Notre Dame-West Haven has been the consensus No. 1 team in Connecticut for much of the season, including in the Hockey Night in Boston rankings. Now the Green Knights are one win away from proving it in the only place where it really matters.
Sophomore James Mascari scored a pair of goals in the first period and the top-seeded Green Knights advanced to the CIAC Division 1 boys’ hockey championship game with a solid 4-1 win over #4 New Canaan in Wednesday night’s semifinals at Terry Conners Rink.
ND-West Haven was in the championship game the last time the CIAC Division 1 tournament was played in 2019, falling to Fairfield Prep. The Green Knights will be looking for their first championship since 2012 when they face Darien in Tuesday’s title game at Quinnipiac.
Mascari got the scoring started just 3:04 into the game on the power play, as he skated into the zone along the left boards and fired a shot from a tough angle that beat Rams junior goalie Beau Johnson.
Then with 2:44 left in the period, junior Ty Battipaglia got the puck out of the corner into the right circle to Mascari, who wasted no time with a quick shot that made it 2-0.
Junior Michael Troiano made it 3-0 at 5:33 of the second when he intercepted an attempted clear up the middle and fired one from just inside the blue line that got through the crowd.
Battipaglia rounded out the NDWH side of the scoring with his empty-netter with 2:35 to go,
Junior Peter Alfano (21 saves) nearly finished with a shutout for the Knights, but senior Michael Rayher and the Rams spoiled it with just 1:10 to go. A shot was blocked in the slot, but the rebound was tapped right to Rayher, who knocked home a quick shot from the edge of the left circle.
Johnson made 29 saves for New Canaan.
Darien 3, Xavier 1
The Blue Wave were the #6 seed in the bracket, but HNIB’s #2 team in the latest rankings. So whether or not this is considered an “upset,” Darien is moving on to the championship game for the first time since 2016 after beating the #2 seed Falcons at Bennett Rink in West Haven.
Senior Patrick Thurlow scored a pair of goals and senior Chris Schofield made 30 saves to lead Darien.
It started out pretty well for Xavier, which had a 31-20 advantage in shots for the game. Senior Austin Zwick’s wrist shot from the blue line was tipped in front by senior Matt Kraus and found the back of the net, giving the Falcons a 1-0 lead just 14 seconds into the game.
Xavier nearly got out of the period with the lead, but Thurlow broke free into the zone and jammed a tough shot that squirted past Xavier sophomore goalie Brett Pattison with just 49.5 seconds left in the period.
The Falcons went onto the power play early in the second looking to retake the lead, but Thurlow had other ideas. He made a steal just inside the blue line and converged on the net on a quick 2-on-1, then took matters himself with a quick shot that beat Pattison above the glove to the near top right corner at the 4:56 mark.
Junior Arthur Devillers got the final Darien goal when a tough forecheck forced a Xavier turnover. The attempted bounce pass off the right half wall instead went right to Devillers in the right circle, and he blasted it home with 10:16 to play.