WEST HAVEN >> It’s usually a spirited, exciting affair, with something quirky at times impacting the outcome when both Notre Dames face off.
Friday’s inaugural Southern Connecticut Conference/South-West Conference Division I tournament championship game was no different.
The quirky moment came in a five-goal second period — three by Notre Dame-Fairfield, two by Notre Dame-West Haven — when the Lancers scored two quick back-to-back goals that turned the momentum their way.
In the end, goalie Zac Bouve of Milford had 30 saves and Garrett Gintoli of Shelton scored twice to lead No. 1 Notre Dame-Fairfield to a 5-2 win at Bennett Rink in front of a sellout crowd of 1,250.
“It’s always up and down and a lot of fun when we both play each other,” Notre Dame-Fairfield coach Steve Hetherman said. “Both goalies played well and there was a lot of action in the game. Those two quick goals in the second period were huge for us because the momemntum went our way after that happened.
“Winning this inaugural SWC-SCC championship is wonderful. But the kids have worked hard and when they get rewarded for their effort it’s great. Nothing better.”
After a scoreless first period, offense started to kick in during the second. The No. 2 Green Knights started the scoring barrage when Matt Dumas gave them a 1-0 lead at 3:32. Less than two minutes later the Lancers answered when Gintoli wristed a shot in front of goalie Wade Conlan to tie the game at 1.
Notre Dame-West Haven started swarming Bouve and after he made a pair of saves, Jim Davins scored to give the Green Knights a 2-1 lead at 6:19.
Enter the quirky moment.
Ryan Gawricki of Shelton scored off a rebound at 8:45 and 14 seconds later Christian La Croix of North Branford wristed a shot to give the Lancers a 3-2 lead at 8:59.
“Those two quick goals were huge for us and huge for me,” Bouve said. “It took some pressure off me and we could feel the momentum change for us after we took that lead.”
In the third period, the Green Knights started putting more pressure on Bouve but couldn’t finish off their shots with a goal. The Lancers eventually padded their lead when Nick Carloto scored at 11:14 to make it 4-2 and Gintoli added an empty-net goal with 15 seconds left for the final score.
“This loss is tough to swallow,” Notre Dame-West Haven cach Tim Belcher said. “But playing an up-and-down game at a high level like this prepares you for the state tournament. We had a couple of defensive lapses and we didn’t limit their second chances. That made it difficult.”
Notre Dame goalie Wade Conlan did his best to keep the Green Knights in the game with 36 saves.
At the end of the game, Hetherman, who has a knack for thanking people for his team’s success, started thanking everyone again and this time he got a chance to mention the Zamboni guy.
“My players worked hard for this, but I have to thank my assistant coaches and I have to thank Vinny the Zamboni guy, too,” Hetherman said.
Notre Dame-Fairfield 5, Notre Dame-West Haven 2
(at West Haven)
Notre Dame-West Haven 0 2 0 — 2
Notre Dame-Fairfield 0 3 2 — 5
Second period—NDWH: Matt Dumas (Joe Ansaldo) 3:32; NDF: Garrett Gintoli (Cooper Demchak) 4:50; NDWH: Jim Davins (Eric Austin) 6:19; NDF: Ryan Gawricki (Craig Hessenius, Jon Suporn) 8:45; Christian La Croix (AJ Lucatino) 8:59; Third period—NDF: Nick Carloto (Dan Walsh, Jon Suporn) 11:14; Garrett Gintoli 14:45;
Shots—NDWH: 32; NDF: 41;
Saves—NDWH: Wade Conlan 36; NDF: Zak Bouve 30;
Records—Notre Dame-Fairfield 16-4-1; Notre Dame-West Haven 13-6-1