BRIDGEPORT — If it was going to be the kind of mid-February hockey game where a team needed everyone pulling on the rope, Fairfield Prep goalie Andrew Stietzel saw a little bit of mid-March in it.
“That’s the type of stuff you need at the Whale,” the senior said after a 3-1 win over Ridgefield at the Wonderland of Ice, and he’s referring to the CIAC semifinals and finals at Ingalls Rink. “Get it going early and hopefully we can get hot at the right time of year.”
The Jesuits (8-6-2), ranked No. 2 in the GameTimeCT boys hockey top 10 poll, played without a couple of regulars in the first period and fell behind on a Kees van Wees goal with 5:35 left in the second period for No. 6 Ridgefield (10-6).
Mason Whitney scored 1:52 later to tie it, and 1:09 after that, senior forward Tyler Woods’ first varsity goal proved to be the game-winner.
“They answered, and they answered hard and fast, two quick ones,” Ridgefield coach Shaun Gallagher said. “They put us right on our heels. In some of the areas that are really important, they competed harder than we did. They earned that win.”
Fairfield Prep outshot Ridgefield 30-19 in all and opened the game with a surge, spending a lot of time in the Tigers end despite a bit of a short bench early. A few regulars sat out the first period, Jesuits coach Matt Sather said, because they’d been ill and missed practice. Assistant coach Rudy Mauritz was out sick, too.
The Jesuits had an apparent goal disallowed 1:22 into the game because the Ridgefield net was off its moorings, and they had another early shot hit a post.
“The first five or six minutes of the game, we played really well. We got a couple of bad bounces that went the other way,” Sather said.
“It’s been tough for us to get our momentum back when those things have happened so far this year, but today was the day we were able to do it, and I thought we closed out the game and the third period really well.”
— Michael Fornabaio (@fornabaioctp) February 13, 2020
Matt Wenger’s third-period goal put it away.
Matt Silliman stopped 27 shots for Ridgefield. Stietzel made 18 saves.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
With a little shorter bench than usual, getting contributions from everyone was critical for Fairfield Prep, and Tyler Woods scored his first varsity goal, finishing a scramble in front.
“When Tommy Quinn got hurt this weekend, we really had to go to our depth line: (Aaron) Wong scored his first goal against Delbarton,” Sather said. “It’s good, this time of year, to get contributions from everybody. It shows how far they’ve come and how hard they’re working.”
Quinn could be back as soon as Saturday against No. 3 Notre Dame-West Haven, Sather said, but if not, they’re hopeful he’ll be good to go next week.
Kevin McNicholas, normally a top defenseman for Ridgefield, played forward.
“We’ve got to score more goals. We’ve got to score more than one to win a game,” Gallagher said.
The Tigers have scored 10 goals in six games against current top-10 teams, including a 2-1 loss to Fairfield Prep in the season opener on Dec. 18, and most of the 10 came in a 6-1 win over Notre Dame-Fairfield.
“Kevin’s a phenomenal player. He can adapt to wherever we put him on the ice. We’re going to use him wherever it’ll help our team. He’s willing to do whatever it takes.”
Gallagher figured that was the third time they’ve done it.
“He looks really natural,” the coach said. “He looks good.”
“No excuses; everybody’s got something. Every team has guys that are out. This is just part of the process; no excuse on that for us. We’re actually as healthy as we’ve been in a while. “ — Gallagher