The puck was whizzing around the net from all angles. The clock was counting down the final seconds of overtime.
At a moment like that, it's all about instinct.
On the third shot of a wild sequence, Aquila scored with 0.1 seconds remaining in an eight-minute overtime, lifting Fairfield to a dramatic 3-2 boys hockey victory over Stamford Wednesday night at Terry Conners rink.
"The second shot was wide of the net. The puck took a crazy bounce off the back boards," Aquila recounted. "The puck was there and I just got it. I knew there wasn't much time left. The only thought in my head was to get the puck on net and beat the buzzer."
Aquila's success gave Fairfield its first FCIAC win of the season (1-2) and improved its overall mark to 3-4.
"Getting our first FCIAC win is huge," Aquila said. "There isn't FCIAC Tier I and Tier II playoffs this year so only the top eight overall teams make the FCIAC postseason. That makes every league victory important ."
The contest was scoreless after one period. Daniel Silvestri's goal with 1:14 left in the second period gave Fairfield a 1-0 edge.
The fireworks started with five minutes left in regulation.
Stamford High junior Sal DiPreta tallied off a pretty give-and-go with Mike Zarrilli with 4:55 to go to forge a 1-1 deadlock.
Fairfield responded at the 3:46 mark in what could have been Stamford head coach Doug Robinson's worst nightmare.
Coach Robinson's son Kevin -- who plays for Fairfield -- knocked home a rebound at the right post to give Fairfield a 2-1 edge.
The outcomes appeared certain until Stamford senior captain Cole Savona tallied with 35.2 seconds left in regulation for forge a 2-2 tie.
The puck rang off the right post and crossbar before officials agreed that the puck got in the top corner of the net.
"The thing that's always been true about Stamford High is those kids work and work and work," said Fairfield head coach Mark Pettorini. "We got a bit complacent and conservative when we got the 2-1 lead. And Stamford cashed in the chance to tie it."
Fairfield managed one final flurry and Aquila seized the moment.
"We showed lots of character to get this win after Stamford tied it up. We weren't going to let anything stop us," Aquila said. "I scored the game-winning goal in our season-opener against Cheshire with two minutes left. But this goal was a whole new level."
Stamford (4-5, 2-1) must now regroup.
"We entered having won four in a row. But Fairfield is the best team we've faced. We found out where we stand as a team tonight," SHS coach Robinson said. "We had opportunities. We just didn't cash enough of them in. Hunter (Alderman) has been solid the last five games. This group is getting there slowly but surely. We only need four more wins to qualify for the state playoffs. That's a goal we can reach if we keep pushing forward."
FAIRFIELD 0 1 1 1 --3
STAMFORD 0 0 2 0 --2
Records: Fairfield 3-4, 1-2 FCIAC; Stamford 4-5, 2-1 FCIAC.
Goals: F -- Daniel Silvestri, Kevin Robinson, Michael Aquila. S -- Sal DiPreta, Cole Savona. Assists: F -- Kyle Scheetz, Silvestri, Mathiew LaRouche. S -- Mike Zarrilli. Goalies: F -- Connor Frawley (24 saves). S -- Hunter Alderman (28 saves).