MILFORD -- Life on the ice is going so well for the Notre Dame of Fairfield boys hockey team that captain Matt Heim can't even believe some of the plays occurring this month.
Heim was center stage Wednesday night when he scored what proved to be the game-winning goal late in the second period during the Lancers' 5-2 victory over West Haven at the Milford Ice Pavilion. The power-play goal was the first goal of the season for the 5-foot-9, 180-pound defenseman and helped the Lancers (7-5) run their winning streak to six games.
Heim's goal broke a 2-2 tie with one minute left to play in the period. He took a pass from Christian LaCroix and fired a low, long shot that goalie Anthony Lanziero never saw due to three players bunched up in front of the net fighting for position.
"I didn't even know it went in," Heim said. "I didn't know what to do so I just put my hands up when I figured out it went in. The coaches have been telling me to get the puck in."
After a disappointing start, the Lancers have turned their season around with a balanced attack that is getting contributions from every line and stellar net play from goalie Stone Denbok. Five different players scored for the Lancers against West Haven (5-8).
"We were really upset with how the season started," Heim said. "We've come together as a team and are working hard every day in practice. It's a good feeling. We just need to keep working."
Nobody is happier with Notre Dame's play than coach Steve Hetherman.
"They are finally understanding how to work as a team," Hetherman said. "They're understanding responsibility and playing as a unit. We showed a lot of intensity in the third period."
Greg Ferris put Notre Dame on the board first when he scored 9:10 into the opening period and it remained 1-0 until Jim Morrissey tied the game four minutes into the second off assists from Brandon Cangiano and Austin Hansen.
The Lancers then turned to their leading scorer, LaCroix, who scored on a quick shot off assists from Justin Dupuis and Sal Sereno. It was LaCroix's 12th goal of the season.
Hansen tied the game at 2-2 with 2:12 left in the second period on a play that saw him work around a sliding Ferris in front of the goal, then sneak the puck past Denbok.
Heim took the momentum right back, however, with his goal and the Lancers controlled play in the third period. Notre Dame put the game away with a goal from Cooper Demchak with 2:26 left to play and an empty-net goal from Jake Novak with one second left.
West Haven received a stellar effort from Lanziero (43 saves), but took too many penalties and was unable to keep the pressure on offense.
"We really needed this game," West Haven coach Joe Morrell said. "We can't have good players taking stupid penalties."
Notre Dame will now get a week of practice before returning to game action on Feb. 6 when it plays host to Brookfield/Bethel/Danbury.
WEST HAVEN 0 2 0 -- 2
ND-FAIRFIELD 1 2 3-- 5
Records: West Haven 5-8, ND-Fairfield 7-5. Goals: WH--Jim Morrissey, Austin Hansen; ND--Greg Ferris, Christian LaCroix, Matt Heim, Cooper Demchak, Jake Novak. Assists: WH--Brandon Cangiano, Hansen; ND--Justin Dupuis, Sal Sereno, LaCroix, Ferris, Adam Dawe 2. Goalies: WH--Anthony Lanziero (43 saves); ND--Denbok (25); Shots: WH--27; ND--48