WEST HAVEN — For three years, Notre Dame-West Haven senior forward Matt Dumas has played in the West Haven Holiday tournament, winning the title the first two years.
Dumas was not about to let an opportunity to play in a third straight title game slip away.
Scoring twice and adding an assist, Dumas helped the Green Knight score four unanswered goals to defeat Xavier 4-1 at the Edward L. Bennett Rink Thursday night.
With the win, Notre Dame (3-1) advances to the tournament final where the Green Knights will play Glastonbury Saturday night at 7 p.m.
“This is huge for us,” Dumas said after finishing with two goals and an assist. “This is the third year of the tournament and we have won both. We would like to go out with three.”
Dumas helped turn the game around for the Green Knights with 4 minutes, 14 seconds remaining in the opening period.
Trailing 1-0 on a goal by Xavier’s Andrew Meoli 2:13 earlier, Dumas turned the momentum of the game in Notre Dame’s favor for good.
After a sluggish start, the Green Knights were sparked when Ryan Lynch sent a perfect pass across the crease to Dumas, who quickly beat Xavier goaltender Ben Guidobono to even the game at 1.
“I thought the goal was huge,” Dumas said. “We came out a little sluggish. We were not making plays. I thought we got the momentum after the goal. It lit a fire underneath us.”
The Green Knights had a golden opportunity to take the lead just before the intermission, but Ryan Lynch’s shot stuck under Guidobono, keeping the game even after one period of play.
“I was happy with the way the guys played minus seven or eight minutes in the first period,” Notre Dame coach Tim
Belcher said. “They came out flying and we didn’t. They were ready to play and we were still having Christmas dinner at the table. We need to get off to better starts.”
Xavier coach Dan DeConti was pleased with the way his team started the game, but felt a lack of fluidity to the game hurt his team.
“We could not get into any rhythm when we were on the penalty kill so much,” DeConti said. “We talked about how we had to be better disciplined.”
The Falcons gave the Green Knights five power-play opportunities in the contest and Notre Dame capitalized twice, including a second period goal that gave the Green Knights the lead for good.
Ryan Lynch did the honors for Notre Dame as he went the length of the ice and beat Guidobono for a 2-1 lead with 6:31 remaining in the middle period.
“The Lynchs, Dumas, they can play hockey,” Belcher said. “They are hockey players. They have that instinct. You can’t teach that type of instinct.”
The Green Knights hung on to the two-goal lead until the third period. After Ryan Lynch was denied in front 28 seconds into the final period and Kyle Lynch was denied on a short-handed bid 2:30 in, the Green Knights finally increased the margin with 5:13 remaining in the third period.
On the power play for the fifth time in the game, the Green Knights capitalized when Colin O’Connor one-timed a shot past Guidobono for a 3-1 lead.
“I thought we played well,” DeConti said. “This team is kind of still learning how to play. Five on five, it is a 1-1 game. They got two power-play goals and an empty-net goal. We talked about how we couldn’t take penalties against this team. We did not stay disciplined enough.
“We were supposed to throw everything at them. We could not get anything going.”
Dumas clinched the game for the Green Knights with an empty-net goal with 13.4 seconds remaining off assists from Kyle Lynch and Ryan Lynch.
Ryan Lynch finished with a goal and two assists, while Kyle Lynch had three assists.