BRIDGEPORT — When Notre Dame-West Haven needed Connor Smith to hold the fort in the first period, the junior goalie was there.
Even later on, Smith made big saves at Webster Bank Arena on Friday night, keeping the No. 2 Green Knights out front in a 3-0 win over No. 10 Notre Dame-Fairfield in the Connecticut Ice Boys Hockey Showcase.
“Connor Smith is arguably the best goalie in the state. We’re very fortunate to have him,” Green Knights coach Larry Vieira said. “He brought us to the (Division I) final last year, and he’s doing the same this year.
“He’s calm, cool and collected. He’s definitely our MVP.”
Smith finished with 28 saves, a few of them on a five-minute penalty kill in the first period, to earn the shutout.
“Our defense just kept puck out. We did a really good job clearing the guys out in front, and we killed the five-minute penalty,” Smith said. “They gave me great sightlines, so it was easy to see the puck, and they blocked a lot of shots.”
Joe D’Agostino put the Green Knights (9-3) up before the end of the first period. Mike Pilato (going down in front of the net) and Bobby Allan (power play) tacked on in the third period.
That five-minute power play came 4:19 into the game after the Green Knights’ John D’Errico was called for a major and a game misconduct for contact to the head of Lancers forward Mike Ceneri.
Ceneri’s helmet came off on the hit, and he remained down awhile. He appeared to be bleeding as he was helped to the dressing room.
Lancers coach Rich Minnix said Ceneri was getting stitches after the game but appeared to be doing all right otherwise.
“It was very hard for the guys to get going on the five-minute penalty,” Minnix said. “A guy like Mike Ceneri, our workhorse on the team: They were probably a little in shock on the first half of that (power play).”
The Lancers (5-6-1), whose roster was already well shorter than the Green Knights’, were further short-handed Friday night. Goalie Nick Piselli, who transferred from Notre Dame-West Haven last year, was out ill, and a few others were sick or injured.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Notre Dame-West Haven goalie Connor Smith made 28 saves and seemed to be in full control of the game.
Smith’s biggest stride from last year, Vieira said, is “belief in himself. He didn’t believe in himself last year. He had to beat out two talented goalies, one junior, one senior. Once he got that confidence, he’s taken off from there.
“Everyone told him for years, he’s too short (listed 5-foot-7), not good enough. Well, he’s big enough, and he’s good enough.”
Lancers goalie Reagin Gallagher made 38 saves. The first two goals were from close range, and the third banked in off a defender.
“(Gallagher and Piselli) are 1A/1B, and they’re both going to compete,” Minnix said.
“We talked about making it a 45-minute game. … They’re down in numbers. They don’t have the depth we do. We want to play a 45-minute game. Of course, we turned it into a 40-minute-or-less game. that was a gigantic (penalty) kill.” —Notre Dame-West Haven coach Larry Vieira, on the early major-penalty kill