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Offense sputters in Fairfield co-op boys ice hockey loss at East Haven

Despite what the scoreboard might have suggested by game's end, the Fairfield co-op boys ice hockey team generated an attack Saturday afternoon at East Haven. Several of its shots just off the stick appeared to have a great chance to go in. Still, Fairfield could not break through for a goal in losing its second straight game at the start of the season.

The host Yellowjackets, behind the exceptional goaltending of Tom DeLucia, shut out the co-op of Fairfield Warde and Fairfield Ludlowe skaters for a 2-0 non-conference victory at DiLugo rink. Fairfield junior goalie Kyle Greenhut stopped 34 shots and was equally as impressive as DeLucia in a classic goaltenders' duel.

East Haven, of the Southern Connecticut Conference, got a first-period goal from Tristan Goodwin on the power play and an empty-netter in the final 40 seconds by Matthew Longobardi to improve to 2-0-0. Fairfield, of the FCIAC, the 2013 CIAC Division II state champions, dropped to 0-2-0.

Fairfield coach Mark Pettorini, without spending hours reviewing videotape of the opening two games, knows foremost what his team needs to improve vastly to mount a serious title defense ¦ or just to qualify for the state tournament again. Goals. Fairfield has scored two goals in 90 minutes of action thus far in 2013-14. "That's not going to cut it at all," Pettorini said.

"They'd dominate for five or six minutes, then it would be our turn," Pettorini said. "We came out flat. This is a tough rink to play in with the atmosphere here and their (game-) opening (player introduction) ceremony. I think our younger players were a little overwhelmed by that. It took us about eight minutes to get adjusted."

Overall, Pettorini said he was pleased with how his younger players were integrating into new roles for this season, but he was not so happy with the performance of his veterans.

Fairfield slept at the game's start, then skated on even terms for the remainder of the first period. The second period was a textbook example of clinging during a nearly non-stop onslaught as East Haven dominated and Fairfield chased and survived. The third period was close to even, but Fairfield put more pressure on the Yellowjackets than they did on the Fairfield goal.

An East Haven penalty with 5 minutes and 2 seconds remaining gave Fairfield an opportunity to draw even with its second power play of the game, but the Yellowjackets' penalty killers were able to set up a forecheck and got two shots on Greenhut.

"Fairfield showed a lot of character," East Haven coach Lou Pane said. "I was worried after that second period. We should've had three or four goals (in that period). We had an open net twice and we hit the post. We hung on for dear life in the third period.

"Tom DeLucia gets big kudos. He had a great game. Their guy (Greenhut) did an outstanding job in net. We limited their shots (on goal), but many of them were high-quality shots," Pane said.

East Haven outshot Fairfield by 36-17 for the game. DeLucia made six of his 17 saves in the third period. Two of his four remarkable saves came in that period. And Fairfield's most egregious misplaced shot -- that didn't even end up on goal with DeLucia still not in position following a point-blank save -- came in those 15 minutes as well.

"In the second period, their first line, with (junior forward Michael Falangala), can really dominate play. They had us turned around and scrambling," Pettorini said. "With (Falangala), they can control the game, and they did. I told them (Fairfield players) after the second period, we have to win the little battles and work hard."

That pep talk seemed to work, but it did not translate into a result on the scoreboard. "They took a good hunk out of our (last) power play," Pettorini said. "They have nine seniors. They generated a lot of pressure."

The Fairfield co-op next plays after a week's break on Dec. 28 against North Haven at 8:30 p.m. at the Northford Ice Pavilion in North Branford. Read Full Article 

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

East Haven 2, Fairfield 0

FAIRFIELD 0 0 0--0

EAST HAVEN 1 0 1--2

Goals: EH--Tristan Goodwin, Matthew Longobardi. Assists: EH--Jake Delguidice. Shots: F--17, EH--36. Saves: F--Kyle Greenhut 34; EH--Tom DeLucia 17.

Records: Fairfield 0-2-0, East Haven 2-0-0.

Reid L. Walmark

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