EAST HAVEN — Dan DeConti and his Xavier hockey team had a plan in place entering Saturday’s afternoon tilt with East Haven — putting plenty of shots on goal and containing the Yellowjackets’ top line of Tristan Goodwin, Matt Longobardi and Mike Falanga.
The Falcons did both.
Xavier poured 50 shots on East Haven goaltender Tom DeLucia and held East Haven’s main line to a pair of goals as the Falcons upset the fourth-ranked team in the New Haven Register Top 10 poll, 5-2, at the Patsy Dilungo Rink.
“All of our guys played great today,’’ DeConti said after his team improved to 5-8. “We played together. We had a great game with Fairfield Prep and we played two solid periods today. The third period got away from us a little bit. We need to stay a little more disciplined. But, we did what we had to do to win.”
Despite allowing eight-power play opportunities to the Yellowjackets, the Falcons killed off the final seven, including a five-on-three for 1 minute, 12 seconds with 6:11 remaining and Xavier leading 4-2.
“I think we did a good job with the penalty killing today,” DeConti said. “We need to play with more discipline. We did a good job killing the penalties.”
The Falcons set the tone of the game early despite falling behind 1-0 on a power-play goal by East Haven’s Goodwin with 5:10 gone by in the game. It was Goodwin’s 19th goal of the season.
Trailing by one goal, Sean Johnson fired a shot from the slot and John Burkinshaw picked up the loose puck in front and beat DeLucia1:28 later.
Just 28 seconds later, Xavier led 2-1 when Dustin Braman fed freshman Gordan Gurnell on a two-on-one break and Gurnell beat DeLucia.
“They are a really good offensive team,” East Haven coach Lou Pane said. “They were coming off an overtime loss to Fairfield Prep. We saw their lines were flowing really well. They were clicking on all cylinders.”
The Yellowjackets (12-2) needed just 28 seconds to even the game. Falanga fed Longobardi on a break and Longobardi did the rest, beating Xavier goaltender Ben Guidobono to even the game at 2.
Xavier continued the pressure and if not for the play of DeLucia, the Falcons could have had a bigger lead after one period of play.
“I thought Tom DeLucia played a great game today,” Pane said. “He made 45 saves. I thought he was great.”
The Falcons wasted no time extending the lead in the second period as Andrew Meoli scored the first of his two goals off assists from Johnson and Burkinshaw 2:33 in.
“It was a big goal,” Meoli said. “It was big for us to go on top in the second period. We moved the puck well today and I thought we had great execution.”
The Falcons never let up in the period, firing 19 shots on DeLucia, who made 17 saves in the period but was unable to stop David Piekut who fired a rebound to the top corner with 2:20 remaining in the middle period.
“We took 50 shots,” DeConti said. “That is absolutely great. We want to play consistent hockey. I thought we did a nice job today.”
Xavier’s defense and penalty killing took over from there. The Falcons killed off a two-man advantage in the final period and did not allow a goal in four power-play opportunities in the final period by the Yellowjackets.
Meoli finished with two goals and an assist and Johnson had three assist. The Falcons outshot East Haven 50-30.
East Haven’s top line of Longobardi, Falanga and Goodwin entered the game with 116 points and added five more to the total as Falanga had two assists and Longobardi added one goal and one assist.