MILFORD — Playing for seeding in the state tournament with three games left in the regular season, the Milford Indians did not resemble a hockey team that was looking to work its way up in the playoff standings through a better part of two periods.
Zach White then turned the game around.
Scoring twice in the second period, White helped his team to a 3-2 overtime victory over Guilford on Senior Day at the Milford Ice Pavilion Saturday afternoon.
White’s two goals helped Milford overcome a two-goal deficit before Jonathan DePascale won the game 2 minutes, 9 seconds into overtime.
“This team never gives up,” White said. “It has been like that since I have been here. We just keep plugging away.”
After a scoreless third period, Milford (11-6-1) won the game in overtime. DePascale, a junior, fired a shot through traffic from the point that beat Guilford goaltender Hunter Martins for the game-winning goal.
“I was just trying to place it on net, hoping to get a rebound,” DePascale said. “Our goalies played a phenomenal game. We do not win without them.”
DePascale was referring to seniors Noah Ericson and John DePalma who split the time in goal on Senior Day and came away with a combined 27 saves.
“We did what we had to do,” Milford coach Sal Follo said. “A win is a win. We certainly needed it with two games left.”
After Guilford (3-15) had the better of the scoring opportunities in the opening period, the second period was wide open as each team scored twice. Guilford brought its momentum from the first period and Milford controlled the final 5 minutes of the middle period.
Guilford got on the board first when Chris Cafiero scored on the power play with 6:36 gone by in the middle period when his rebound beat Ericson.
With two senior goaltenders on the roster, Follo had DePalma play the second part of the game and he was tested quickly. Stephen Thibault took the first shot on DePalma and found the back of the net 1:13 after Cafiero’s goal for a 2-0 lead.
“We were basically playing for our season,” Guilford coach Ralph Russo said after his team suffered its ninth straight loss. “We played with our heart in it. It was a hell of an effort with a short-handed bench. It was a good effort against a really good team.”
Playing uninspired hockey, Milford was looking for a spark and got it from White. The senior came down the right wing and fired a shot that snuck by Martins with 4:19 remaining in the middle period.
“We were just looking to put the puck on goal,” Follo said. “That goal turned things around. It was a big goal for us.”
After White hit the post on a breakaway, he got another chance seconds later.
With Milford short-handed, White stole the puck, broke down the left wing, deked Martins and found the back of the net to even the game at 2 with 1:05 remaining in the middle period.
“Today was huge,” White said. “We got the big overtime goal. It was a big win for us.”
Guilford came out flying in the opening period, having plenty of quality scoring opportunities. Freshman forward Ricky Sandella had a great chance early when he fired a shot from the slot just 4:34 in.
Evan Powell was denied from the point less than a minute later by Ericson, Sandella was stopped once again by Ericson in front with 3:15 to go in the opening period, before Ericson came up big again with a save of a Jack Petrick shot from the slot with 2:25 to go.
Milford had its chances as well in the opening period, but Martins made 11 saves. Martins made a great save of a shot by Will Vitelli with 9:04 to go, denied Ben Lavallee in front with 2:04 remaining and stopped Lavallee’s backhander in front again 24 seconds later.
Martins finished with 26 saves for Guilford, while Cafiero had a goal and an assist and Brian Donohue had two assists.