Connecticut D2 Semifinals: Fairfield, North Branford post big wins

Michael Fornabaio
Michael Fornabaio
Michael writes for Hockey Night in Boston, covers the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for the Connecticut Post, and once covered the Beast of New Haven. He grew up at the New Haven Coliseum. Story, blog links @BSTSoundinOff blog.ctnews.com/fornabaio.

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It’ll be North Branford and Fairfield for the Connecticut Division II championship. Second-seeded Fairfield defeated Guilford 5-1 to reach the final for the first time since winning in 2013, and top-seeded North Branford beat East Haven 7-1 to get to the final for the second year in a row.

The teams meet Friday night at 7:30 at Ingalls Rink. Fairfield and North Branford played a 4-4 tie back on Dec. 30, and it’s a game that made an impression on the Mustangs’ Jake Fuss, who talked after two games this postseason about what a battle it was.

Fuss scored four goals for Fairfield in the semifinal win over Guilford. Guilford scored first, Chris Cafiero finishing off a three-on-one, but Fuss scored on a breakaway a couple of shifts later. Owen Emmendorfer’s power-play goal made it 2-1 after one.

Fuss added another breakaway goal soon after Fairfield’s Mike Grace stoned Ricky Sandella’s backhander in front. Fuss tipped in two point shots to cap the scoring.

Mid-Atlantic-Festival-Ad-300x250Jack McCormick had four assists for the Mustangs, and Grace finished with 26 saves.

North Branford rolled past the Cinderella 12th-seeded Yellowjackets, scoring four goals in the last eight minutes of the first period to take control.

Dom Raccio opened the scoring at 7:07. Adam Burkle made it 2-0 at 11:03, after the Thunderbirds killed a penalty, and Nico Giatrelis scored off a failed clear 21 seconds later.

North Branford went on the power play 14 seconds after that goal but didn’t score. It did score 10 seconds after the penalty expired: Matt Chamberlain tipped in Tanner Opie’s shot to make it 4-0.

Raccio and Brian McKee scored in the second around a John Monaco goal for East Haven. Pantera tapped in a rebound in the third to finish off a return to the final for the Thunderbirds, who reached their first title game last year, falling to Suffield/Granby/Windsor Locks.

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