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Tuesday, March 20 Sports

Big second period lifts Lancers past East Haven

Notre Dame-Fairfield's boys ice hockey team shook off a bit of a tough start, including a goal deficit, to score half a dozen unanswered goals en route to a 6-3 win over visiting East Haven at the Milford Ice Pavilion on Monday night.

The Lancers struck five times in the second period to turn a 1-1 deadlock into a lopsided affair between SCC/SWC rivals. Senior captain Christian La Croix recorded his 100th career point with an assist on the first Lancers' goal in the second period.

Notre Dame won its fifth straight and improved to 12-4-1 overall; the Yellow Jackets fell to 15-3-0. The teams played before a mostly-packed and noisy house split evenly between supporters of both schools.

The game was even at a goal apiece when La Croix came out of the defensive zone with speed, and made a pass to Mark Russo, who one-timed the puck home only 20 seconds into the period.

"It feels good but, at the same time, it doesn't really matter," La Croix said of reaching the milestone, adding that what is important is the team's level of success.

Russo's goal set the tone.

Nick Carloto finished off a nice passing sequence -- Jonny Suporn and Danny Walsh assisted on the play -- and it was 3-1 less than three minutes into the game's pivotal period.

Tyler Henchcliffe scored with one second left on a Notre Dame penalty kill to extend the lead to 4-1 midway through the game. Carloto made it 5-1 when he roofed a hard shot after taking a drop pass from Suporn.

Only six seconds into a late-period power play, defenseman Brendan Barger unleashed a blast of a slap shot to cap the Lancers' barrage.

"We just told the boys, `Let's settle down, let's relax, let's play our game,' " Notre Dame coach Steve Hetherman said. "I think when they settled down and they executed their game you saw immediate results."

The Lancers had a bit of a rough start. East Haven's Matthew Longobardi scored shorthanded early in the first.

Moments later, Notre Dame's Justin Dupuis took a hard, high open-ice hit and remained down for several minutes before skating off under his own power. Soon after, a hit-from-behind penalty on East Haven in the corner gave the Lancers a five-minute score-at-will man advantage.

Suporn and Carloto both hit the cross bar in the first period, one of which came on that extended man-up situation. Then, a penalty on the Lancers cost them two minutes of that power play time. Finally, with 2:19 left in the first, and just 51 seconds to go on that major penalty, Craig Hessenius took a long pass from goaltender Zak Bouve and whipped home a shot from the outside of the left circle, near the boards.

This wasn't any old game for Bouve. He played three years at East Haven before transferring to Notre Dame for his final season. He made 28 saves as the Lancers finished the game with a decisive 51-30 shots on goal advantage.

"It was a little bit of mixed emotions," Bouve said. "I definitely wanted to come out and play my best."

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Andy Hutchison is a freelance reporter