Darien falls to Fairfield Prep in Overtime
BRIDGEPORT - For two-plus periods Fairfield Prep did everything it could to put the puck past Darien goalie Max Rothston.
The Jesuits missed high, low, left and right and couldn't seem to be able to come up with an answer until they went back to the most basic of plays, shoot the puck and crash the net.
Trailing 1-0, Evan Antisdale rammed home a loose puck with 5:20 left in the third period to even the score and Bryan Puffer knocked in a rebound with 5:49 remaining in overtime to lead second-seeded Fairfield Prep to a 2-1 victory over No. 15 Darien in a CIAC Division I first-round game Wednesday night at the Wonderland of Ice.
"Simple hockey," Prep coach Matt Sather said. "When you're playing against a goaltender that seems to have your number, it's the only solution."
Darien took the lead just 2:40 into the game when Nick Bruno tapped a loose puck across the goal line for a power-play goal. Richard Gregory set up the score with a pass from behind the net that hit Prep goaltender John Galiani's pad and settled inches from the goal line. Bruno won the race for the puck, giving the Blue Wave a 1-0 lead.
The Jesuits started to turn the tide in the second period, outshooting Darien 12-3 in the process. A.J. Unker made the game his own personal shooting gallery, firing numerous shots at and over Rothston, including a potential game-tying shot that clanged off the crossbar.
"We looked nervous in the first period, maybe we had the state tournament jitters," Sather said. "Once we shook them off, it was like OK, can we actually get one past this kid."
The third period was more of the same with David White missing on a pair of golden opportunities to score in a period that saw the Jesuits hold a 12-5 shot advantage.
After Prep forced a faceoff in the Darien zone with 5:26 left, Blue Wave coach Larry Vieira called timeout in order to get his best players on the ice.
"Darien called timeout so we were able to draw up a play," Sather said. "It didn't work exactly like we drew it up, but it was close."
Inserted into the lineup because Sather wanted a left-handed player to come out from behind the net, Antisdale made his backdoor move and was able to slam in a pass that Unker had sent in his direction.
In the overtime, it was Puffer's turn to step up as he atoned for two near-misses in the extra session by burying the rebound of a Ray Boudiette shot from the point, ending the tense contest.
"Once you miss one, you go back to the bench and try not to feel sorry for yourself. You have to get right back at it and try to bury the next one," Puffer said. "Luckily, we all kept playing hard and I kept going and was able to get one."
Despite not being given much of a chance to win, the Blue Wave walked out of the rink knowing they had thrown a major scare into the Jesuits.
"When they scored that goal in the third period, I felt the tsunami coming and there was nothing we could do to turn it off," Vieira said. "There's a reason why they are 18-3 and have won 13 state championships. The better team won tonight, but my guys left it all on the ice and we have no regrets."