NEW HAVEN >> If the Branford boys hockey team could press a re-do button today, they would re-do the first four minutes of its CIAC Division II boys hockey semifinal game with Suffield/Granby/Windsor Locks on Monday.
No. 2 Suffield/Granby/Windsor Locks put the pressure on the No. 3 Hornets in the first period with four quick, unanswered goals. Jake Bourdeau had a hat trick in the barrage and his third gave the Wildcats a 4-0 lead at 3:46 and Suffield/Granby/Windsor Locks went to defeat Branford 5-3 at Ingalls Rink.
The Wildcats will face No. 4 North Branford in the state final on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Ingalls Rink. The Thunderbirds defeated No. 1 Conard 4-3 in double overtime in the other semifinal.
“They came out flying and we got caught flat-footed,” Branford coach Adolph Brink said. “They scored some pretty goals early. It was a tough period to overcome. Unfortunately there are no re-dos.
“But we gutted it out, hung in their and battled back. We held tight but it’s a credit to them for holding on. I’m proud of my kids, our kids left everything on the ice.”
The Hornets got one back when Cooper Bunton scored at 7:44 of the first period to cut the lead to 4-1.
Branford dominated the second period and made it a one-goal game. Scott Klouda scored at 2:44 to cut the lead to 4-2 and Bunton scored his second goal on the power play to make it 4-3 Wildcats at 9:06.
The Hornets had chances to tie the game in the third period, but couldn’t get a puck by goalie Shane Kertanis. Tyler Criscuolo had a pair of close shots late in the game but Kertanis made stick saves each time.
Branford senior goalie A.J. Brink, playing in his last game for his dad, Branford coach Adolph Brink, was pulled for a man-advantage with 1:17 left in the game. But the Wildcats Craig Montemerlo scored an empty-net goal with 43 seconds to go to clinch the win at 5-3.
Brink ended up with 29 saves and Kertanis had 30.
Suffield 5, Branford 3
(at New Haven)
Branford 1 2 0 — 3
Suffield 4 0 1 — 5
First period—SUF: Jake Bourdeau (Colin MacDougald) 2:05; Jake Bourdeau (Isaac Stevens, Ryan Ohannessian) 2:16; Jake King 3:04; Jake Bourdeau (Brendan Looney, Colin MacDougald) 3:46; BR: Cooper Bunton (Tyler Criscuolo) 7:44; Second period—BR: Scott Klouda (Zach Withington) 2:44; Cooper Bunton (Zach Withington, Scott Klouda) 9:06; Third period—SUF: Craig Montemerlo (Jake Bourdeau) 14:17;
Shots—BR: 33; SUF: 34;
Saves—BR: AJ Brink 29; SUF: Shane Kertanis 30;
Records—Suffield 18-5; Branford 18-6-1