To snap a four-game losing streak that was threatening to leave the Fairfield co-op boys ice hockey team out of the CIAC Division II state tournament -- without a chance to defend its 2013 state championship -- the Fairfield Warde and Ludlowe players needed to rejuvenate their offense. On Monday afternoon, with the regular season ending two days later, Fairfield found six players to step up and score in a 7-1 victory over Stamford in an FCIAC game at the Wonderland Of Ice in Bridgeport.
Senior Rett Adinolfi scored two goals and had an assist and captain Conor Scharlop scored once and added three assists to pace Fairfield's struggling offense that had produced five goals during the four straight losses. Juniors Trevor Demilt and Zach Weinstein each contributed a goal and an assist as Fairfield improved to 7-12-0 overall and finished 7-5-0 in the conference.
Stamford lost its ninth straight game. The Black Knights records fell to 3-16-0 overall and 1-11-0 in the FCIAC. The other goal scorers for Fairfield, which led by 1-0 after the first period and by 3-1 entering the third, were Austin Armas and Kevin Boldrighini. Wade Petro supplied two assists and sophomore goaltender Mike Grace made 13 saves for Fairfield.
Fairfield is seeded sixth for the eight-team FCIAC tournament that begins Friday at Terry Conners Rink in Stamford. The win left the team seeded between 14th and 16th for the state tournament, coach Mark Pettorini said, before acknowledging that a non-conference win on Wednesday against Amity most likely would lock up a berth in the state playoffs.
"All of them are pretty good," Pettorini said of the opponents in the four-game losing streak. "We were holding our own, we played decent hockey. We weren't losing to bad teams."
But the offensive resurgence was well-timed. "I've said that we're a blue collar team," Pettorini said. "We don't get many goals, and we don't get fancy goals. That's been our biggest challenge all season.
"Tonight, we had it." Especially in the four-goal third period.
But the first period indicated that the offensive struggles might continue. With a minute-and-a-half left in a scoreless first period, Scharlop -- recently moved from defense because of injuries -- scored to make it 1-0 on setups by Armas and Demilt. Fairfield was guilty of a penalty in the first half-minute of the second period before giving up a power play goal to Stamford late in the penalty kill.
The 1-1 tie did not last long, though. Thirty-one seconds later, the Black Knights were penalized and 38 seconds into the power play, Weinstein converted from Jack McCormick, and it was 2-1 Fairfield. The co-op killed off another penalty, then with 1:30 remaining in the period, Armas scored from Scharlop and Petro for a 3-1 lead heading into the third period.
Adinolfi's first goal of the game, at 3:23 of the third period, made it 4-1, then Demilt beat Stamford freshman goalie Colin Rella at 7:11 for a four-goal lead. Boldrighini's goal and Andinolfi's second came in the final 1:16 to wrap up the scoring for Fairfield.
"We're young in goal," said Stamford coach Doug Robinson. "We don't have a clear-cut starter. We're exposed there a little bit. Once we give up our first or second goal, we start to panic a bit. We don't yet have the makeup that we can battle through adversity. We broke down, and they capitalized a bit."
Fairfield 7, Stamford 1
STAMFORD 0 1 0--1
FAIRFIELD 1 2 4--7
Records: Stamford 3-16-0, 1-11-0 FCIAC; Fairfield: 7-12-0, 7-5-0 FCIAC. Goals: S--Tim Walsh; F--Rett Adinolfi 2, Conor Scharlop, Zach Weinstein, Austin Armas, Trevor Demilt, Kevin Boldrighini. Assists: S--Micahel Zarilla, Joe Esposito; F--Scharlop 3, Wade Petro 2, Jack McCormick, Armas, Demilt, Matthew Stern, Owen Emmendoerfer, Alex Powning. Goalies: S--Colin Rella (19 saves); F--Mike Grace (13). Shots: S--14; F--26.