Fairfield Prep hockey falls to Hamden in Division I championship game
For the Fairfield Prep hockey team, Saturday's state championship game with Hamden was a case of too little too late.
The second-seeded Jesuits fought off five different Hamden leads, but did not have an answer for the sixth as the fourth-seeded Green Dragons beat the first time in three meetings as Hamden won the Division I state championship, 6-5 on Saturday in front of a raucous crowd of 3,500 at Ingalls Rink in New Haven.
"They have a great program over there," Prep Head Coach Matt Sather said of Hamden. "We're disappointed, but proud of our season."
Darric White led Prep with a pair of goals and fellow senior captain Jackson Bargiello recorded three assists in the championship game. Senior goalie Spencer Sodokoff stopped 25 shots in his final game as a Jesuit.
"Captains have been sensational," Sather said. "They were three of the best players I've ever coached."
Fellow senior Lucas Dennison recorded an assist, but took four penalties in the game.
The Jesuits never led in the game, but fought back every time Hamden went ahead. AJ Unker scored the first Prep goal, five minutes after Hamden took the lead and White's first goal came with just 1.2 seconds of the first period on a set play off a faceoff with the Prep net empty. Unker won the draw to Bargiello, who centered to White at the top of the slot, who tied the game at 2.
"We practice that play every day," White said. "We are pretty confident in that play."
After Hamden took the lead, the teams exchanged power play goals in the second and into the third, including a goal by CJ Carignan that came on a Hamden 5-on-3. Tom Worsfold tallied for Prep on the power play 3:41 into the third that tied the game at 4 that was aided by a screen by White.
"We worked hard," Sather said. "I'm proud of their effort. They were a great crew."
Carignan broke a 4-4 tie when he tallied a power play goal with just 4:12 left in regulation after Hamden received a questionable power play.
But Prep answered again when David Griffin ripped a shot passed Hamden goalie Ryan Amarone with just 3:39 remaining in regulation. Griffin's goal came just 39 seconds after Carignan put the Green Dragons ahead and gave the Jesuits life.
Four power play goals were scored in the game, two for each side. Prep had six man advantages and the Green Dragons had four. Prep had an opportunity when Hamden's Adam Devine was shipped off for a double-minor for charging at the end of the second and into the third, but could not capitalize.
But Hamden had one more answer to the Jesuits response. The Green Dragons scored a hard work goal by Nick Amarone when his backhand shot from the top of the slot beat Sodokoff to put the Green Dragons up for good, with just 2:04 left.
"I didn't expect them to score a sixth goal," White said. "I didn't expect them to score five, but they took it to us and beat us."
The Jesuits had an opportunity with the net-empty to tie the game but Amarone came up big for Hamden. Prep also had one final chance when Devine was penalized with three seconds left in the game, after Hamden had thought the clock had expired. The Green Dragons won the faceoff and the celebration was on.
"I thought we could have gotten another shot," White said. "I wasn't really happy with the last three seconds ... but Hamden won."
For Sather, the result was disappointing, especially since his seven seniors and three captains will depart Prep as second place finishers.
"It hurts," Sather said. "You watch these guys grow and develop and you get to know them and you want them to see their dreams come true, and when it doesn't happen it hurts."