Fairfield co-op hockey to vie for claim Division II hockey title
In December, the Fairfield co-op hockey team set a Division II state-tournament run and trip to Yale as its primary objective.
Tonight, Fairfield has the chance to exceed that goal and take home the ultimate prize.
The 13th-seeded co-op team has won its last three state-tournament games, reaching tonight's Division II state final. Fairfield will meet No. 2 East Catholic at 7 p.m. at Ingalls Rink in New Haven.
"We worked really hard to get here," Fairfield coach Mark Pettorini said. "The guys are all amped up."
Fairfield will vie for its first state championship in ice hockey-- the co-op team lost to Amity 5-1 in 2008, its only other title-game appearance. East Catholic will attempt to claim its second state championship ever. The Eagles' only other hockey crown came in 1984.
Fairfield's roster sports 11 seniors, yet it has been led by a sophomore in cage. Kyle Greenhunt, starting in place of Fairfield's senior netminder Connor Frawley whose high-school career was cut short by a concussion, played in just one regular-season game but has won all three state tourney games, posting a .938 save percentage in Fairfield's last two wins.
"He's been phenomenal," Pettorini said. "He's matured a lot in the past three weeks, and he's been playing really well."
Co-op's top-line center, senior Tom Kryspin, has found his scoring touch. Playing on Fairfield's top line in Matt Larouche's absence, Kryspin's scored three goals in the team's last two state tournament games.
"I told the guys in practice, `throw pucks toward Kryspin, because everything he touches seems to be going in the net,'" Pettorini said.
To slow the talented Eagles, Pettorini believes his club must contain East Catholic's potent offense-- a unit that uses stretch passes to move the puck quickly.
The Eagles have scored 14 goals in three state tournament games, an average of almost five per game, and they could be even more dangerous on Ingalls' larger ice surface.
"We have to take away the middle of the ice," Pettorini said. "This game will be won or lost in the neutral zone."
Neither side has played in nine days-- both teams claimed their state semifinal wins on March 11-- which could lead to rust.
"The first period is going to be a little ugly," Pettorini said. "Whoever can come out of that funk first will have the edge."