A dream second period turned into a nightmare conclusion for the Fairfield co-op ice hockey team, and for the first time this season the Mustangs were on the wrong side of a one-goal decision.

Freshman Alec Martone scored with 1:25 remaining in overtime, lifting North Branford past Fairfield 4-3 on Monday night at the Wonderland of Ice.

Martone capitalized on a centering feed from the corner of the offensive zone and re-directed the puck past a diving Conor Frawley. The goal concluded a back-and-forth game which turned numerous times on outstanding offensive play and plenty of opportunities from both sides.

"It's very dangerous in overtime, (North Branford) threw pucks at the net and one time got a stick to it," Mustangs coach Mark Pettorini said. "We had our fair share of opportunities and we couldn't finish them."

Fairfield (3-5) had battled back from a 2-0 deficit with three straight goals to finish the second period with the lead, but let its advantage slip away in a topsy-turvy third period that saw numerous chances for both sides to add to the scoring.

"The bounces didn't go our way, but that's hockey we had a lot of opportunities that we should have capitalized on and it came back to haunt us," captain Mike Aquila said.

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The Mustangs final goal of the second came with no time remaining on the clock, after Mathiew Larouche poked home a cross-ice pass from Thomas Kryspin, who also scored. The horn sounded for the end of the period as the puck headed beyond the goal line, leaving the officials to determine whether it did so in time.

"It's the ref's call He's looking at that goal line and listening for the horn," Pettorini said. "As soon as that arm goes, there's no turning back. I thought it was the right call."

Despite the goal standing and Fairfield appearing to have all the momentum they needed, the visitors refused to pack it in and took the game to the Mustangs for the remainder of the contest.

"Fairfield is a good team, but I thought we matched up particularly well with them. We didn't play particularly well in the first or second period; in particular the penalties hurt us," North Branford coach Ralph Shaw said.

Despite being outshot 9-3 in the period, the Thunderbirds (6-3) battled through and knotted things up with 5:54 left, when Brandon Thompson fired home from close range after a scramble behind the net allowed the puck to reach his stick.

"It was important for us to play a solid third period, and I think the guys came out worked hard and made some things happen, once it went into overtime we were hungry for the win," Shaw said.

Kyle Saroka made 26 saves for the Thunderbirds, while Dylan Podbielski had a goal and two assists. Conor Scharlop added a goal and an assist for Fairfield, and Frawley made 14 saves. Fairfield failed to record a shot on net in the overtime period.

The Mustangs failed to return to the .500 mark after alternating wins and losses in their first seven games, with all three triumphs coming by a single goal, and with conference play ahead the road is only going to get tougher.

"I told them this one is done and there's nothing we can do about it. We have Wilton on Wednesday and we will go from there," Pettorini said.