EAST HAVEN – Forty-six seconds is all it took for New Fairfield/Immaculate to score and take a 1-0 lead over Guilford.
But that was all that NFI would put on the board Saturday night as Guilford scored the next three goals to post a 3-1 victory in a Southern Connecticut Conference/Southwest Conference Division II hockey contest at the Patsy DiLungo Rink.
The win pushed Guilford to 6-1 in the SCC/SWC and 11-2 overall. NFI is 5-1 in the SCC/SWC and 9-2-1 overall.
“We knew going into the game they were a good team with an outstanding goalie,” Guilford coach Ralph Russo said. “I was happy with the focus of the team. We controlled the puck well tonight and generated some scoring chances.”
Right from the opening faceoff, NFI put a ton of pressure on Guilford’s defense. Just 46 seconds into the game, Matt Carlucci fired a blast from just beyond the blue line in front of the Guilford bench that eluded Guilford goaltender Kyle Dwyer’s glove side and went into the top right corner of the net.
“It wasn’t the start you want to get off to against a good team,” Russo said. “They did exactly what you want to do to start a game off. Kyle was obstructed a little by our defense and just couldn’t pick it up right. By the time he did, it was in the net.”
It remained 1-0 for 8 ½ minutes until Joe Delucia banged in a rebound off NFI goalie Shane Conciatore. That came on a power play with NFI’s Danny Manning in the penalty box.
Guilford was the benefactor of another penalty whistled on Manning for hooking late in the second period. The Indians worked the puck around to Joey Neleber, who ripped a slapshot from the left point that went in between the legs of Conciatore to make it 2-1 with 1:22 remaining in the period.
In the early minutes of the third period, NFI again pressured Guilford’s defense and pushed deeper and deeper into Guilford’s end of the ice. Dwyer made a couple sprawling saves with just under three minutes remaining in the game as the Indians retained the one-goal margin.
“It certainly made everyone’s hearts beat faster on our bench,” Russo said. “Kyle lost his stick and they were pressuring him, but he made the saves.”
After that, NFI really didn’t get another solid scoring chance.
“In the third period, we turned the tide, but at this level you can’t play one period and expect to win the game,” NFI coach Larry Vieira said.
With 37.2 seconds left in the game, Ring was trying to clear the puck from out of his own end of the ice, but he caught a big break when the puck rolled right into the NFI open net.
“Guilford took the body and was more physical than us,” Vieira said. “This is a little bit of a learning curve for us and I call it ‘Big Boy Hockey’. We have to learn to take the body, win the battles and be a little more physical.”
Guilford outshot NFI, 30-17. Dwyer made 16 saves for the Indians, while Conciatore stopped 27 shots for NFI.