WEST HAVEN — Pete Lynn and his West Haven teammates are well aware of how big a home game in the postseason is. With four games left in the regular season, the Westies are on the bubble for that home game.
Lynn made sure the Westies took one step toward that goal Monday afternoon when he scored and helped West Haven in a 4-1 victory over Branford at the Edward L. Bennett Rink.
“This is a huge win for us,” Lynn said. “We want to keep going. Hopefully this win gives us a big push forward. We want to get a home game.”
Since losing to Hamden in what may have been West Haven’s worst performance of the season last week, the Westies have rolled off three straight victories and have now won four of their last five to improve to 9-7-1.
“We realize we cannot take any game lightly,” Lynn said. “We have to play hard every game.”
After a scoreless first period, Lynn got the Westies on the board with a power-play goal in the second period.
Alex Scranton got the play going when his drive from the point was stopped by Branford goaltender A.J. Brink. The rebound went right to Lynn who fired in the first goal of the game 2 minutes, 30 seconds into the second period.
“It was a nice goal,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said. “We have been working all year long on trying to simplify it. We want to work it to the point, get a wrist shot on goal and get the rebound. We did that.”
Just 4:02 later, the Westies capitalized on a huge break given by the Hornets.
With Branford trying to move the puck from danger in front, the puck was inadvertently put into the Branford goal by the Hornet defense.
Freshman Alex Lynch was given credit for West Haven’s second goal off an assist from Devin Hines.
Branford (14-3-1) came right back to get within 2-1 when Jason Vitale picked up a rebound in front and beat West Haven goaltender Mike Savino 1:18 later.
“We are playing against a team which plays Fairfield Prep, Notre Dame and those teams every day,” Branford coach Adolph Brink said after his team saw its four-game winning streak snapped. “We were chasing our tail early.”
After A.J. Brink denied Matt Kelly in the slot and Jake Lynch from in close, West Haven took a 3-1 lead when Jaeson Puleo clearly won a faceoff and fired a shot past Brink with 1:38 remaining in the period.
“That was a big goal,” Morrell said.
Branford tried to get back in the game to start the third period, but Savino was on his game with 15 saves in the final 15 minutes.
Savino denied Zach Withington off the left wing 2:11 into the third, stopped Vitale from the slot seconds later, then denied Tyler Martin in front with a pad save with 6:09 to go.
“Mike is really seeing the puck well,” Morrell said of Savino.
Tyler Paine capped West Haven’s scoring with 3:09 to go. After Wyatt Condon dumped the puck down the ice, Brink could not control the puck and Paine picked up the loose puck for a goal and a 4-1 lead.
West Haven controlled the game from the start, outshooting the Hornets 13-4 in the opening period.
Brink came up big several times, stopping Joe Ayala from the slot just 50 seconds in, Donny Froehlich from the point 2 minutes later and a backhander in close from Kevin Coyle with 10:13 to go.
Brink also got some help.
With West Haven swarming, Jake Lynch hit the post with 7 minutes to go in the opening period to keep the game scoreless.
Savino finished with 26 saves, while Brink made 31 saves in the loss.