No. 1 Fairfield Prep scores late to tie No. 2 Notre Dame-West Haven

WEST HAVEN — The chemistry of the top line for Fairfield Prep continues to shine in the biggest moments.

Trailing by a goal with 1:19 left and a faceoff in the Notre Dame-West Haven zone, Fairfield Prep took a time out.

On the ensuing faceoff, Aksel Sather won the puck back to Tiernan Curley, who slid it cross ice to Mason Whitney for a one-timer that tied the game with 1:14 left.

“That’s a play at the end of the game that we like to run,” said Whitney, Prep’s senior captain. “Simple play, good one-timer, good shot. Worked out.”

That was the final goal of the game, which ended in a 2-2 tie between No. 1 Fairfield Prep and No. 2 Notre Dame-West Haven on Wednesday evening at Bennett Rink.

It was the second matchup of the season between the two, the first time Fairfield Prep came back from a two-goal deficit to win.

“As I have been saying a million times, we need to get over that hill,” Notre Dame-West Haven coach Larry Vieira said. “Fairfield Prep is on top on that hill. As long as I am coaching at Notre Dame that is our goal, to get over that hill. A tie and a loss, is not what we are looking to do.”

Fairfield Prep came out strong in the first period, putting 21 shots on net, but only had one goal to show for it, a Whitney deflection past Notre Dame-West Haven goalie Connor Smith.

“That’s when I thought, we were going to get two or three here,” Fairfield Prep coach Matt Sather said. “The way we were moving the puck and (Smith) kept them in it.

“Then we lost our edge a little bit and let them back in it.”

The Green Knights’ John D’Errico tied the game in the first, and assisted on JM Childs’ goal to take the lead early in the second.

From there it was Smith in net keeping the Jesuits off the board until the final minutes.

“Connor Smith is the best goalie in the state,” Vieira said. “I have been saying it for three years. He is our guy.”

The Notre Dame defense also kept Prep’s shooters to the outside and didn’t all any second chances.

“I don’t think we had one rebound shot all game and there were certainly rebounds there to have,” Sather said. “He was making all the first saves and their defense did a good job keeping us on the perimeter and our forwards didn’t do a great job of getting to the net.

“That’s something we’re going to have to improve on, if we’re going to want to advance deep in this postseason.”

The SCC/SWC conference tournament begins on March 20 and while many would like to see these two teams meet for a third time this season — and a rematch of last year’s title game — Vieira said there is a lot to be done.

“I would love to see them, but we have a long way to go,” he said. “You got West Haven, you got Immaculate, you got Hamden, any SCC team can beat any SCC team on any given night. We’re not thinking about Prep at all, right now.”

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Connor Smith, Notre Dame-West Haven: The senior goalie survived the onslaught of shots from Fairfield Prep in the first period and then the rest of the way, making 49 saves in the tie.

QUOTABLE

“Catch your breath. That’s it.” — Fairfield Prep coach Matt Sather said when asked what he told his team during the timeout he called right before the Whitney tying goal.

pete.paguaga

@hearstmediact.com; @PetePaguaga

FAIRFIELD PREP 2, NOTRE DAME-WEST HAVEN 2 (OT)

FAIRFIELD PREP 1 0 1 0 — 2

NOTRE DAME 1 1 0 0 — 2

Scoring: First period: FP — Mason Whitney (Connor Mahoney and Aksel Sather); NDWH — John D’Errico (JM Childs). Second period: NDWH — Childs (D’Errico and Grant Curtis). Third period: FP — Whitney (Tiernan Curley and Sather). Shots: Fairfield Prep 51; Notre Dame-West Haven 23. Saves: FP — Tommy Martin 21; NDWH — Connor Smith 49.

Records: Fairfield Prep 8-1-1; NDWH 7-1-1.