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Wednesday, April 25 Sports

Notre Dame of Fairfield hockey team rolls into Division I semifinals

NEW HAVEN -- Notre Dame-Fairfield coach Steve Hetherman called his team's performance in its 11-1 thumping of East Haven in the Division I boys ice hockey quarterfinals Saturday night at Yale's Ingalls Rink one of the best efforts of the 2013-14 season. Perhaps when he reflects on it after this playoff run is over, he might modify it to the best in a big spot.

Yet he might not, if Notre Dame amps it up further in the semifinals Wednesday night at Ingalls against No. 4 Darien, which qualified for the Final Four by defeating No. 12 South Windsor 5-0 on Saturday. The No. 1 Lancers were solid, if not spectacular, in all phases of play in improving to 18-4-1 and ending No. 8 East Haven's season at 17-5-0.

They opened a 4-0 lead after one period, gave up the first goal in the second period but did little, if anything, to let the Yellowjackets mount a rally. It was 7-1 after two periods. Christian La Croix got four goals for Notre Dame, completing his hat-trick to give the Lancers a 6-1 lead on their only power play score of the game. Danny Walsh and Garrett Gintoli each fired two goals past East Haven goalie Tom DeLucia, and Ryan Gawricki supplied three assists and Tyler Henchcliffe set up two goals for the Lancers.

The only thing Notre Dame, which beat East Haven 6-3 on Feb. 24, did not do was score shorthanded, though they limited the Yellowjackets' potent power play to one conversion in seven chances. Notre Dame did, however, come close to capitalizing on a two-on-one while killing a penalty.

"It was one of our best efforts of the year," said Hetherman, who did not pause to do a quick comparison with other standout games this winter. But he did elaborate, adding: "In all three zones and all facets of play."

Notre Dame senior goaltender Zak Bouve (25 saves) stopped a tricky redirection by East Haven 3 minutes and 59 seconds into the game while it was still scoreless. Hetherman acknowledged it was a big save.

"My team came out on fire and set the tone," said Bouve, the Yellowjackets' starter last year before transferring to Notre Dame. "My guys did a great job. I wasn't tested too much, but when I did (get tested), I knew I had to come up big."

La Croix's last four-goal game came before his high school career.

"The coaches always preach about a quick start," La Croix said. "Our goal is to get better each game we play. We really showed that tonight. We're one game at a time. It doesn't matter who we play, we know we can beat anyone."

Semifinal opponent Darien had gone 17-0-1 since a season-opening loss before losing to Notre Dame 2-1 on Feb. 22 at Webster Bank Arena.

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

Division I quarterfinals

EAST HAVEN 0 1 0--1

ND-FAIRFIELD 4 3 4--11

Records: East Haven 17-5-0; ND-Fairfield 18-4-1. Goals: EH--Michael Falanga; NDF--Christian La Croix 4, Danny Walsh 2, Garrett Gintoli 2, Jonny Supporn, Justin Dupuis, Brendan Barger. Assists: EH--Matthew Longobardi; NDF-- Ryan Gawricki 3, Tyler Henchcliffe 2, Nick Carloto, AJ Lucatino, Cooper Demchak, Mark Russo, Dupuis. Goalies: EH--Tom DeLucia (28 saves); NDF--Zak Bouve (25). Shots: EH--26; NDF--39.

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