EAST HAVEN — When Milford’s Zach White steps on the ice, opponents know where he is. Seeing him is one thing. Stopping him is another.
Scoring four goals and combining with his linemates Will Vitelli and Ben Lavallee for 10 points, White and the Indians defeated Guilford 7-4 Thursday night at the Patsy DiLungo Rink in East Haven.
Milford inched closer to the .500 mark with the win, improving to 3-4-1 while Guilford fell to 1-5.
“This is huge for us,” White said. “We (linemates) have all been playing together for so long. We really have good chemistry together.”
With the game even at 2 after Guilford scored twice in a span of 1 minute, 45 seconds in the second period, White put the team on his shoulders. Picking up a loose puck in front White went top shelf with 2:55 remaining in the second period to give Milford a lead it never relinquished.
Just 1:30 later, White and the Indians struck again.
With an assist to Jarrod Butts, White beat Guilford goaltender Hunter Martins off the glove for a 4-2 lead with 1:25 left in the middle period.
“It was big to have the lead there,” White said. “We know they are always good. This was a really big game and a big win for us.”
Milford continued to pull away in the third period when Andrew Gobany scored off an assist from Tommy Sampson 56 seconds in. To Guilford’s credit, Tyler Salkins needed only 27 seconds to make it a two-goal game once again.
“The biggest thing we have to learn as a team is how to manage the situation of a game,” Guilford coach Ralph Russo said. “When we have turnovers, teams score on us. There’s a lesson to be learned there. We have to handle the puck better to win some games.”
Lavallee, who scored twice and added a pair of assists, gave Milford a 6-3 lead with 11:07 to go when he beat Martins off an assist from Vitelli.
The three-goal lead held up until 3:04 remained. With Guilford on the power play, Russo pulled Martins for an extra skater. White capitalized, blasting a long shot into an empty net for a 7-3 lead.
“Zach White had another stellar game as usual,” Milford coach Sal Follo said. “This was not one of our better performances coming off a win against North Branford. We always know this is going to be a battle. The kids just kept coming and coming.
“We played good enough to win. We have to step up a little bit better overall.”
After a scoreless first period in which Martins and Milford goaltender John DePalma made big saves, the two teams combined for six goals in the second period.
Lavallee got things going when he set up White for a breakaway opportunity 16 seconds into the middle period. White made no mistake as his backhander beat Martins for a 1-0 lead.
Lavallee then gave his team a 2-0 lead with hard work. Picking up a loose puck on the left boards, Lavallee skated in on Martins and blasted a shot home for a 2-0 lead with 4:14 gone by in the second period.
Guilford did not back down and scored twice to even the game. Brian Donohue set up Jack Petrick to cut the Milford lead to 2-1 with 6:33 remaining in the middle period and Evan Powell’s shot from the point was deflected in front past DePalma to even the game on the power play with 4:48 remaining.
DePalma made 18 saves for Milford, while Martins finished with 17 saves for Guilford.