Fairfield Prep hockey team loses to Glastonbury in Division I semifinals
By Doug Bonjour, CT Post
NEW HAVEN -- Staring at a seemingly insurmountable three-goal deficit with just 3:32 left on the clock in the Division I state semifinals, Fairfield Prep head coach Matt Sather called a timeout and soon after, emptied his net out of desperation.
It was quite an unusual predicament for top-seeded Prep, which had lost just three times all season and was aiming for its fifth appearance in the state final in the last six years. But Sather knew he didn't have much of a choice. No. 4 Glastonbury had been in complete control for more than two periods and time was all but up on the Jesuits' season. "I thought we needed something. I felt like if we could start winning some more races down low in their end, we could get some opportunities," Sather said.
With an extra skater on the ice with senior goaltender Riley Wikman watching from the bench, Prep did get more opportunities -- and cashed in on two of them -- but it was too late. Following a pair of goals a minute apart by junior defenseman Sean Henry to get Prep within one with 1:47 remaining, Glastonbury held off a frantic final push to seal its 5-4 upset of the Jesuits on Wednesday at Ingalls Rink.
"You know how hard it is to score goals at the end of the game when you're just clogging up the middle," Glastonbury head coach Ken Barse said. "Our guys did a great job of clogging up the middle. You've just got to kind of rely on what works for you."
Glastonbury (20-4) will make its second appearance in the title game since 2009 when it takes on No. 2 Notre Dame-West Haven (19-3-1) on Saturday at Ingalls Rink at 2 p.m.
The Tomahawks stunned Prep's usually formidable defense early with a pair of first-period goals, and later became the first team this season to score more than three times on the Jesuits. Senior forward Ethan Holdaway got the Tomahawks on the board with 11:25 left in the first. Nearly five minutes later, after Prep's A.J. Unker evened it up 1-1, Aaron Mandell followed up his rebound off a slapshot to give Glastonbury a 2-1 lead.
"Their top line was fast and we didn't do a great job of backchecking in the first half of the game. They really took advantage of that, getting second-chance opportunities and rebound goals off rushes," Sather said. "Maybe we were going for a little bit too much offensively."
"For us to put up two of them in the first period, that made believers out of our locker room that this game was a game to go out and grab," Barse said.
Prep, the defending state champion, outshot Glastonbury 24-22 but failed to make most of its shots count until the third period. After Glastonbury scored twice in the second period to take a 4-1 lead into the final period, Jesuits senior forward Evan Antisdale scored off a scrum in front of the net to cut it to 4-2 with 12;56 to play. But the Tomahawks regained a three-goal advantage when senior Drew Mozzer scored with 6:13 left.
As time slowly ticked away on Prep, Henry scored off an assist from Matt Brophy with 2:06 to give the Jesuits some renewed life. Despite the late pressure, Glastonbury junior goaltender Chase Gabor held strong and finished with 20 saves. "At the end there, it was a sea of bodies. Those two goals he never even saw," Barse said of Gabor. "He made every save he had to make. He played well."
Prep didn't quit but by then it was too little, too late. "It's so easy to look at that scoreboard and see down three with a couple minutes to go and pack it in, but our guys didn't do that," Sather said. "I'm very proud of them." Wikman made 17 saves for Prep.
Division I semifinals at Ingalls Rink
GLASTONBURY 2 2 1--5
FAIRFIELD PREP 1 0 3--4
Records: Glastonbury 20-4; Fairfield Prep 19-4. Goals: G-- Aaron Mandell 2, Ethan Holdaway, Conor Thompson, Drew Mozzer; FP--Sean Henry 2, A.J. Unker, Evan Antisdale. Assists: G--Mozzer, Luke DiMarco, Tyler Walles; FP--Connor Henry 2, Matt Brophy, David White, Kevin Brown, Sean Henry. Goalies: G--Chase Gabor (20 saves); FP--Riley Wikman (17). Shots: G--22; FP--24.
Fairfield Prep hockey team blanks Hamden to reach semifinals
By Pat Pickens, March 11, 2012, CT Post
NEW HAVEN -- In two meetings with Hamden during the regular season, Fairfield Prep star forward David White served as a one-man wrecking crew. So naturally when it came time for the Jesuits to put their old rival's season to bed, it was the standout junior's time to shine. White scored both Prep goals as the top-seeded Jesuits beat No. 8 Hamden 2-0 in the Division I hockey quarterfinals on Saturday at Ingalls Rink.
White's pair of tallies raised his total to eight against the Green Dragons this year helping Prep finish 3-0 against Hamden. White scored the last seven straight Jesuits' goals against the Green Dragons. "He scores goals in bunches against a lot of teams," Prep coach Matt Sather said of White. "He's a great player, a nice finisher and a great kid."
"He was definitely a thorn in our side this year," Hamden coach Bill Verneris said of White. Riley Wikman stopped 28 shots as the Jesuits advanced to the Division I semifinals for the third straight year and fifth time in six years. Prep also eliminated the Green Dragons for the second straight year in the Division I quarters for the second straight year. "It's Hamden ... obviously we always want to knock them out," Wikman said. "Beating them (at Ingalls) is perfect."
