WEST HAVEN >> On its way to 11 wins this season, the Xavier hockey team has run into a few bumps in the road with early game deficits.
While the Falcons have found ways to battle back and not let the deficits affect outcomes of those games, the pattern nearly cost them in a key match up against Notre Dame-West Haven.
Chase Maxwell and Tyler Grillo bailed the Falcons out as their third period goals rallied the Falcons to a 3-3 tie with the Green Knights in a Southern Connecticut Conference Division I contest at the Edward L. Bennett Rink Wednesday evening.
“We have battled back plenty of times before this season, so we know we can do it,” Xavier coach Dan DeConti said.
“The problem is, we are getting closer to the postseason and we have to find a way to not be in that position. You don’t play hockey for a period-and-a-half against Notre Dame and that is what happens.”
Notre Dame (8-6-1), ranked fifth in the New Haven Register/GameTimeCT top 10 poll, jumped out to a 3-1 lead after two periods, before the second-ranked Falcons fought back in the third period with a pair of goals to force overtime.
Just 1 minute, 59 seconds into the third period, Maxwell took a pass from Michael Agruso and snapped a shot past Notre Dame goaltender Liam Connell to get the Falcons within one goal. Xavier (11-3-1) continued to mount the pressure, only to be denied by Connell.
That pressure finally paid off with 1:26 remaining in regulation. Taking a pass from Aden Hothckiss, Grillo fired a shot which eluded Connell for the equalizer.
“I thought we played very well tonight,” Notre Dame coach Tim Belcher said. “We were missing some guys and other guys stepped up. It is a team game, and everybody has to step up into different roles. I thought we played hard.”
The Green Knights were playing without five regulars, out with sickness and injuries, and others who were forced to miss the contest.
Greg Caturano and the Green Knights dominated the opening two periods with 30 shots on goal, and took a 3-1 lead after 30 minutes of play on a pair of goals by Caturano.
The Green Knights scored twice in the middle period as a result of crisp passing. Hunter Krasnow was at the center of both second period goals as he set up Michael Ansaldo 2:02 in and Caturano 2:38 later.
Krasnow’s first assist of the period came when he found Ansaldo by the right hash marks and Ansaldo beat Xavier goaltender Jared Guidobono to the lower left corner for a 2-1 lead.
Along with Ian Hayden, Krasnow used quick passing to find Caturano alone in front. Caturano did the rest with a quick shot by Guidobono for a 3-1 lead 4:40 into the middle period.
“We had guys step up and we were able to jump out to the lead,” Belcher said. “The guys adapted and played hard.”
Caturano actually had two opportunities for the hat trick in the middle period, but saw a shot from in front sail wide with 4:15 left in the period, and had another opportunity in front stopped by Guidobono with 2:33 left in the period.
“He (Guidobono) has been phenomenal all year,” DeConti said. “He has been huge for us. I can’t ask for anything more from him. He made several tough saves again for us tonight.”
Each team scored in the opening period.
The Green Knights wasted no time taking a 1-0 lead as Caturano picked up a loose puck in his own zone, raced down the right wing and fired a shot past Guidobono to the lower left corner just 1:01 into the game.
“As all teams can say, we are a better team when we score first,” Belcher said. “We get a little confidence going.”
After each team was denied a pair of scoring opportunities, the Falcons tied it with 7:38 remaining in the opening period. After a scramble in front, Austin Reid picked up a loose puck and buried it past Connell to even the game at one.
Anthony DiPreta and Brett Reid picked up assists on the equalizer.
Guidobono finished with 42 saves for Xavier, while Connell made 37 saves for the Green Knights.
Xavier 3, Notre Dame-West Haven 3 (OT)
(at West Haven)
Xavier 1 0 2 0 — 3
Notre Dame-WH 1 2 0 0 — 3
First period—NDWH: Greg Caturano 01:01; XV: Austin Reid (Brett Reid, Tony DiPreta) 07:22; Second period—NDWH: Mike Ansaldo (Connor Morgan, Hunter Krasnow) 02:02; Greg Caturano (Ian Hayden, Hunter Krasnow) 04:40; Third period—XV: Chase Maxwell (Mike Agruso) 01:59; Tyler Grillo (Aden Hotchkiss) 13:34;
Shots—XV: 40; NDWH: 45;
Saves—NDWH: Liam Connell 37; XV: Jared Guidobono 42;
Records—Notre Dame-West Haven 8-6-1; Xavier 11-3-1
Video via WTNH / Sportzedge.com