WEST HAVEN >> Notre Dame-West Haven had a 13-day layoff to prepare for its highly anticipated matchup with cross-town rival West Haven on Saturday.
The game plan was simple — pepper West Haven goalie Mike Savino, who has developed into one of the best netminders in the state, with 50 shots.
While the Green Knights fell short of 50, the 36 shots they did manage did the trick. Joe Ansaldo scored an unassisted goal at 8:20 of the third period, the only goal of the period, to lead No. 7 Notre Dame-West Haven to a 3-2 SCC-SWC Division I win over No. 8 West Haven at Bennett Rink.
Ansaldo’s goal came after a faceoff in the left circle in front of Savino, who did his best to keep the Blue Devils in the game with 33 saves. Alec Andreucci took the faceoff for Notre Dame and sent the puck to Ansaldo at the bottom of the circle. As soon as the puck hit his stick he sent it toward Savino and it bounced off the goalie and into the net.
“Just before Andreucci took the faceoff he told me the puck was going to come my way,” Ansaldo said. “As soon as I got the puck off the faceoff, my only thought was to put it on net. I just shot toward the goalie and thankfully it went in.
“This was a big win for our team coming off another big win over Hamden (on Jan. 25). Now we have some momentum and we want to keep it going.”
In the first period, the Green Knights (6-5-2) outshot the Blue Devils 16-10 and took a 1-0 lead. Matt Ciaburro, camped out in front of the right post, took a pass from Greg Caturano. Ciaburro’s backhanded shot got by Savino to break the scoreless tie at 3:50.
But the Blue Devils (6-5-1) came out in the second period fired up and took a 2-1 lead. West Haven’s Donny Froehlich scored off of a two-on-two breakaway from the left wing to tie the game at 1 just 50 seconds into the period. Jeremy Borelli gave West Haven a 2-1 lead at 4:25. Peter Richetelli took a slap shot from the right circle and Borelli re-directed it into the left corner of the net.
“Our game plan was to just do our best to be in the game and keep it close until the end,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said. “Mike kept us there with some big saves. Scoring those two goals in the second period was big for us because it gave us some momentum, and momentum is a big part of our game.
“We went into the third period knowing that whoever made the first mistake would probably end up losing the game.”
Doug Caliendo would provide the equalizer, setting up Ansaldo’s heroics. Caliendo grabbed a loose puck at the red line and skated all alone toward Savino. Caliendo deked left and shot the puck inside the right post to tie the game at 2 at 9:02 of the second period.
“This was a great game, a hard-fought clean game with no penalties,” Notre Dame-West Haven coach Tim Belcher said. “Savino was good in net for West Haven, but Wade (Conlan) was solid too, and made big saves for us.
“I think Ansaldo caught Savino a little off guard when he got the puck and took a shot right off the faceoff. The puck trickled off his pad and into the net.”
Conlan made 19 saves for the Green Knights.
Notre Dame-West Haven 3, West Haven 2
(at West Haven)
Notre Dame-West Haven 1 1 1 — 3
West Haven 0 2 0 — 2
First period—NDWH: Matt Ciaburro (Liam Hylton, Greg Caturano) 3:50; Second period—WH: Donny Froehlich (Wyatt Condon) 0:50; Jeremy Borelli (Kevin Coyle, Peter Richetelli) 4:25; NDWH: Doug Caliendo 9:02; Third period—NDWH: Joe Ansaldo (unassisted) 8:20.
Records—West Haven 6-5-1; Notre Dame-West Haven 6-5-2.