Fairfield boys ice hockey dominated by Ridgefield

The Fairfield co-op boys ice hockey team entered its game Saturday against Ridgefield on a bit of an emotional high, having handed FCIAC West Division rival Westhill a loss in its first league game of the season just three days earlier.

But that high turned into a major low during its 9-1 loss to Ridgefield at Wonderland of Ice on Saturday.

Fairfield held a 1-0 lead 10 minutes into the first period on an unassisted goal by junior forward Chris Santello.

Matt Flanagan scored with 11 seconds left in the period to take the wind out of Fairfield's sails. In between the first and second periods, Fairfield head coach Mark Pettorini said his team didn't show much emotion in the locker room.

"There wasn't a lot of anything, and I think that was the problem," Pettorini said. "There should have been something."

Up until that point in the game, Fairfield was playing a physical game and out-muscling the Tigers, a Division I team.

After Flanagan's goal, Fairfield and Ridgefield seemed to change roles.

"Once we started taking the body, the game turned around a bit," Ridgefield head coach Shaun Gallagher said. "They got one quick and they were skating around confident and hitting us. Once we started hitting back was when we settled down and put some shots on the net."

Flanagan had two goals for Ridgefield, as did Sean Kelly, Matt Hrvatin and Danny McMullen. Shane Lovallo also tallied for the Tigers.

Fairfield was not only out-scored and out-hustled by Ridgefield, but the Tigers played a more disciplined game.

Fairfield committed 14 penalties, and gave up four power play goals.

"You're not going to win a lot of hockey games with 14 penalties," Pettorini said. "There was a lot of frustration, and these guys showed it on the ice. These guys are a lot more disciplined than that, so I'm disappointed."

Ridgefield also scored once on a short-handed goal.

"We came out and played good for the first 11 minutes, but you can't win playing well for 11 minutes out of 45," Pettorini said. "We looked good, we're up 1-0, and then when they scored at the end of the period, we started getting into our discipline problems."

That lack of discipline included a scuffle late in the second period that saw two Fairfield skaters and three Ridgefield players get sent to the penalty box for roughing.

Fortunately, both teams came out in the third period without the flared tempers.

"Hockey is a game that gets chippy at times," Gallagher said. "This one may have got a little out of line but I don't think it

was anything out of control."

While Fairfield came into the game on a high note, Ridgefield had a chip on its shoulder after losing 6-0 to Greenwich in its FCIAC opener.

"I told these guys in the locker room that the best thing about this game is that it's over," Pettorini said. "We can concentrate on our next game."

That game comes tonight at Wonderland against New Canaan. The Rams will come in with something to prove, as they fell to 6-3 overall Saturday with a loss to Greenwich.

Fairfield fell to 3-4 with the loss, and is 1-1 in the FCIAC.