Fairfield Co-op gains Division II semifinals
Published 11:58 pm, Saturday, March 9, 2013
WEST HAVEN -- Thomas Kryspin scored with 10:23 left in the second overtime, lifting the Fairfield boys ice hockey team to a 4-3 double-overtime victory over Branford on Saturday night at Bennett Rink in the Division II quarterfinals.
With the win, the 13th-seeded Mustangs will meet No. 9 North Branford at Yale's Ingalls Rink Monday for a spot in the final.
Like so many goals in playoff hockey, the puck took a fortunate bounce to find its way in the back of the net for the deciding goal. Defenseman Zach Weinstein took a shot from the point that was redirected home by the body of Kryspin.
"(Weinstein) took a shot, I was just trying to get the screen, it just went off my leg or something, and it went somewhere," said Kryspin, who scored twice. "I was just glad it went in after all this time."
The second overtime period was played with four skaters on each side, as both goalies kept their teams in the game with dazzling saves. Fairfield's Kyle Greenhunt (41 saves) and Branford's A.J. Brink (35) displayed poise far beyond their sophomore years.
"(Greenhunt) played great," Fairfield coach Mark Pettorini said. "I think the first period we didn't play well as a whole. He is young; he hasn't seen anything like this before. He got used to it, adjusted to it and had a good second period and an even better third period."
Fairfield fell behind early, 2:49 into the game to be exact, off a goal from Hornets forward Cooper Bunton. Although Kevin Robinson quickly responded for the Mustangs, Fairfield found itself two goals down midway through the second period, courtesy of some outstanding play from Branford's Tyler Criscuolo. The sophomore gave his side a 3-1 lead with 13:48 left in the second period, expertly flipping a shot up high on Greenhunt.
"We have a very deep team; we have three lines we can run," Pettorini said. "We kept chipping and (Branford) got more and more tired. We just kept getting the puck at the net. We didn't have the greatest first period but we kept building off what we were doing."
The Mustangs' depth eventually paid off, with Kryspin scoring on the power play midway through the second period to halve the deficit, and Kyle Scheetz grabbing the crucial equalizer with 6:48 left in regulation. Fairfield was 1 of 6 on the power play while the Hornets went 0 of 4.
The win sends Fairfield to Ingalls rink for the first time for this group of seniors. The Mustangs last reached Yale in 2008, the lone time the school has reached a state final. North Branford defeated Newtown Saturday and is in the semifinals for the second straight season.
"We saw (North Branford) at the beginning of the season up at their rink (a 5-2 Fairfield loss)," Pettorini said. "We didn't play so great; we had poodles of shots on them. It's going to be another game like this, they always are."
Division II quarterfinals
FAIRFIELD 1 1 1 0 1--4
BRANFORD 2 1 0 0 0--3
Records: Fairfield 12-11, Branford 13-8-2. Goals: F--Thomas Kryspin 2, Kyle Scheetz, Kevin Robinson; B--Tyler Criscuolo, Cooper Bunton, Tony Pascale; Assists: F--Jack O'Rourke 2, Mike Aquilla, Dan Silvestri; B--Criscuolo; Goalies: F--Kyle Greenhunt (41 saves); B--A.J. Brink (35); Shots: F--39, B--44.