The Jesuits will now play No. 4 Glastonbury, which reached the state semis with a 3-2 win over Darien. on Wednesday at Ingalls at 5:30 p.m. "They have some guys with some slick hands," Sather said. "We're going to have to play a lot like we did today to beat them."
Hamden goalie Andrew Varga made 25 saves as the Green Dragons lost six of their last seven games after a 10-3-2 start, including two such defeats at the hands of the Jesuits. "Any time a team can beat you three times, that's a better team," Verneris said. "Hats off to Fairfield Prep, they did everything to deserve to win."
White scored both goals in the first 4:45 of the game. His first came on a feed from AJ Unker, and he patiently waited at the top of the slot, beating Varga over the stick to put the Jesuits ahead 1-0. "He's been working on (patience)," Sather said of White. "He's got a great release, but sometimes you have to pick your spots and he's really learning how to do that." Just 2:30 later he scored again, when Will Brophy made a slick pass to White at the blue line. White beat Varga between the arm and body to put the Jesuits ahead 2-0. "Brophy gave me a perfect pass," White said. "All I had to do was put it in the net."
From there, Prep's defense was the difference, holding Hamden to just two second-chance shots after Wikman made the initial save. Prep also blocked several Hamden tries before they reached Wikman and also killed off all four Hamden power plays. "We just couldn't penetrate their team defense," Verneris said. "They played very solid, five-man defense and we had a hard time slipping the seams. That's a tribute to their coaching and team."
Division I quarterfinal at Ingalls Rink
HAMDEN......................................0 0 0--0
FAIRFIELD PREP............................2 0 0-- 2
Records: Hamden 11-9-2, Fairfield Prep 19-3. Goals: FP--David White 2. Assists: FP--AJ Unker, Connor Henry, Will Brophy, Matt Brophy. Goalies: H--Andrew Varga (25 saves); FP--Riley Wikman (28). Shots: H--28; FP--27.
Fairfield Prep skates past North Haven in opener
Pat Pickens, CT Post, Thursday, March 8, 2012
BRIDGEPORT-- Despite earning the Division I tournament's top seed, Fairfield Prep boys ice hockey coach Matt Sather was worried about his team's first state playoff game against North Haven. But the Jesuits used defense and just enough balanced scoring to placate their tense coach's nerves and get back to the state quarterfinals.
Sophomore Matt Wikman scored early in the second period to break a 1-1 tie and three different Jesuits scored goals as top-seeded Prep held off No. 17 North Haven 3-1 on Wednesday at Wonderland of Ice. "We did just enough," Sather said. "The first game of the tournament is always the wild card and it's always a hump to get over."
Prep will meet a familiar foe, eighth-seeded Hamden, in the quarterfinals on Saturday, likely at either Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport or Ingalls Rink in New Haven. Fairfield Prep beat Hamden twice this season, including a 4-3 overtime affair on Feb. 25.
Senior Matt Brophy and sophomore Kenneth Kochiss also scored as the Jesuits advanced to the state quarters for the third straight year, despite missing their second leading scorer, AJ Unker, who was sidelined with the flu. "We play all our players for a reason," Sather said. "AJ is a great player, and we're much better with him, but we're not too bad without him, too."
North Haven also troubled Prep because of its goalie, Mike Amarone, who stopped 40 shots in defeat. The Indians' netminder also stopped 32 against Prep the first time the clubs met, Feb. 8, when the Jesuits only won 2-1. "When his head's in the game, he is phenomenal," North Haven coach Tom Roche said. "It was the same thing the first time we played."
"I was worried," Sather said. "They're a tough team, they compete real hard." But Amarone struggled to stay balanced in the first period, and Brophy capitalized putting Prep on the board just 30 seconds in. The senior forward stole the puck, and ripped a shot from the top of the circle, giving the Jesuits the early lead.
"It felt great," Brophy said. "I was in the right place at the right time and I don't think the goalie was set and I put it away." The Indians tied it just five minutes later, when Andrew Babbidge beat Prep goalie Riley Wikman between the pads, knotting the score at 1. "They came hard and definitely brought it," Brophy said.
But after Indians' senior Mark Girardi was sent to the box late in the first for tripping, Prep capitalized on its carryover power play. Wikman's centering feed from below the right circle hit an Indians defender and beat Amarone, putting Prep ahead 2-1. "We knew penalties would hurt us," Roche said. "They're tough enough to stop five-on-five. That goal did hurt." Kochiss' tip on Tim Edmonds' point shot with 2:02 left put the game away.
Besides senior Tom Worsfold's two assists, Prep's defense kept the Indians at bay, holding North Haven to just four third-period shots on goal. "To stick to it in the third period when the pressure is on is impressive," Sather said. "It's a sign of maturity."
Division I first round
NORTH HAVEN..............................1 0 0-- 1
FAIRFIELD PREP............................1 1 1 -- 3
Records: North Haven 10-12, Fairfield Prep 18-3. Goals: NH--Andrew Babbidge; FP--Matt Wikman, Matt Brophy, Kenneth Kochiss; Assists: FP--Tom Worsfold 2, David White, Tim Edmonds, Dean Lockery; Goalies: NH--Mike Amarone (40 saves); FP--Riley Wikman (22); Shots: NH--23; FP--43.