WEST HAVEN – With plenty of season still to go, there was no way the Notre Dame hockey team was looking to start with four straight losses. Junior goaltender Brendan Crowley made sure it didn’t happen.
Turning aside 19 shots, including seven in the final period, Crowley led the Green Knights to a 3-0 victory over St. Joseph-Trumbull Friday evening at the Edward L. Bennett Rink in West Haven.
“Our mindset is to take it one game at a time to turn this around,” Crowley said. “We want to take it one game, one period, and one shift at a time. The defense did a great job in front of me. They cleared the puck quickly. They made it a lot easier for me.”
With Crowley starring in goal, senior forward Matthew Ciaburro was the offensive star, scoring twice and adding an assist. Ciaburro gave the Green Knights a 2-0 lead with 3 minutes, 47 seconds remaining in the game when he one-timed a pass from Greg Caturano past St. Joseph goalie Ryan Wilson.
Ciaburro then iced the contest 1:32 later when he took a pass from Liam Hylton and scored into an empty net for a 3-0 lead.
“We were desperate for a win and we got it,” Notre Dame coach Tim Belcher said. “We played like we were desperate. Sometimes when you are desperate, you do things differently. You do things a little faster and a little quicker. We just had to settle down. We were able to use our depth tonight.”
Crowley preserved a one-goal lead in the third period, turning aside a blast from the left point by Jack Pisani 1:30 into the third, then making a brilliant pad save on Kevin Faustich’s shot from the slot 4:15 in.
“Our biggest problem right now is scoring,” St. Joseph coach Ed LeMaire said. “We have to learn how to score. I thought their goalie came up with some big saves.”
The Notre Dame defense made life easy for Crowley through the first two periods, allowing only 12 shots by the Cadets, eight coming in the second period. The Green Knights (1-3) held a 14-8 shot advantage in the middle period and scored the lone goal as well.
“We cleared rebounds,” Belcher said. “When you have a rookie goaltender, he is going to be nervous. I told the guys we can’t be standing around in front. We have to clear the rebounds. We did a good job of that tonight.”
With the Green Knights on the power play, Ciaburro fed junior Hunter Krasnow in the slot and Krasnow quickly beat Wilson with a wrist shot for a 1-0 Notre Dame lead.
Crowley came up big on three separate occasions for the Green Knights, denying Andrew Van Etten from the right faceoff circle 4:22 into the second period, and a redirected shot in front by Christopher Raccuia with 7:58 to go.
“We are top heavy in our schedule right now,” LeMaire said. “Greenwich, Xavier, and Notre Dame are great teams. We are bringing a new style and we are trying to get them to buy in. It takes time. I am proud of the team and how we bounced back.”
The Cadets (0-3) had another golden opportunity turned aside by Crowley with 4:16 left in the period as he stopped an initial shot by Andrew Gilbert in front, then the rebound.
Notre Dame had an opportunity to extend the lead to 2-0 with 5:02 to go in the period, but Caturano shot just wide of the right post. St. Joseph’s Brandon Roselli picked up the puck and raced the other way, but his shot sailed just wide of the left post.
Notre Dame controlled play in the first period, holding a 13-4 shot advantage, but Wilson was up to the task in the first 15 minutes. The junior goaltender made several impressive stops, including two on Ian Hayden with 7:52 left in the period.
Hayden was denied with a left pad save by Wilson while being taken down on a breakaway and was awarded a penalty shot. With a second chance, Hayden went to the back hand on the penalty shot, but was turned aside by a right pad save by Wilson.
The Green Knights continued to mount the pressure, but Wilson, who finished the game with 34 saves, again was up to the task as he denied Clayton Coassin from the left point with 1:52 left in the opening period.
Notre Dame-West Haven 3, St. Joseph 0
(at West Haven)
St. Joseph 0 0 0 – 0
NotreDame-WH 0 1 2 – 3
Second period- NDWH: Hunter Krasnow (Matt Ciaburro) 11:30; Third period- NDWH: Matt Ciaburro (Clayton Coassin, Greg Caturano) 3:47; Matt Ciaburro (Liam Hylton) 2:15; Shots- SJ: 19; NDWH: 37; Saves- NDWH: Brendan Crowley 19; SJ: Ryan Wilson 34;
Records- Notre Dame-West Haven 1-3; St. Joseph 0-3.