Connecticut HS Hockey – Division 1 State Final: Fairfield Prep Blanks Top-Seed Notre Dame (WH), Wins 19th CIAC Title

Doug Bonjour
Doug Bonjour
Doug Bonjour joined Hockey Night in Boston in November 2022. He has covered high school and college sports in Connecticut for more than a decade, including stints as the UConn women’s basketball and UConn football beat reporter for Hearst Connecticut Media. During his time reporting on the 11-time national champion Huskies, he covered three NCAA Final Fours. He previously was a general assignment reporter for GameTimeCT and the Connecticut Post, and covered high school sports statewide, including boys hockey. Prior to that he was the managing/sports editor for the Westport News and Norwalk Citizen community weekly newspapers. He also has written for the Associated Press and New York Times. He graduated from Hofstra University in 2008 with a degree in print journalism.

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Fairfield Prep knocked off top-seeded Notre Dame of West Haven, 3-0, to win the CIAC Division 1 state championship Wednesday at Quinnipiac University. (Photo courtesy of Chris Eadevito/CT Hockey Report)

Following a brief hiatus, the most storied CIAC boys hockey program is back on top.

Fairfield Prep captured its record 19th state championship Wednesday night, defeating top-seeded Notre Dame-West Haven 3-0 in the Division I final at Quinnipiac University.

James Murphy scored twice for the second-seeded Jesuits, including an empty-netter with 35 seconds left, and James Heber made 42 saves for his second consecutive shutout.

James Murphy Fairfield Prep

“You come to Prep to win one of these,” senior Will Huntington said via CTInsider, “and to have it pay off is just unreal. I can’t be happier.”

Murphy struck first 3:06 in, beating Connor Crowley off his own rebound. Blake Baksay added to the lead with 2:17 remaining in the second period.

It was Prep’s 18th title at the Division I level and its first since 2019, when it topped ND-West Haven 5-2. Both the 2020 and 2021 state tournaments were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Jesuits lost in the state quarterfinals last season to New Canaan. The Jesuits are also now 6-0 all-time against the Green Knights in the finals.

Matt Sather, who coached the Jesuits to 11 state championships, five SCC Tournament championships and 13 divisional titles over 24 years, retired following last season and was replaced by alum and longtime assistant Vin O’Hara.

Under O’Hara’s watch, the Jesuits went 18-6 and added another SCC Division I title to their collection with a 4-3 shootout win over ND-West Haven. The Jesuits also split a pair of regular-season meetings with the Green Knights, losing 6-1 on Jan. 7 and winning 5-1 on Feb. 18.

“It’s a matter of good timing and a ton of talent with an amazing sports staff,” O’Hara told CTInsider. “The coaches, our training staff, the fact that I’m able to bounce ideas off of Matt Sather and Rudy Mauritz at any time is an amazing luxury.

“Honestly, as a (former) player and a coach, I feel like I’ve gained a great deal of knowledge and felt very confident coming into my first year with such a senior-heavy team and with such talented players.”

On the heels of last season’s Division I title, the Green Knights started 13-1-1 and lost to only one other in-state opponent (3-2 in overtime against Northwest Catholic on Feb. 27). ND-West Haven shut out Ridgefield 5-0 after a first-round bye and used a 5-1 victory over New Canaan to return to the state final for the third straight tournament and 19th time overall.

But ND-West Haven (18-5-1) had no answer for Heber, who also shut out Greenwich in the semifinal. He stopped all 59 shots he faced over the final two rounds, including 22 in Wednesday’s third period.

** Featured image courtesy of Chris Eadevito/CT Hockey Report

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