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Prep defeats ND for second time

A very determined Notre Dame of Fairfield squad gave its all on Monday afternoon at Bridgeport’s Wonderland Of Ice, but the Lancers came up a goal short, losing 2-1, as top-ranked Fairfield Prep extended its win streak to 17 games.
It was a much better effort this time around for ND which lost, 7-2, to Prep on Dec. 20. Since then, the Lancers had put together an eight-game win streak, which ended with a 2-0 loss to Glastonbury.
The loss to Prep left ND with a 9-7 record heading into last night’s game against second-ranked Notre Dame of West Haven, a team the Lancers beat, 2-1, on Jan. 12 to begin their winning run.
A combination of a solid defensive effort and the goal-tending of junior Chris Gutierrez (15 saves) were the primary reasons why the Jesuits came out on top.
“Our defense (led by Sean Henry and Kevin Brown) was very active today,” Prep head coach Matt Sather said. “They blocked a lot of shots with their skates. When they’re doing that, and we’re clearing the puck well, it makes it much easier for our goal tender. Chris didn’t see that many rebound shots.”
Prep scored the only goal it needed at the 7:41 mark of the first period when Brown’s shot from the right point went in past Lancer goalie Stone Denbok.
The play was set up from down low in the offensive zone with assists going to Connor Henry and the always-active David White.
In the period, ND had its best offensive display of the game, getting off eight shots. The Lancers’ Greg Ferris almost connected, sending one shot off the crossbar less than three minutes in.
The Jesuits had the better of play in period two, putting numerous shots on goal and holding a 10-3 margin there. Neither team could score.
ND’s Sal Sereno had the best chance, but he wasn’t able to find what appeared to be an empty side of the net, sending a shot by at 4:35.
Exactly five minutes into the third period, Prep’s Matt Wikman converted with a door-step goal, after taking a cross-ice pass from Henry. Denbok had no chance on the play. Ken Kochiss initiated the setup and picked up an assist.
Now trailing by two goals, the Lancers put forth more effort and it paid off when Ferris scored on the power play.
His high-rising shot from a good angle got into the upper part of the net above Gutierrez.
It came at 10:19 of the period, while Kochiss was serving a minor penalty for high sticking.
The Lancers’ took Denbok off ice for an extra attacker with 37 seconds showing on the clock to no avail.
“We had a good effort today against the state’s best team and to lose, while it’s never fun, wasn’t as tough to take today as it could’ve been,” ND head coach Steve Hetherman said. “When you work hard and execute well, it can make up for mistakes.
“We were much more disciplined this time. We took way too many penalties and even a major the first time we met and Prep killed with their power play.”
Prep finished with 30 shots, evening them out with 10 in each period. Denbok made 28 saves and protected the net well.
“They’ve made great strides,” Sather said about the Lancers. “They were much more enthusiastic and energetic this time than when we played them before.
“They have the ability and no one should sleep on them the rest of this year.”
Sather was pleased with his defense, but was hoping that his offense could’ve produced another goal or two.
“We have Catholic Memorial (of Massachusetts) on Wednesday,” he said. “They’re always one of the better teams in their state. It will be a real test for us.”
As for the winning streak and to still be undefeated at this point in the season, which is a rarity for a high-school hockey team, Sather deferred any answers on that question.

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