Connecticut D2 Semifinals: No. Branford advances in 2 OT

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

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Brian McKee‘s second goal lifted North Branford to a 4-3 double-overtime win over top-seeded Conard in the Division II semifinals and the fourth-seeded Thunderbirds’ first berth in a CIAC final.   They’ll meet second-seeded Suffield/Granby/Windsor Locks, which jumped on third-seeded Branford early and held on for a 5-3 win in the other semifinal. The final is Friday night at 7:30 at Ingalls Rink.

Zach Polo Conard
Zach Polo
Jake King Suffield/Granby
Jake King

North Branford scored early after Mike Pantera intercepted a pass and scored on a breakaway to start the back-and-forth scoring. Conard took a 2-1 lead early in the second; Jordon Fongemie scored the first Chieftains goal and set up Zach Polo on the second.   North Branford came back and took a lead on McKee’s first goal, but Conard tied it late in the second.   In overtime, Adam Burkle beat a man to set up a two-on-one. He passed left to right to McKee for the game-winner.

In the second game, the Wildcats raced to a 4-0 lead by the 3:46 mark of the first period; Jake Bourdeau scored two of them, and Jake King and Jake Paliotti also scored.   Branford got one goal back before intermission, Cooper Bunton‘s first of two. Scott Klouda and Bunton scored in the second, but Shane Kertanis made big saves down the stretch to preserve the lead.   Craig Montemerlo‘s empty-netter secured the Wildcats’ first trip to a final since they won the Division II title in 2000. Suffield also won Division II in 1979.

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