Fairfield Prep put the finishing touches on a great 2017-18 season, scoring three goals in the third period en route to a 4-2 win over second-seeded Greenwich to win the Connecticut Division 1 state title, the Jesuits first title since 2014.
The Jesuits finished at 21-2-1 overall and were perfect in-state. The two losses came to Malden Catholic (MA) and Delbarton (NJ), and the tie was with Rhode Island’s Bishop Hendricken.
It was a tough ending for the Cardinals, who had an impressive 18-2 regular season and ended 21-3-0 overall. They held a 2-1 lead after two periods and outshot Fairfield Prep for the game by a 26-19 margin.
“I just told them to relax, have fun and play to their abilities,” said Fairfield Prep coach Matt Sather about what he told his troops between the second and third period. Greenwich played great in the first two periods, but we were finally able to relax and attack in the third.”
The Cardinals came out fast and took a 1-0 lead just 1:57 into the game when senior Matt Baugher, perfectly stationed in front, buried a rebound past Prep goalie Jack McGee.
Midway through the first period, Prep senior Kevin Oricoli tied up the game when he moved off the right wing boards and buried a wrist shot.
Baugher’s second goal of the game, at 7:03 of the second period, put the Cardinals back in front 2-1 when his shot from a bad angle somehow snuck past McGee. Freshman Thatcher Danielson had an assist on the goal.
At 2:31 of the third period, Fairfield Prep drew even again on Oricoli’s second goal, snapping home a wrist shot after a drop pass from Carter Kral. And a little over a minute later, the Jesuits took their first lead when defenseman Evan Uva’s shot from the blue line got past Greenwich goalie Ben Nash.
The Cardinals had 20 shots on goal through two periods, but could only muster six in the third period, and they were unable to get the equalizer.
Kral put the finishing touches on Fairfield Prep’s championship season by draining an empty-net goal from just inside the red line with just 58 seconds left in regulation.
“The bench was elated,” said Sather. “There was an instant and real appreciation for the senior class and all of their contributions to Fairfield Prep and Fairfield Prep hockey.”