By Eliot Schickler

eschickler@bcnnew.com

The Fairfield Warde-Fairfield Ludlowe co-op boys hockey team played the role of spoiler Thursday afternoon at its home rink, the Wonderland of Ice in Bridgeport. Fairfield wrecked the Staples-Weston-Shelton co-op team's chances of hosting an FCIAC playoff game by pulling out a 6-4 upset victory.

"It's a good win and it gives us momentum going into States," Mustangs Coach Mark Pettorini said.

Fairfield ended the regular season at 9-11 but did not make the FCIAC tournament. The Mustangs will begin play in the Division II March 7. Seedings come out March 5. Staples ended the regular season and is the fourth-seed at FCIACs. If the Wreckers won, they would have hosted Darien Saturday but instead, the two teams flip flop their potential seeds and will meet at the fourth-seeded Blue Wave at the Darien Ice Rinks Saturday at 6 p.m.

"We had a letdown," Staples Coach Ralph Unker said. "We have a way of getting up on a team and then think the game is over. It's hard to take. We have to learn how to play 45 minutes of hockey. We did it a few times. Sometimes, we're better off falling behind in the beginning."

The Wreckers took a 2-0 lead in the first period with sophomore Steve Schulman scoring from senior captains Dan Guerrera and Tali Laifer and junior captain Kyle Wehmhoff finding the net from Laifer and junior captain Aaron Liu with 8:02 remaining in the period.

The lead didn't last. Fairfield outplayed Staples the whole way as its 33-14 shots advantage reflects it. Wrecker senior captain Mark Blake-Lobb kept Staples in the game with 27 saves, some from point-blank range. Blake-Lobb allowed five goals with the sixth one being an empty-netter.

Mustang senior captain Chris Santello broke the shutout with 5:51 left and senior alternate captain Chris Stern tied it with 2:58 to go off a feed from fellow senior alternate captain Graeme Keleher.

Liu scored with 9:44 left in the second period to give Staples the lead again but 1:30 later, Fairfield sophomore Tom Kryspin tied it from Stern and sophomore Mathiu Larouche. Santello gave the Mustangs their first lead with 2:23 remaining in the middle period from Keleher and senior captain Brooks Brown and they led 4-3 after two periods.

Blake-Lobb kept it a one-goal game for the beginning of the third period with some kick saves. Following a Fairfield penalty, Wreckers sophomore Wyatt Fern tied it with a power play goal by poking home a shot past Mustangs sophomore Connor Frawley (10 saves) with 7:49 left in the game.

After allowing the equalizer, Fairfield had many chances to regain the lead. Santello, Keleher and sophomore Dan Silverstri fired blistering shots on net, only to be thwarted by Blake-Lobb. Brown, on the other hand, solved Blake-Lobb when he circled the net and flicked it home with 43 seconds to go in giving the Mustangs a 5-4 lead.

"I just came out of the corner, no one came at the net and I lit it up," Brown said. "The clock is definitely on your mind because you know if you don't score, it goes into overtime, so you have to try to make something happen."

Pettorini said, "We've been struggling putting the puck in the net and it was a good win. Brooks is our senior captain and he does a great job of faking out the goalie."

Staples then pulled Blake-Lobb for the extra skater. This gave Santello an opportunity and he completed his hat trick when he went down the right wing and flicked it home with 10.3 seconds left.

"It helps our confidence and gives us a nice boost going into the playoffs as we try to win some games on the road," Brown said.

The Wreckers hope to experience redemption against Darien, a team they lost 7-3 to on Jan. 19 at The Rinks at Shelton. If Staples wins, it plays in the FCIAC semifinals. No matter what, the Wreckers have a solid chance of winning the Division III tournament.

"If we show up, we match up well with them," Unker said. "If we show up, it will be a good game."