No.1 Fairfield Prep strikes early on Will Huntington goals, shuts out No. 5 Greenwich

Fairfield Prep junior forward Will Huntington

Fairfield Prep junior forward Will Huntington

Michael Fornabaio / Hearst Connecticut Media

BRIDGEPORT — Weird 2020-21 meant no tryouts for Fairfield Prep hockey, calling players up from the junior varsity when they looked like they could contribute. There weren’t a lot of players coming back for this hopefully not-weird 2021-22 season.

The experience shone Tuesday night at the Wonderland of Ice in the Jesuits’ season opener, but some of the new guys did plenty as well in an 8-0 win for the top-ranked Jesuits over No. 5 Greenwich.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had a team where it’s been so new,” Fairfield Prep coach Matt Sather said. “Tonight, I think we had five guys that had played a varsity shift on the ice.

“You never know. You can see in practice there’s some ability there. The question is, in a varsity game, how are they going to react to the emotion, the physicality of it all.”

The Jesuits came out relentlessly, kept the Cardinals (1-1 after beating Hand 4-0 on Monday) pinned in their own zone for most of the first 3:55, then got two Will Huntington goals in 15 seconds to take the lead.

“It was unreal. Seeing everyone, the fans, getting to play the way we did, it was great,” Huntington said. “We’ve been thinking about this moment for a year, two years.”

Last year’s limited crowds, lack of a state tournament, quarantine on the eve of the SCC final and de facto battle for No. 1: last year was suboptimal all around.

Huntington was one of the players who stepped up to the Jesuits’ varsity.

“It was just obvious he was a step ahead,” Sather said. “He filled in on our top line a couple of times when Aksel (Sather) was hurt, and he scored. He had a knack around the net, certainly a nice, hard shot.

“The two scrimmages we had, LaSalle and Xaverian, he didn’t really have the space to get it off. I was wondering how that was going to play out today. You saw, when he backs the (defense) in, has a little space to let that shot go, it’s pretty special.”

Huntington was at the back door to bang home a rebound at 3:55. Off the draw, he scored from the right wing.

“We have a lot of speed on this team, and being able to go wide and get a shot from the top of the circle — just picking a spot,” Huntington said.

Greenwich coach Jack Duffy called time out after the second goal, and things settled down for the last 11 minutes of the first and the first 10 of the second before the Jesuits broke it open.

Nick Ambrosio made 12 saves in the shutout, only tested a couple of times.

“We just played a really good hockey team,” Duffy said. “We’re still trying to find our identity.”

Duffy wouldn’t use playing back-to-back games as an excuse, but Sather noted that the Jesuits will get a taste of it themselves on Wednesday at 4 p.m. when they visit No. 7 Ridgefield at the Winter Garden.

“These guys have a lot of energy. They were fired up to come up here,” Duffy said about his Cardinals. “I don’t think we’ve found our footing yet. It’s a good lesson. It’s definitely a barometer of what we want to shoot for.”

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Fairfield Prep sophomore forward James Murphy had five points: four assists and the final goal. Sather liked his game and that of fellow sophomore Blake Baksay, who had three assists.

“Stepping into that environment, playing with speed, Murphy double-shifting here and there to cover Aksel’s spot, it was good to see,” the coach said. “I think those two guys are going to be special.”

Aksel Sather is coming back from a collarbone injury, his uncle said; he is a week to three weeks away from playing, depending when he’s cleared for contact. He was in uniform Tuesday, though.

QUOTABLE

“Everyone’s getting better. This game especially was to see what kind of team we are, what we want to build on in practice.” —Fairfield Prep junior forward Will Huntington

mfornabaio@ctpost.com; @fornabaioctp

FAIRFIELD PREP 8, GREENWICH 0

GREENWICH0 0 0—0

FAIRFIELD PREP2 3 3—8

Records: Greenwich 1-1-0; Fairfield Prep 1-0-0. Goals: FP—Will Huntington 2, Henry Keller 2, Luke Noonan, Matt Chamberlain, Tiernan Curley, James Murphy. Assists: FP—Murphy 4, Blake Baksay 3, Jackson Hicks, Noonan, Jack Gifford, Keller, Graham Michener. Goalies: G—Cole Studwell (20 saves), Nicholas Sinisi (10); FP—Nick Ambrosio (12). Shots: G—12; FP—38.