EAST HAVEN >> The Division I first-round game between East Haven and West Haven shaped up as your classic defense versus offense showdown. Defense has been the strength of the Blue Devils this season, led by goalie Mike Savino, and the Easties’ first line led that team’s high-octane offense.
On Wednesday night, the edge went to the offense. East Haven’s first line of Matt Longobardi, Mike Falanga and Tristan Goodwin, which totaled 195 points this season, once again went on the attack in the opponent’s end of the ice.
The trio tallied 13 points, led by Longobardi’s hat trick and three assists, as No. 8 East Haven defeated No. 9 West Haven 7-2 in front of 750 at DiLungo Rink. Goodwin added two goals and an assist and Falanga had four assists for the Easties (17-4) as the top-scoring line in the state is now up to 208 points.
East Haven will face SCC-SWC rival and No. 1-ranked Notre Dame-Fairfield in the quarterfinals on Saturday at a site and time to be determined. Notre Dame defeated No. 16 St. Joseph 7-2 in another first-round game.
“West Haven is a defensive team and we’re an offensive team, so it was important for us to jump out early,” East Haven coach Lou Pane said. “When we went ahead 2-0, I think that put them on their heels. Any time you play a Joe Morrell-coached team you’re in for a battle. He always has those West Haven players ready to play.
“Longobardi really got to the rebounds tonight. He did everything right. That first line just keeps proving that hard work pays off.”
Longobardi got the party started for the Easties with a short-handed goal at 6:41 of the first period. Goodwin added a power-play goal with 1:06 left to take a 2-0 lead at the first intermission.
Longobardi wasted no time in padding the score, scoring off a rebound 18 seconds into the second period for a 3-0 lead. Goodwin scored his second goal at 3:15 to make it 4-0.
Peter Lynn gave the West Haven fans some hope with 1:01 left in the second to cut the lead to 4-1, but the Westies’ momentum was short-lived. In the third period, Dylan Butler scored at 1:00 and Longobardi’s third goal came at 3:03 to make it 6-1.
“The game plan was to jump on them quick and that short-handed goal really got us going,” Longobardi said. “They’re known for their tough defense and their goalie played well tonight and made some good saves to keep them in the game.
“It was really great for our line to get our 200th point. The three of us set that as a goal in the preseason. It’s the result of no days off and a lot of hard work.”
Savino ended up with 41 saves and East Haven goalie Tom Delucia stopped 27 shots.
The Westies also had to play without one of their best defenseman as Alex Scranton missed the final two games with a broken collarbone.
“Mike (Savino) did a great job out there for us, but their first line is tough,” Morrell said. “I told the kids after the game I was proud of them. We won 11 games this season and we did it the blue collar way with hard work.”
East Haven 7, West Haven 2
(at East Haven)
West Haven 0 1 1 — 2
East Haven 2 2 3 — 7
First period—EH: Matt Longobardi 6:41; Tristan Goodwin (Mike Falanga, Matt Longobardi) 13:54; Second period—EH: Matt Longobardi (Jake DelGuidice) :18; Tristan Goodwin (Matt Longobardi, Mike Falanga) 3:15; WH: Peter Lynn (Alex Lynch, Jaeson Puleo) 13:59; Third period—EH: Dylan Butler (Nick Latella) 1:00; Matt Longobardi (Mike Falanga, Tristan Goodwin) 3:03; WH: Kevin Coyle (Tyler Paine) 5:44; EH: Dylan Butler (Mike Falanga, Matt Longobardi) 11:28;
Shots—WH: 29; EH: 48;
Saves—EH: Tom DeLucia 27; WH: Mike Savino 41; Joe Bepko 0;
Records—East Haven 17-4; West Haven 11-9-1