HARTFORD >> Tyler MacLean scored the game-winning goal with 6 minutes left in the third period and junior goalkeeper Kyle Thibodeaux made 28 saves as Glastonbury edged Xavier, 2-1, Wednesday night in the opening round of the CIAC Division I state tournament at Trinity’s Koeppel Community Sports Center.
The No. 6 Tomahawks (17-6) advanced to play No. 3 Fairfield Prep (13-4-3) in Saturday’s quarterfinals.
Trailing 2-1 with under a minute to play, Xavier, which was on a power play, pulled goalkeeper Ben Guidobono for a 6-on-4 advantage. The Falcons, especially forwards Sean Johnson, David Piekut and Andrew Meoli, nearly got the equalizer but Thibodeaux was able to cover up the puck in the thrilling final seconds.
“The ending was the same way the whole game was,” said Xavier coach Dan Deconti. “There were a lot of pucks out front and Thibodeaux stood on his head. He made a ton of great saves from in close. He came up huge.”
Just a couple of minutes earlier, Thibodeaux made a sensational glove save on Johnson’s game-tying scoring bid.
“We all know what it takes at this time of the year,” said Glastonbury coach Ken Barse. “Your goalie has to come up and play his ‘A’ game and you have to go out and execute your plays. Our defense did a great job tonight just manning up the one-on-one rushes and blocking shots. Pucks were lying there and our guys came in and picked it up.”
Glastonbury took a 1-0 lead on Pat Conley’s power play goal with just 16.2 seconds left in the first period.
Thibodeaux thwarted big scoring chances from Xavier’s Bryan Stanton and Brendan Howe in the second period. Piekut also hit the post late in the second.
The No. 11 Falcons finally tied it early in the second period when Chris Connelly lifted a backhander over Thibodeaux’s shoulder. Hunter Wilcox had the assist on Connelly’s power play score.
“We knew coming in it was going to be a tight, physical game,” said Deconti. “I thought we executed the game plan exactly the way we needed too. The bounces just didn’t go in for us.”
After getting a nice pass from Conley on a 2-on-1 breakaway, MacLean made a nifty move around Guidobono for the game-winning goal.
“It was just the perfect play because Pat Conley had the poise in the neutral zone to grab the puck, take a look, and find open ice,” said Barse. “And Tyler goes out every night and tries to win the game. He doesn’t play scared or not to lose. And tonight he went out and won the game for us.”
Guidobono finished with 20 saves for Xavier (7-11-2).
“At the beginning of the year everybody had written us off, sort of, and the kids came together and surprised a lot of people,” said Deconti. “We had guys who never played defense before and they stepped up and filled a huge gap for us. I’m very proud of the way we played.”