NEW HAVEN >> It was the last quarterfinal game of the day, but it took the shortest amount of time to determine a winner. Scoring three times in a span of 1 minute, 7 seconds, the Lancers of Notre Dame-Fairfield punched their ticket to the CIAC Division I semifinals with a convincing 11-1 victory over East Haven at Ingalls Rink Saturday night.
Before the game was even 6 minutes old, the Lancers had jumped on East Haven for a 3-0 lead and for good measure added a fourth tally 55 seconds later.
With the victory, Notre Dame will play Darien a 5-0 winner over South Windsor, in Wednesday night’s semifinals at Ingalls Rink at 5:30 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. for the right to play in Saturday’s title game.
“We talked before the game about how do we simplify a game we make so complex,” Notre Dame coach Steve Hetherman said after his team improved to 18-4-1. “We do that with hard work. We wanted to keep it simple and we were able to do that.”
With a three-goal victory over East Haven earlier in the season, the Lancers knew what they would be up against and made sure the second meeting was not a contest.
Christian LaCroix scored the first of his four goals just 4:27 into the contest when he beat East Haven goaltender Tom DeLucia through traffic off a faceoff. Just 49 seconds later, Notre Dame led 2-0 as Jonny Suporn had a partial break and fought off the East Haven defense to backhand a shot past DeLucia.
Before the Notre Dame faithful could settle down, Garrett Gintoli scored the first of his two goals 18 seconds later. The roof really came off the Ingalls Rink when LaCroix scored his second of the period off an assist from A.J. Lucatino 55 seconds later for a 4-0 advantage.
“The first period killed us,” East Haven coach Lou Pane said after his team closed the season at 17-5. “That carried through the whole game.
“They have a great team. You have to give them credit. Their offense is so strong. All the credit goes to them.”
The Yellowjackets had 11 shots in the opening period, but eight came after the Lancers led by four goals, and Notre Dame goaltender Zach Bouve turned them all aside. Bouve finished the game with 25 saves against his former team.
“This is definitely a big win for us,” Bouve said. “It gives us a lot of confidence going into next week. The team just came out on fire. My guys did a great job.”
The Yellowjackets kept their pulse alive with a power-play goal 1:32 into the second when Matt Longobardi set up a one-timer by Mike Falanga to cut the deficit to 4-1.
East Haven never got closer.
The Lancers scored three more times in the middle period as Danny Walsh scored off a turnover 3:31 in, LaCroix scored from a sharp angle for his hat trick 2:33 later and Walsh scored his second with 3:24 left for a 7-1 lead after two periods.
“It felt good,” LaCroix said. “We knew we had to get off to a quick start and play a complete game. It all comes down to preparation.”
The onslaught continued in the third period when Justin Dupuis scored 2:11 in and Gintoli scored his second 12 seconds later. LaCroix helped cap the scoring with his fourth with 8:36 to go and Ryan Gawricki and Mark Russo set up Brendan Barger with 2:08 left on the power play for the 11-1 final.
Gawricki had three assists, Tyler Henchcliffe had two assists and Dupuis had a goal and an assist for the Lancers. DeLucia made 28 saves for East Haven.
EAST HAVEN 0 1 0 — 1
ND-FAIRFIELD 4 3 4 — 11
Goals: First period: NDFF-Christian LaCroix; NDFF-Jonathan Supporn; NDFF–Garrett Gintoli; NDFF–LaCroix. Second Period: EH–Michael Falanga; NDFF–Dan Walsh; NDFF–LacRoix; NDFF–Walsh. Third period: NDFF–Justin Dupuis; NDFF–Gintoli; NDFF–LaCroix; NDFF–Brendan Barger.
Assists: EH–Matthew Longobardi; NDFF– Ryan Gawricki 3, Tyler Henchcliffe 2, Nick Carloto, AJ Lucatino, Cooper Demchak, Mark Russo, Dupuis.
Saves: East Haven–Tom DeLucia 28; Notre Dame-Fairfield–Zak Bouve 25.
Shots: East Haven–26 Notre Dame-Fairfield–39.
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