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Pickens' Perspective: Fairfield hockey is rolling

Published 4:07 pm, Thursday, January 24, 2013
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This season started with big expectations for the Fairfield co-op hockey team.

Through 10 games, the club hasn't disappointed.

A 6-4 record is not bad, and it appears as if Fairfield is hitting its stride when it matters most.

Fairfield's won four straight and posted a spotless week. Connor Frawley was the star thanks to two shutouts, and co-op authored back-to-back 5-0 shutouts on Monday and Friday.

You might notice Fairfield's consistent offensive attack this week, but Frawley's been pay has spearheaded this sudden run. He's been Fairfield's goaltender for so long, and he plays so much, that many would expect senior leadership like he's provided.

But you cannot overstate the lift he's given Fairfield. Frawley's consecutive scoreless streak presently is 98 minutes, 35 seconds, he's pitched three shutouts this year and has kept Fairfield in most every game.

Yet, Frawley could not do it alone. He was 20-for-20 on Monday, then followed it up with 18 saves against Wilton. Without his defenders keeping high-intensity saves to a minimum, stopping all 38 would not be possible.

And don't think what Conor Scharlop, Dan Silvestri, Timothy Grace and the rest of Fairfield's defense is doing goes unnoticed.

"If I had to say that part of the team is playing better than anybody else, I'd definitely say it's our defense and goaltending," Fairfield coach Mark Pettorini said. "They're breaking the puck out well, which takes the pressure off Frawley, and Frawley is controlling the puck ... they're playing well, and you kind of have to ride that."

But defense and solid goaltending don't mean a thing if your team can't score. Good thing Fairfield's top-line is leading the lamp-lighting charge. Charlie Meder, Matthew Larouche and Kevin Robinson combined for three goals and seven points Wednesday, after they scored three of Fairfield's five goals on Monday.

Robinson recorded three of those six goals, including his sick highlight-reel effort against the Warriors.

"It doesn't happen that often," Robinson said. "It just happened to go my way tonight."

Pettorini placed a significant emphasis on Fairfield's current six-game stretch-- which the team will play game five of on Saturday against Trumbull. The club's FCIAC schedule features Division I titans like Darien, Ridgefield and New Canaan, so when Fairfield gets the opportunity to play teams its own size, it feels it needs to take advantage.

"We looked at it like `here's a block of games we have to win,'" Pettorini said.

Fairfield needs just two wins to qualify for the Division II state tournament, a feat which should not be a problem to accomplish. Then the real fun begins.

Fairfield's not advanced past the first round since 2008, when it ran to the state final, and from my vantage point, this club could have a similar fate in its future.

"All the puzzle pieces are there," Pettorini said. "I don't ever think we play bad hockey, it's just now we're clicking."

Fairfield's got all facets working, and if it lives up to its own lofty goals, who knows what could happen?

ppickens@bcnnew.com; twitter.com/Pat_Pickens

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