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Fairfield Prep wins in OT, to face Darien in hockey final

NEW HAVEN -- A sniper's special goal by Matt Wikman at 5:45 of overtime Wednesday night propelled Fairfield Prep to the CIAC Division I boys ice hockey final as the Jesuits defeated Notre Dame-West Haven 4-3 at Ingalls Rink.

Fourth-seeded Darien beat Notre Dame-Fairfield in the other semifinal hours earlier at Yale's rink to reach the championship game for the fourth time in five years.

The Jesuits will be seeking their 16th state title at Ingalls Rink on Saturday at 2 p.m. against a Blue Wave team that beat them twice in the regular season, each time by one goal.

Wikman scored to set up the third Prep-Darien game of the winter on a backhander just inside the goalpost-crossbar joint for third-seeded Prep (15-4-3), which had tied Notre Dame-West Haven 4-4 on Jan. 4, then lost to the Green Knights 3-0 on Feb. 22. Notre Dame-West Haven, seeded No. 2, finished 15-7-1 this season, two years after winning the 2012 state championship.

"He certainly hit his spot," Notre Dame coach Tim Belcher said of Wikman's game-winning goal. "Basically, he had a little bit of a window to shoot at. He buried it. It was a good play. That's what good players do."

Fairfield Prep began the third period with a 2-0 lead but gave up a power play goal to the Green Knights 64 seconds in. The Jesuits restored their two-goal lead 2 minutes and 37 seconds later when William Schlichtig deftly and barely tucked the puck one-handed inside the post past Notre Dame goalie Wade Conlan.

But the Green Knights did not fade, forcing overtime on a pair of goals by Ryan Lynch. He scored a power play goal midway through the period -- Notre Dame went 2-for-3 on the power play -- then made it 3-3 on a blast past Jesuits' goalie Matt Beck with 76 seconds remaining.

"We sort of blew it there," Prep coach Matt Sather said in reaction to Notre Dame's two-goal rally in the third period. "That kid (Ryan Lynch) is just good. It was a tough play. On the last one, I think Matty (Beck) was screened there.

"Sometimes you give up a two-goal lead and the players get down. They were quiet, but they were ready," Sather said. "I never thought we relinquished control of the game. I never felt we were chasing, and they probably felt the same way."

Prep earned a 2-0 lead after two periods on goals from Dean Lockery in the seventh minute of the first period, set up by Wikman, and Ryan Deering midway through the second period. Deering returned from injury after missing a month of action. That strengthened Sather's line combinations and, he said, gave Prep the depth it needed against Notre Dame.

Prep called timeout 27 seconds into overtime, to discuss strategy, after being awarded its second power play of the game. "We had some good chances there," Sather said. "But their goaltender played great all night."

The Jesuits carried play for most of the overtime, with Wikman's shot cutting in from the left side 3:18 after the Prep power play expired.

rwalmark@bcnnew.com; 203-255-4561 ext. 113; twitter.com/ReidWalmark

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Division I semifinals

FAIRFIELD PREP 1 1 1 1--4

NOTRE DAME-WEST HAVEN 0 0 3 0--3

Records: Fairfield Prep 15-4-3; Notre Dame-West Haven 15-7-1. Goals: FP--Dean Lockery, Ryan Deering, William Schlichtig, Matt Wikman; NDWH--Ryan Lynch 2, Kyle Lynch. Assists: FP--Wikman, Bryan Connell, Deering; NDWH--Colin O'Connor, K. Lynch, Matthew Dumas. Goalies: FP--Matt Beck (26 saves); NDWH--Wade Conlan (37). Shots: FP--41; NDWH--29.

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