WEST HAVEN — Justin Miller heard the Amity coaching staff yell at him with instructions in the final minutes Saturday afternoon.
His coaches told him to park himself in front of the net to see if he could deflect a shot into the net.
“They said stay in front of the net, don’t get pushed around and try and deflect it in front,” Miller said after his power play goal with 2:50 remaining put Amity in front to stay as the Spartans edged the Brookfield-Bethel-Danbury co-op 6-5 on Saturday at Bennett Rink. “That’s exactly what happened.”
What had been an offensive game over the first two periods became a defensive battle until Miller deflected a shot into the top right corner to give Amity a 5-4 lead. Just 34 seconds later, freshman Niko Tournas collected his third goal of the day with a blast from the right circle to give the Spartans an insurance goal.
Amity had to hold its breath in the final 50 seconds after Britton collected his second goal of the afternoon after a Spartan turnover in the defensive zone.
“Kids get caught up in the emotions,” Amity coach Mike Richetelli said. “We had a turnover in the zone and we shouldn’t make that mistake. It was a great shot.”
BBD didn’t get another chance as Amity was able to keep the puck away from the net.
“These guys are mentally tough and we don’t ever give up,” BBD coach Rusty Granacker said. “They never ever quit no matter what the score is.”
Early in the contest, it didn’t long for Amity to get on the board. Just 2:26 into the first period after a rush up ice, Tournas popped the puck past BBD goalie Louie Alfidi to make it 1-0.
The Spartans tacked on another goal less than six minutes later on the first of its four power play goals.
A pass from the right side in front by David Brown went to Jason Dittman, who put the puck in the net just before the net was knocking off its moorings. After a long discussion amongst the officials, the goal was declared good.
At that point, the IceCats pulled Alfidi out of goal, replacing him with sophomore Dino Capilupi.
BBD only needed 36 seconds to cut its deficit in half as Britton scored from the right circle to close it to 2-1 with 6:08 remaining in the opening period.
The second period was an offensive explosion for both sides. After Kyle Boller tied things at 2-2 on a power play goal just 2:38 into the period, Amity came right back with back-to-back power play goals of its own.
Tournas collected the first one just over two minutes later and then Miller added his first goal of the afternoon two minutes after that to give Amity a 4-2.
However, BBD struck right back as Kevin Dykes poked in a rebound to close it to 4-3 with 7:08 left in the second period. And the Ice Cats followed it up with a power play goal of their own with 49 seconds remaining in the period as Kenneth Granacker poked the puck in the net in a scramble in front of the net.
“We had to stay out of the penalty box today,” Richetelli said. “It doesn’t help you when they have that much firepower an extra guy, you’re going to get opportunities. We had to stay away from that and we did it in the third period.”
Amity improved to 4-3 in just its second game after having to be quarantined for two weeks with four games being postponed or cancelled.
“They have a great club and we’re just coming off quarantine,” Richetelli said. “We had a good win Wednesday (2-1 in overtime over Milford) and a good effort today to get ready for the (SCC/SWC) tournament coming up.”
BBD came into Saturday’s game having suffered its first loss of the season Wednesday, 5-1, to Wilton. The IceCats had won their first 10 games, having outscored the opposition, 51-20. They finished the regular season at 10-2.
“This is the fifth Senior Night in a row we’ve competed in,” Granacker said. “It’s always tough right after in the first period on a Senior Night. We discussed after our loss the other night about how to be prepared when the puck is dropped.”