A gallant corps of youth skaters from Northwestern Connecticut Youth Hockey captured a state ice hockey championship Feb. 25 in Newington.

The Northwestern Icehawks Bantam "A" ice hockey team completed an improbable run to the Bantam Tier III state championship with a 4-2 victory over the New Canaan Winter Club at the Newington Ice Arena.

The Bantams were forced because of injuries to play the first five games of the tournament with only nine skaters and a goalie, yet "relied on heart and strategy" to get to the championship match, reported Margaret Manzer.

Northwestern had barely survived the preliminary round of games.

The Bantams tied Stamford 3-3, beat Southern, 8-0, and lost to New Canaan, 5-1, on Feb. 23 to squeak into the quarterfinals by virtue of a goal differential tiebreaker.

Given that second life, the Icehawks proceeded Feb. 24 to dispatch both of the top two seeds in the 16-team tournament, 5-3 over the Greenwich Skate Club and 3-2 over the Eastern Connecticut Hockey Organization, th elatter triumph achieved in the opening seconds of overtime.

For many of the Icehawks, some of whom have been playing together for eight years, the state championship game could have been their last travel hockey game together.

Instead, the Icehawks will now represent the state March 15-17 at the New England sectional tournament in Burlington, Vt.

Contributing their ice talents to the state championship were Justin Thompson, Avery Hook and assistant captains Payton Meyer and Riley Zimmerman of New Milford; Isaac Purdy of Bridgewater; Jack Kennedy of Roxbury; David DeMeo and goaltender Connor Lautier of New Preston; Jack Sommerfeld of Brookfield; Griffon McIntyre of Litchfield; captain BrianManzer of Southbury and Griffin Smith and Max Ryan of Woodbury.