BRIDGEPORT >> Notre Dame-West Haven and New Canaan each expected another close outcome when the teams met in the Division I state tournament quarterfinals on Saturday.
The Rams won both regular-season meetings by one goal — including one in overtime — and starting goalies MacLean Wright and Wade Conlan of Notre Dame did their best to provide their fans with another nail-biter.
The third time, and the third period, was the charm as Ryan Lynch broke a scoreless tie with 8:12 left in regulation.
Matt Dumas added an empty-net goal and Conlan made 27 saves, withstanding two breakaways in the second period, to lead No. 2 Notre Dame to a 2-0 win over No. 7 New Canaan in front of about 1,000 at Webster Bank Arena.
ND (15-6-1) will face SCC-SWC rival Fairfield Prep in the semifinals on Wednesday at Ingalls Rink at either 5:30 or 7:30 p.m. Prep defeated Glastonbury 4-2 in another quarterfinal.
“New Canaan is a good team that has done a good job containing our forwards this season,” Notre Dame coach Tim Belcher said. “Every time we play it’s a close game, and we all expected that today. The difference today was we did a better job of being aware of Harry Stanton. He single-handedly beat us in the first two games.
“Conlan was unbelievable in goal today, especially on those second-period breakaways. Wade plays the angles well and he came out and aggressively challenged the breakaways. Ryan had a bad angle but saw an opening and was able to shoot it in.”
In the regular season, New Canaan beat ND 4-3 (OT) and 3-2.
In a scoreless first period, both teams had their chances. Conlan made 12 saves in the period and Wright had 11.
The Green Knights’ best chance to score came at 6:45 of the first period when Dumas had a 1-on-1 breakaway down center ice. He deked right and had Wright out of position with an open left side of the net. But Dumas’ shot went wide left.
One of the Rams’ best chances to get a goal in the first came at 2:18. Patrick Hompe took a shot from about six feet in front of Conlan, who made the stick save. The puck rebounded back to Hompe but Conlan made a glove save on Hompe’s rising shot.
The game remained scoreless after two periods thanks to some exciting saves by both goalies. Conlan kept ND in the game by making saves on breakaways by Stanton and Parker Lewis.
“We practice making saves off breakways a lot,” Conlan said. “On the first breakaway in the second period, I just barely got a piece of my pad on the puck to make the save.
“The difference today is we played to the best of our capability and with heart.”
In the third period, Lynch was all alone at the top of the left circle and Colin O’Connor fed him the puck. Lynch fired a low slap shot into the right corner of the net at 6:48 for the 1-0 lead. Dumas added his empty-net goal with 21 seconds remaining.
“We just couldn’t get a puck in the net,” New Canaan coach Bo Hickey said. “We needed one bounce off one shot, but (Conlan) made the saves. They didn’t do anything different today than they did in the first two games. Our goalie made good saves, my kids played their butts off, but our offense just didn’t kick in.”
Wright had 28 saves for the Rams (19-5-1).
Notre Dame-West Haven 2, New Canaan 0
New Canaan 0 0 0 — 0
Notre Dame-West Haven 0 0 2 — 2
Third period—NDWH: Ryan Lynch (Colin OConnor) 6:48; Matt Dumas (Kyle Lynch, Eric Austin) 14:38;
Shots—NCA: 27; NDWH: 29;
Saves—NDWH: Wade Conlan 27; NCA: Maclean Wright 28;
Records—Notre Dame-West Haven 15-6-1; New Canaan 19-5-1
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