DARIEN — Notre Dame-Fairfield always seemed to have a body in the way all Saturday evening at Darien Ice House, have a skate there to block a shot, have a stick in a passing lane. But then Sam Augustine found something unusual and welcome in the offensive zone in overtime.
“It felt really spacious,” said Augustine, a senior New Canaan boys hockey forward, who almost used too much room. “I had a lot of space walking in. I got to the back door.”
Nick Megdanis’ first try to get Augustine the puck, naturally, was blocked; Lancers defenseman Aaron Martino denied it. The puck came back to Megdanis, Megdanis found Augustine at the right of the net, and the righty-shooting Augustine hit the open side from an awful angle 1:33 into overtime for a 3-2 New Canaan win.
“Going in, I knew we had a good chance,” Augustine said. “We were all over them all game. I felt like we were going to win.”
— Michael Fornabaio (@fornabaioctp) January 5, 2020
The Rams (4-1), who had 21 skaters dressed to Notre Dame’s 11, utilized that depth to outshoot the Lancers 38-18. But the preseason No. 7 team in the state didn’t lead a moment while the clock was running, and it fell behind to Notre Dame midway through the first period on Mike Ceneri’s first goal of two.
Boden Gammill sent it to overtime off a broken faceoff play with 2:29 remaining in regulation after trying to get the puck to Shane Mettler.
“It was kind of a funny play,” Gammill said. “It got back to me, and I just shot.”
Notre Dame junior Reagin Gallagher didn’t give them much else. The Rams tied it at 1-1 on Jack Johnson’s goal, the rebound on a three-on-two, 2:38 into the third period, but Ceneri gave the Lancers (4-2) the lead back with 4:59 left.
“It started with Reagin Gallagher. He played awesome in net,” Notre Dame coach Rich Minnix said. “Shot after shot, making secondary saves.
“I couldn’t be prouder (of the team).”
The short-handed Lancers blocked shots, worked hard (Kevin Barrett ground away 30 seconds of a Rams power play, keeping the puck in the New Canaan end) and gave themselves a chance.
And that took nothing away from the Rams, who were doing all they could.
“I loved the way we were playing,” New Canaan coach Clark Jones said. “It was similar to the Immaculate game (a 4-2 Rams win a week earlier). We played this incredible high-pressure first period, possessed the puck like 90 percent, similar to today.
“I was just saying, the game of hockey is funny. You can dominate long periods of time, and yet you’re losing. For us as coaches, to the kids’ credit, they didn’t get rattled. Stick with what you’re doing, and it’s going to happen. Unfortunately for us, it happened a little late.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Sam Augustine went to the net and buried the winner.
The Lancers had one forward out injured and another ill Saturday, but they also have three talented players waiting out the first 10 games of the season under the CIAC’s transfer rule.
“The guys we have right now are good enough to win hockey games,” Minnix said. “When we get those couple of guys back, we’re going to be a special hockey team.”
Sure, depth, but New Canaan was missing a co-captain, defenseman Bennett Ong, out for a medical reason; he’s expected back this week.
“We just know (offense will come). We have a bunch of confidence. We can play all four lines, six defensemen, stud goalie. We just wanted to wear them down … and execute at the end.” — New Canaan forward Boden Gammill