That Conard-South Windsor matchup sure looked like the game of the Connecticut quarterfinals, or at least the Division II quarters, didn’t it?
Major problem: Neither one got there.
Branford knocked off fourth-seeded South Windsor 3-1, while East Haven defeated fifth-seeded Conard 5-2, both on the road. The 13th and 12th seeds, respectively, Branford and East Haven will meet again Friday in the Division II quarterfinals.
Leading 3-2, East Haven got goals late in the second period from Zach Paquin and Joe Lorello to put it away. Meanwhile, Zach Withington scored twice for Branford as the Hornets built a 3-0 lead. Michael Annunziata also scored.
The higher seed won each of the other six first-round games. Top-seeded North Branford scored a goal in each period of a 3-0 win over Newington. It’ll meet eighth-seeded E.O. Smith/Tolland, which knocked off New Milford 4-1 as Jake Lefebvre broke a tie, then added another to make it 3-1. The Bucks didn’t face North Branford in the regular season.
Fairfield got a natural hat trick from Jake Fuss to start the scoring, then got two goals from Gareth Gacetta to help put away Watertown/Pomperaug 6-2. The second-seeded Mustangs will meet seventh-seeded Cheshire, which bested the Farmington Valley Generals 5-1.
Fairfield beat Cheshire 1-0 in the regular season on a late Fuss power-play goal and Mike Grace’s shutout.
The night’s first upset appeared to be brewing, coincidentally, at the rink in East Haven, where third-seeded Guilford trailed 2-0 after one period. But Guilford roared back to defeat Trumbull 7-3 for its first state tournament win in three years. Chris Cafiero scored four goals and assisted on another. Guilford meets sixth-seeded North Haven, which beat Hand 3-2. Jason St. Peter had two goals, including the winner late in the second, and an assist for North Haven.
Both regular-season meetings between Guilford and North Haven went to overtime; Guilford won one, and the other stayed tied.