NEW HAVEN >> Whenever the Milford and Amity boys hockey teams face off, it’s usually a close game with both sides led by speedy forwards and solid goaltending.
In a CIAC Division II semifinal on Monday it was another nail-biter, but defensive lapses by the Indians in the first period helped the Spartans take a lead they would never relinquish.
Adam Shea had two goals and two assists, and goalie Brian Mosher had 20 saves to lead No. 2 Amity to a 5-4 win over No. 11 Milford at Yale’s Ingalls Rink. Amity advances to the final vs. Hand, a 5-1 winner over East Catholic in the other semifinal, on Friday at Ingalls Rink at 7:30 p.m.
Behind 5-3, Milford coach Sal Follo pulled goalie John DePalma with about 1:10 left in the game. The man-advantage allowed Andrew Gobany to score, giving Milford some hope and cutting the lead to 5-4 with 59 seconds to play. But the Indians couldn’t get another quality shot off.
“We knew that wild finish was coming,” said Amity interim coach Mike Richetelli. “We knew what to expect with Milford because we always play these close, grind-it-out games. We took advantage of some defensive mistakes, and scoring the first goal of the game gave us a lot of momentum and emotion.
“Against teams like Milford our goal is to do everything first. We want to take the first shot, get that first hit and score that first goal.”
In the first period, Amity took a 3-1 lead with Shea contributing with a pair of goals and an assist.
Shea gave the Spartans a 1-0 lead 47 seconds in when he grabbed a loose puck at the bottom of the left circle, broke toward goalie John DePalma and wristed a shot into the right lower corner of the net.
Shea made it 2-0 at 9:16 of the first period off a breakaway all alone down center ice. He deked left and shot right just inside the post for the two-goal lead.
Milford’s Zach White showcased his own breakaway speed on the Indians’ first goal. He sped down the left wing with two defensemen trailing and wristed a shot in front of the left post to cut the lead to 2-1 at 10:08.
Brett McNeil answered with a power-play goal at 12:51 of the first period to give Amity a 3-1 lead at the first intermission.
“Everything seemed to be clicking for us tonight,” Shea said. “Milford is always competitive and it’s great fun to go up against Zach (White) because he’s such a good friend. Getting that first goal and taking that 3-1 lead in the first period was huge for us. We could really sense the momentum going our way. But they did make it interesting at the end.”
In the second period, Shea’s linemate Kevin Ryan padded the Amity lead with a goal at 3:51 to make it 4-1. Milford responded with goals by Ben LaVallee at 5:00 and White at 11:39 to cut the lead to 4-3.
Another defensive letdown led to another Amity when Zach Shelnitz was left alone with the puck between the circles. His slap shot flew past three players and into the net for a 5-3 lead at 5:28 and what would prove to be the game-winning goal.
Time became Milford’s enemy. Follo pulled his goalie and the Indians made it interesting but couldn’t get the equalizer.
“This loss was tough, very tough,” Follo said. “Getting that quick goal when we pulled the goalie was great, but we needed more time. We needed a few more minutes to get that fifth goal but the time ran out. Amity is a good team and they capitalized on our mistakes.
“I’m very proud of how hard my guys played. They gave it everything.”
Amity 5, Milford 4
(at Ingalls Rink)
Milford 1 2 1 — 4
Amity 3 1 1 — 5
First period—AM: Adam Shea (Kevin Ryan, Brett McNeil) :47; Adam Shea (Brett McNeil) 9:16; MLF: Zach White (Danny Cyr, Tommy Sampson) 10:08; AM: Brett McNeil (Adam Shea) 12:51; Second period—AM: Kevin Ryan (Adam Shea, Brett McNeil) 3:51; MLF: Ben LaVallee (David McLenithan, Will Vitelli) 5:00; Zach White (Danny Cyr, Ben LaVallee) 11:39; Third period—AM: Zach Shelnitz (Johnny Uscilla) 5:28; MLF: Andrew Gobany (Nash Ericson, Zach White) 14:01;
Shots—MLF: 24; AM: 33;
Saves—AM: Brian Mosher 20; MLF: John DePalma 28;
Records—Amity 17-8; Milford 13-9-1
Updates every minute – View full tournament