NEW HAVEN -- The excuses were there.
Youth, an early deficit and the incredible performance put on by opposing goaltender Michael Colon were all reasons Fairfield Prep could have walked away without another boys hockey championship Saturday afternoon. Yet, the Jesuits, who returned only five players with championship experience from a year ago, refused all of them. They refused and persisted until yet again, the Division I boys hockey championship was theirs.
Six minutes into overtime, Vincent D'Amore blasted a slapshot from the right point to deliver Fairfield Prep a 2-1 title victory over Darien Saturday at Ingalls Rink. Colon snared 37 pucks in a heroic effort as the Blue Wave were outshot 30-5 following the first period. With the win, the Jesuits claimed their third title of the last four years and 16th in school history.
"This is the best feeling of my life," D'Amore said. "Getting that pass I just immediately knew I was going to take that shot. Ask anybody on my team and they'll tell you that all I do is take slapshots. So for that to go in, it was amazing."
Prep senior Dean Lockery scored with 6:11 left to tie it at 1-1 and break through Colon's previously impenetrable front. The goal was registered a mere seven seconds after a Kenny Kochiss score had been overturned by officials. Kochiss, another Jesuit senior, received an assist on the game-tying goal.
Darien's Robbie Juterbock had opened the game with a score on the doorstep against Prep goaltender Chris Gutierrez at the 11:55 mark of the first period. However, the Blue Wave would see only a handful of quality chances in the final 40 minutes of its disappointing finish to a historic season.
"We just didn't have our game today. There's no other excuse," said Darien coach Chris Gerwig, whose Blue Wave finish at 22-4-1. "We just didn't have it today and they did. It's tough to beat a team three times, we all know that and especially against that program. We battled, we got a little tired and looked gassed out there."
Beginning in the second period, Prep (16-4-3) blitzed Darien with a bombardment of shots released from all angles and distances. By the end of the frame, the Jesuits had outshot Darien 11-1 despite a Blue Wave power play at the 5:25 mark. In fact, the best scoring chance came off the stick of Lockery, who broke away with a shorthanded try, only to be denied by Colon's glove save.
Lockery's speed and nifty stickwork created another Prep rush as the period came to a close, a scene that grew in frequency the rest of the game.
"They definitely wore us down by the end," Colon said. "We just tried to weather the storm, and in the end, they scored. But I give credit to them. To put so many pucks on net, that's impressive."
At the end of regulation, the Jesuits had racked up 32 shots, including 12 during the third period. While Darien showed some signs of offensive life to start the extra session, they couldn't muster enough to truly threaten Gutierrez or the eventual champions again.
"This (championship) wasn't about building up from year to year, it was building up within the year," Prep coach Matt Sather said. "In order to do that, you need kids that are just so committed day in and day out because there are going to be frustrations. It would be easy to pack it in, but they didn't. And I think that speaks to our senior leadership and the culture we have at school."
Fairfield Prep 2, Darien 1 (OT)
DARIEN 1 0 0 0 --1
FAIRFIELD PREP 0 0 1 1--2
Records: Darien 22-4-1, Fairfield Prep 16-4-3. Goals: D--Robbie Juterbock; FP-- Dean Lockery, Vincent D'Amore; Assists: D--Jack Pardue; FP-- Kenny Kochiss, Ryan Deering; Goalies: D--Mike Colon (37 saves); FP--Chris Gutierrez (10) Shots: D--11; FP--39