BRIDGEPORT -- Notre Dame of Fairfield boys' hockey coach Steve Hetherman suggested that his team got psyched out playing in a 9,000-seat arena.
Whether that is true or not, the Lancers turned in a disappointing effort Monday and suffered a 6-2 loss to St. Joseph in the second annual New Year's Eve High School Hockey Faceoff at Webster Bank Arena.
Senior captain Christian Keator recorded his second consecutive hat trick for the Cadets, who improved to 3-2. Notre Dame suffered its third straight loss and dropped to 1-3.
The Lancers had major problems with their special teams. They allowed two power-play goals, one shorthanded, and went 0-for-4 with the man advantage.
"No effort," Hetherman repeated three times. "You're not going to win a game against St. Joseph without effort, and it showed. You can't teach effort."
Scoring three goals at the home rink of the American Hockey League's Bridgeport Sound Tigers certainly created a memory for Keator, a Milford native who was playing at Webster Bank Arena for the first time in his life.
"It's an amazing arena," Keator said. "I love playing here ... a hat trick in a beautiful arena, it's great. I can't wait to come back and hopefully play here another time."
Keator actually had two chances for a fourth goal in the final minute. The first time he was stopped by Notre Dame goalkeeper Scott Kline and the second time he passed to Colin Powell, who scored his first varsity goal in the second period.
"I was trying to share the weath," Keator added.
The Cadets received production throughout the lineup as 10 different players had either a goal or an assist, including sophomore Chris Kirven, who also registered his initial varsity goal.
"We've had our ups and downs already, as early as it is," St. Joseph coach Marty Crouse said. "We're 3-2, over .500 now, and hopefully this is our turning point where we start playing better. We've had only one other game where we scored five goals. We knew we need to put the puck in the net more and tonight we did."
The Lancers were hurt by another slow start. In their previous game, they rallied from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits before falling to Darien 5-4 in overtime. Against St. Joseph, however, they trailed 4-0 after two periods, and that was too much to overcome.
"You expend so much energy trying to get back into a competitive game," Hetherman said. "On our power play, what was most surprising is that whatever we taught them, they discarded."
Kirven and Brian Canfarotta scored 43 seconds apart in the first period before Powell and Keator added goals in the second to give the Cadets their 4-0 lead.
The Lancers did make it interesting in the third period, scoring twice in a 27-second span in the first two minutes of the third period.
St. Joseph was reeling a bit and the Lancers had a chance to pull within one after Andrew Gore went off for holding, but Keator delivered the back-breaker for Notre Dame as he scored an unassisted shorthanded goal at 5:11. He broke in alone and beat Kline through the five-hole.
"When they scored two goals quick, I knew we had to put one back in there to get our team going again," said Keator, who completed his hat trick with 3:53 remaining. "I was glad I could do it for my team. That's my job as a captain.
Each goalie finished with 23 saves as the Cadets outshot the Lancers by a 29-25 margin.
At Webster Bank Arena
St. Joseph 2 2 2--6
Notre Dame 0 0 2--2
Records: St. Joseph 3-2; ND-Fairfield 1-3; Goals: SJ--Chris Kirven, Bryan Canforatta, Colin Powell, Christian Keator, Christian Keator 2; ND-- Craig Hessenius, Jake Novak; Assists: SJ-- Filippo Petrini, Sean Smith, Zach Usinger, Matt Greenhut, Troy Deering, Ryan Corcoran; ND-- Erik Laaksonen, Matt Heim; Goalies: SJ--Marc Van Etten (34 saves); ND--Scott Kline (28).