WEST HAVEN — With talented teams playing, it is not often a game plan is put in place and executed to perfection in the postseason.
But, that was exactly the case Wednesday night when second-seeded Notre Dame–West Haven easily defeated No. 15 Simsbury 3-0 at the Edward L. Bennett Rink in the opening round of the CIAC Division I state tournament.
Looking to get off to a quick start, play solid in all phases of the game and clear the puck from in front of its own goal, Notre Dame was flawless in each area of a game dominated from start to finish.
Behind two goals from Kyle Lynch and 17 saves from Wade Conlan, the Green Knights (14-6-1) advanced to the quarterfinals Saturday against New Canaan at a site and time to be determined.
“We limited their shots and I don’t know if they had any second-chance opportunities the entire game,” Notre Dame coach Tim Belcher said. “We went into the game not wanting to give them second chances. We wanted to clear the puck from in front of the net. We did a great job doing that.”
Conlan was the beneficiary of Notre Dame’s game plan as he faced just 17 shots, seven combined in the first two periods, with only a handful of the quality variety.
“This was a big game for us and we will look to build off it,” Conlan said. “The defense deserves a lot of credit tonight.”
Simsbury’s best scoring opportunity came with 4 minutes to go in the second period and the Trojans trailing 2-0. Hunter Chapman broke in alone on Conlan, he made a nice pad save and didn’t allow a rebound in front.
“They are a good hockey team,” Simsbury coach Thomas Cross said after his team closed the season at 7-13-1. “Going in, we knew we were not going to score many goals.
“We had our chances. We had the breakaway down 2-0. That could have given us the needed spark and momentum. Their goalie just came up big.”
The Green Knights took control of the game early, jumping out to a 1-0 lead just 3 minutes, 15 seconds into the contest when Lynch scored off the faceoff for the first of his two goals.
Matt Dumas, who assisted on Lynch’s first-period goal, made another big play 3:32 into the second period. His perfect pass allowed Lynch to one-time a blast past Simsbury goaltender Mike Adorno for a 2-0 lead.
“We all came ready to play,” Lynch said. “We knew what was at stake. That first goal was huge. It got us going.”
Notre Dame, which outshot Simsbury 32-7 in the first two periods and 42-17 in the game, increased the lead to 3-0 with 48.7 seconds left in the middle period. Colin O’Connor assisted on Ryan Lynch’s goal in front for a three-goal lead.
Adorno finished with 39 saves for the Trojans, including 29 in the first two periods. Adorno denied Eric Austin twice in 17 seconds and an end-to-end rush by O’Connor in the first period.
Adorno was just as big in the middle period, making a glove save on Ryan Lynch’s shot off the faceoff with 2:47 to go in the period then denying Kyle Lynch in front and on the rebound 1:34 later.
“We need that effort against whoever we play on Saturday,” Belcher said. “We need to focus on Saturday now.”
Dumas finished with a pair of assists for the Green Knights.
Notre Dame-West Haven 3, Simsbury 0
(at Notre Dame-West Haven)
Simsbury 0 0 0 — 0
Notre Dame-West Haven 1 2 0 — 3
First period—NDWH: Kyle Lynch (Eric Austin) 3:15; Second period—NDWH: Kyle Lynch (Ryan Lynch, Matt Dumas) 3:32; Ryan Lynch (Colin OConnor) 14:12;
Shots—Sims: 17; NDWH: 42;
Saves—NDWH: Wade Conlan 17; Sims: Allen Maxwell 39;
Records—Notre Dame-West Haven 14-5-2;