For about 43 minutes, Stone Denbok and ND-Fairfield did just about all they could to thwart the Notre Dame-West Haven boys ice hockey team.
Yet, five minutes was all it took for the Green Knights to broke the Lancers' hearts and stole the game.
ND-West Haven scored twice in the final 2:06 of regulation, then Bill Vizzo's game-winner earned the Green Knights a dramatic 4-3 overtime win over the Lancers at Milford Ice Pavilion.
"We were dead in the water there in the third period," ND-West Haven coach Bill Gerosa said. "We just kept working hard."
Sal Sereno and Christian LaCroix each had a goal and an assist for the Lancers. ND-Fairfield fell to 9-8, dropping its third straight game.
"I'm utterly speechless," ND coach Steve Hetherman said.
The Lancers built a 3-1 third-period advantage thanks to three second-period goals. Denbok made 44 saves, 21 of which came during the first period, and it appeared as if the junior goaltender would steal a second straight game from the Green Knights. Denbok made 33 saves in the Lancers' Jan. 12 upset of ND-West Haven.
"Stone was outstanding," Hetherman said. "He was the best player on the ice for us."
"He's a terrific goaltender," Gerosa said.
But Lynch's goal -- with Green Knights goalie Paul Sliwinski pulled -- cut the Lancers' lead to 3-2 with 2:06 remaining, and just nine seconds later ND-Fairfield was charged with interference. After LaCroix's shot from center-ice at the empty net hit the post, Lancers defenseman Peter Petrino was charged with tripping with just 1:09 left, creating a 6-on-3 ND-West Haven advantage.
"Hockey is a beautiful game," Hetherman said, "and I think the players should decide the outcome."
"I think they got tired in the third period," Gerosa said.
As the game clock's seconds waned, Thibault snapped a sharp angle shot that Denbok stopped, but Lynch slid the rebound past ND's goalie, tying the score with 0.8 to play.
"We never gave up," Vizzo said. "(Lynch) is a great player, and he came up big for us tonight."
"The puck has its own personality," Gerosa said, "and today it had a Notre Dame-West Haven personality."
Vizzo's goal at 2:55, in which he flicked a backhand shot past Denbok's glove, sent the exuberant Green Knights home winners for the first time in four tries against Fairfield opposition.
"It was a beautiful skill-move by Vizzo for the win," Gerosa said.
Vizzo also assisted on Greg Zullo's first-period goal, on the Green Knights' 19th first-period shot, which sent ND-West Haven to the first intermission up 1-0.
"They took it to us in that first period," Hetherman said.
"We got stupid there for about seven or eight minutes in the second period," Gerosa said. "Give credit to Notre Dame-Fairfield; they played very well."
ND-WEST HAVEN 1 0 2 1--4
ND-FAIRFIELD 0 3 0 0--3
Records: ND-West Haven 14-3, ND-Fairfield 9-8. Goals: NDWH--Kyle Lynch 2, Bill Vizzo, Greg Zullo; NDF--Craig Hessenius, Sal Sereno, Christian LaCroix. Assists: NDWH--Kyle Thibault 2, Vizzo, Paul Sliwinski, Matt Dumas; NDF--Sereno, LaCroix, Cam Barquinero, Cooper Demchak. Goalies: NDWH--Paul Sliwinski (27 saves); NDF--Stone Denbok (44 saves). Shots: NDWH--48, NDF--30.