New Canaan strikes late to beat Fairfield in double overtime
STAMFORD -- With time running out on its FCIAC title defense, the New Canaan boys hockey team desperately needed a break to climb out of a late-game, two-goal hole against an upset-minded Fairfield Co-Op.
That break came in the form of a power play chance and goal, one that would spark a furious rally to extend the Rams' season and avoid a massive upset.
Parker Lewis scored the game-winning goal 4:56 into the second overtime session, lifting No. 3 New Canaan to a come-from-behind 3-2 win over No. 6 Fairfield on Saturday at Terry Conners Rink in the quarterfinals of the FCIAC tournament. The Rams advance to the semis and will take on No. 2 seed and arch-rival Darien Wednesday.
Lewis was in the right place at the right time to smash home a rebound into an empty net after a shot from the point was tipped onto the padding of Fairfield goalie Mike Grace. The teams played a scoreless 15-minute overtime following regulation. An intermission followed before the second overtime.
"Throughout the game we had a bunch of chances, but (Grace) was playing well," Lewis said. "I finally saw that opening in the net and was able to bang it in."
With time running out New Canaan (12-6-3) struck quickly to force the extra session. The Rams earned a power play with 4:44 left in the game trailing 2-0, and Max Begoon fired a hard slap shot that took an awkward deflection to halve the deficit. With 2:41 remaining, Patrick Hompe received a pass from the corner and fired a bullet right past Grace.
Back on level terms, the Rams relied on their depth and piled on the pressure through overtime with countless chances.
"Our depth helped, when we got to eight minutes left in the third period (Fairfield) ran out of gas, especially in overtime," New Canaan coach Patrick Gore said. "We roll four lines and they rolled two-and-a-half. That caught up to them."
Fairfield opened the scoring with 4:16 left in the second period. Jake Fuss was taken down by a New Canaan defender on a clear breakaway, resulting in a penalty shot. Fuss converted the rare chance, patiently waiting before backhanding a shot over New Canaan goalie Liam Mooney.
Right off the ensuing faceoff, Fairfield gained the offensive zone and Jack McCormick got off a shot that was saved by Mooney. Owen Emmoendorfer was in front to poke home the rebound and shellshock the Rams.
"I thought the kids played phenomenal, to be up 2-0 with five minutes left in the game," Fairfield coach Tom Roche said. "I couldn't be more proud of the kids; I thought they gave it their best effort."
With something to defend in the third period, the Mustangs did just that before the Rams finally rallied.
"We were upset and angry at the same time (after falling behind)," Lewis said. "We knew we just had to focus and work harder and that's what happened. We got two lucky goals and we got our focus and intensity back."
There was one-way traffic towards Grace's goal for long portions of the game, but that didn't stop him from delivering a masterful 41-save performance.
"Both of our goaltenders are exceptional, they keep us in games all the time," said Roche, referring to Grace and senior Kyle Greenhunt. "(Grace) is very good, he's one of the top Division II goalies in the state."
The Mustangs (14-7), the lone Division II team in the six-team FCIAC tournament, fell 6-2 to the Rams Jan. 5. Grace was aided by senior defenseman Wade Petro, who helped keep the Rams under 50 shots.
With the upset avoided, the Rams can now focus on the Blue Wave. New Canaan defeated Darien for last season's FCIAC championship; Darien won both meetings between the schools this winter.
"We know they're going to come out hungry and with revenge on their mind after what happened last year," Gore said. "We're both trying to get to the same spot of an FCIAC and state championship."
New Canaan 3, Fairfield 2 (2OT)
FAIRFIELD 0 2 0 0 0--2
NEW CANAAN 0 0 2 0 1--3
Records: Fairfield co-op 14-7 7-6 FCIAC; New Canaan 12-6-3, 10-1-2.
Goals: F--Jake Fuss, Owen Emmoendorfer; NC--Maxwell Begoon, Patrick Hompe, Parker Lewis. Assists: F--Jack McCormick; NC--Tyler Hill, Begoon, Ted O'Rourke, Peter Katz. Goalies: F--Mike Grace (41 saves); NC--Liam Mooney (11 saves) Shots: F--13; NC--44.