When Amity hockey Coach Gary Lindgren looked back at his team’s 3-0 Southern Connecticut Conference Division 1 loss to Fairfield Prep on Wednesday night at the Bennett Rink in West Haven, he recalled his team’s inability to score during a 4 minute span of the first period when it had a 2 man advantage.
According to Lindgren, “It is unusual for Prep to take 3 penalties in a row. Not cashing in on the long 5-on-3 was huge. We had some good whacks but didn’t score. Prep was up 1-0 and we had a golden opportunity to get the equalizer. Had we scored then, it would have also given us a lot of confidence.”
The Jesuits (who ended the regular season with a 17-3 overall record and 7-2 in the SCC) took a 1-0 lead when David White, who was camped just to the right of the Spartan goal, took a feed from Co-captain David Puffer and flipped it past Amity goalie Alec Mansfield with 5 minutes, 47 seconds gone in the first period.
At 10:12 Puffer went to the penalty box for holding. White joined him for elbowing at 10:36, giving Amity its first 5-on-3. The Spartans died come close to scoring on the power play as Joe Bianchi rifled a shot that banged off a goal post and caromed away. Just seconds after Puffer returned to the ice, Nick Downing was penalized for cross checking, giving Amity another 5-on-3 advantage. Once again the Jesuits (currently ranked No. 2 in the state poll) were able to kill off both penalties without giving up a short-handed goal.
“We had our best chances during the first period,” Lindgren said. “I knew this would be a game based on skill and also knew that our guys had to believe that we could play with Prep. We fought hard and never gave up, but we were up against one of the top teams in the state and they outscored us 3-0.”
Fairfield Prep also outshot Amity 30-15. The Spartans were 0-5 on the power play.
Set up on pin point passes for White and A.J. Unker, Puffer banged home a power play goal from deep in the slot at 6:47 of the second period. After Mansfield blocked Puffer’s original shot, the rebound skipped right over to the stick of David Griffin and he drilled it home at 11:12 of the second session. With his goal and 2 assists against Amity, Puffer, the Jesuits’ top scorer, has now recorded 16 goals and 18 assists (34 points).
Lindgren added, “Fairfield Prep has great puck control. Their passing is also outstanding. They keep moving and know how to find the open man. I think we frustrated them by being really physical and giving them some big hits during the first period but then they regrouped during the second period and scored those 2 goals. While everybody talks about Prep’s balanced offense, people tend to overlook that they are also a strong, solid defensive team that has a sharp goalie (Co-Captain John Galiani). It’s a team without any noticeable weak spots. We played respectable hockey today but lost 3-0 to a better team.”
Mansfield recorded 27 saves while Galiani needed to make only 15.
AMITY ITEMS: Amity ends the regular season with a 9-10-1 record. As things now stand, the Spartans will open state tournament play next week at 4th ranked St. Joseph of Trumbull. That first round contest would be played at the Shelton Twin Rinks. This would be the third Cadet-Spartan meeting of the winter. St., Joseph won the first 2 games by scores of 5-0 and 5-2.
Bianchi jammed his wrist during the second period and was taken to a local hospital for X-rays. The extent of his injury is not known.
Amity’s top scorers are: Corey Shea (14 goals, 18 assists—32 points), Zak Dykun (7 goals, 22 assists—29 points, and Bianchi (17 goals, 9 assists—26 points).