Just a few short years ago, the Shepaug Valley/Nonnewaug/Litchfield co-op ice hockey team dreamed of being competitive.

Lots of hard work later, the Spartans have achieved that goal.

Yet coach Michael Gorra's skaters haven't quite translated that competitive edge into enough victories to make them happy.

The Spartans narrowly missed state Division II tournament qualification with a 7-13 record last winter.

This time around, coach Gorra and Co. capitalized on relaxed standards for tournament qualification by making the Division field with a 5-15 ledger.

The local skaters then acquitted themselves well at tournament time with a strong effort in defeat, giving highly touted Sheehan of Wallingford a tough match before before succumbing, 6-4.

"We were fairly pleased with the outcome," reflected coach Gorra, although not willing to claim any moral victories. "We are a strong enough team to beat them."

In retrospect, the Spartans were not all that far from a winning record this winter but haven't yet gained the knack for winning tight matches.

"Six one-goal losses and a few two-goal losses will change into wins next season," said coach Gorra.

"Our record does not adequately represent the success this team had this season," he remarked. "We are very close to breaking into the top of Division 3."

Seniors Kevin Boylan and Kyle Goldstein have played their final matches for the Spartans.

"The whole team must be congratulated on a great effort this season," coach Gorra concluded. "In every game, they played hard and supported each other right to the end. I am proud of every one."

Norm Cummings