New Canaan edged by Notre Dame-West Haven in state quarterfinals
BRIDGEPORT -- New Canaan's boys hockey players had to love their scoring chances Saturday. Their only problem was Wade Conlan found a way to stop every one of them, even when he needed to go to a second option.
Conlan made 27 saves, stopped a couple of breakaways and a huge point-blank chance in the final minutes, leading Notre Dame-West Haven to a 2-0 win in the CIAC Division I quarterfinals at Webster Bank Arena.
"We played to our full capabilities. We had a lot of heart today," said Conlan, a junior. "We just figured, play our game and we'll come out of here with a win."
"We couldn't get it in," said New Canaan coach Bo Hickey, whose team finished 19-5-1.
"They were the better team tonight, I guess. We needed one bounce, one shot, and the kid made a couple of nice saves. There's nothing you could do. That's playoff hockey. That's what it's about."
It was a really good, hard-hitting playoff hockey game between two of the top seven seeds, which looked like it'd come down to one goal.
The second-seeded Green Knights (15-6-1) scored it and will face their archrival, No. 3 Fairfield Prep (14-4-3), in Wednesday's semifinals at Ingalls Rink in New Haven. The time will be announced.
Notre Dame won one game against the defending-champion Jesuits in the regular season and tied the other.
"(They were) two very close games," Notre Dame coach Tim Belcher said. "It's a rivalry, and a bitter one at that."
The Green Knights go into that game off back-to-back shutouts, beating Simsbury 3-0 in the first round to set up a third game of the year against New Canaan.
The Rams had won the first two, one-goal games both times. Belcher said they were more aware this time of Harry Stanton, who he said single-handedly beat them opening night.
They still let Stanton take a turnover in all alone on Conlan late in the second period. Stanton deked around Conlan's left pad, or so he thought; Conlan stuck his left toe out to make the save.
He stopped Parker Lewis on another breakaway soon after.
"Wade's the type of goalie, I don't really talk to him much. He knows what he's doing out there. He's an athlete," Belcher said. "His angles were tremendous."
In the third, after Lynch's goal, Davis Bruch took a pass to Conlan's right, all alone. He turned toward the net, deking around Conlan's goal stick.
"I went for the pokecheck and realized I'd missed it," Conlan said. "I tried to (take up) as much room as I could in net. I put my pad out as far as I could get it out."
Keeping the left pad down, he kept Bruch from tying the game.
Lynch's goal had come 47 seconds into Notre Dame's fifth and final power play. He took a pass from Colin O'Connor at the top of the left circle, took a step up and fired a wrist shot over Mac Wright's glove.
"Ryan, was it a great angle? Absolutely not," Belcher said. "He saw an opening and put it over (Wright's) shoulder."
Wright matched Conlan's 27 saves, making a few tough ones himself. Dumas had two breakaways, and Wright forced him to shoot wide both times.
Dumas' third breakaway, though, came in the closing seconds with Wright on the bench for an extra attacker. He didn't miss, ending the Rams' season.
"I couldn't ask for more out of our kids," Hickey said. "If it didn't happen, it didn't happen. There's no sin in that. I thought it was one of the more enjoyable teams I've coached at New Canaan."
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Notre Dame-West Haven 2, New Canaan 0
NEW CANAAN 0 0 0--0
NOTRE DAME-WEST HAVEN 0 0 2--2
Records: New Canaan 19-5-1; Notre Dame-West Haven 15-6-1
Goals: NDWH--Ryan Lynch, Matt Dumas; Assists: NDWH--Colin O'Connor, Kyle Lynch, Eric Austin; Goalies: NC--Mac Wright (27 saves); NDWH--Wade Conlan (27); Shots: NC--27; NDWH--29