everitt, Giancarlo Faraci, Drew Greeley, Taylor MacDonald, Shane McCaghey, Patrick Rigby, William Stewart, Brody Trew, Bryce Wallace, and Kees van Wees.