Boys hockey: First-period flurry helps Ridgefield rout Wilton

In addition to geographic proximity, there is another reason why the Ridgefield-Wilton boys hockey rivalry is so intense: The teams practice and play games at the same rink, the Winter Garden Arena, in Ridgefield.

Last Saturday afternoon, the place felt a lot more like home for the Tigers.

Scoring six first-period goals, Ridgefield went on to paste the struggling Warriors, 7-0.

“No matter the opponent, we come out and play hard, ready to execute,” said Ridgefield head coach Shaun Gallagher, after his team improved to 10-1 this season by thoroughly controlling the game from the opening face-off. “It was also very nice to see seven goals being scored by seven different players.”

One of those players was senior forward Jeff Pracella, who gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead just three minutes into the game by ripping a shot past the Wilton goalie after a great feed from linemate Matteo Van Wees.

“Getting the first goal of the game felt great,” said Pracella. “Matteo Van Wees did a great job of setting me up on that one. I was proud to start off the scoring against Wilton, our rivals.”

Not even a minute later, defenseman Ty Fujitani took a hard shot that ricocheted off of a Wilton player for the second Ridgefield goal, assisted by Charlie Luft.

Defenseman Harrison Chuma scored on an unassisted slap shot to make it 3-0, and Jack Stafford, Del Irving and Kieran McGowan added three more goals within 25 seconds of one another. Ben Giangrosso assisted on two of the goals, which bumped Ridgefield’s lead to 6-0 at the end of the first period.

Assisted by Landon Byers and Will Forrest, Giangrosso made it 7-0 in the second period. After that, the Tigers politely refrained from extending their advantage.

With the seven-goal lead, Gallagher was able to rest some of his regulars.

“Having our younger guys play extended minutes and get solid ice time is valuable,” said Gallagher. “Nothing replaces real-game experience; it's definitely better than practices to help everyone get better.”

With senior standout Sean Keegans given a well-deserved night off, freshman Jack Rahlfs got the start in goal and shut out the Warriors, who fell to 2-8 with the loss. Rahlfs got help from Chuma, Fujitani, and fellow defensemen Andrew Tregurtha, Jack McGeary, Jonas Chang, and Liam Galloway.