Jack McCormick's overtime goal lifts skaters

The Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe ice hockey team needed 65 minutes before it defeated Westhill of Stamford, 3-2 in overtime on Jack McCormick’s one-timer in front of the crease on Feb. 1.
McCormick, a sophomore, scored two goals while junior Trevor DeMilt scored the other for Fairfield (4-6).
“Our center tied up their center and the right wing tied up his man and I just came over and took the shot,” McCormick said.
McCormick’s game-winner was unassisted. Austin Armas, Owen Emmendorfer, Charlie Pippert and PJ O’Reilly had assists on the other tallies.
Nick Rich and Gunnar Eriksen scored for the Vikings (2-11), assisted by Matt Abt and Neal Smolinski.
“The hardest part for us, being in the FCIACs and being a young team is just getting to the state tournament,” said Fairfield coach Mark Pettorini.
“We’re not going to have the greatest record in the world. We didn’t have the greatest record in the world last year (when they won states), but we play a very, very difficult schedule so we’ll get in by the skin of our teeth and then we’ll do damage when we get there. That’s kind of our motto.”
In the early going, Emmendorfer and Trevor Demilt put pressure on Westhill freshman netminder Christian Compolattaro, forcing him to make three saves early.
McCormick and Emmendorfer tried to move the puck around two Westhill defensemen, but the Vikings cleared the puck out to stop the Fairfield scoring chance.
The Mustangs then went on a power play, and although they didn’t score, Fairfield pressured Compolattaro with shots on net from Jack O’Rourke, Conor Scharlop and Armas before heading into the first intermission 0-0.
“We lost 13 from last year so a lot of young guys jumped right into big roles,” Pettorini said. “That’s why we struggled a lot in the beginning, but the puzzle is starting to come together.
“Guys like Jack (McCormick), guys like Owen (Emmendorfer), these are two sophomores that are putting the puck in the net. They’re two of our leading scorers.”
Fairfield started the second period with the man advantage but again came up empty. The Mustangs kept the pressure with shots from Zach Weinstein, Matt Stern and O’Reilly.
Stern nearly scored when Armas found him at the door step in front of the crease, but Compolattaro made the save.
The game remained scoreless until 5:24 to go in the second, when the Vikings broke through Fairfield goalie Mike Grace, who had turned away six shots prior to that.
Smolinski behind the net found Rich in front, and he shot a wrister past Grace for the score.
Two and a half minutes later, Demilt tied it up when Armas found him at the left of net and he snuck the puck past Compolattaro to make it 1-1. Pippert also had a helper on the goal.
Faifield took the lead a minute after, when O’Reilly won the face-off and sent it to Emmendorfer who found Demilt for a quick wrist shot which went top shelf over Compollataro’s shoulder for the score.
The Mustangs entered the third period with a 2-1 lead with their sights on a second straight win.
Fairfield went on two power plays, but couldn’t convert either into goals. In the first, they didn’t register a shot.
In their second about three minutes later, Armas got two shots on goal, McCormick also put one on net and Compolattaro had to make a quick glove save.
With 4:20 to play, Westhill tied it on Eriksen’s slap shot from near the blue line to make it 2-2 and send it to overtime.
In the extra period, Fairfield put the pressure on the Westhill net, dominating puck possession.
The Mustangs got shots from O’Rourke, Stern and Armas before the game-winner at 5:19. McCormick came across the crease and ripped a wrist shot to win the game, 3-2 for Fairfield.
“Every practice, every game we get a little better and a little better,” Pettorini said. “We’re really young. We only retained four kids from last year’s team, none of them were really role players so we’re still learning still getting comfortable. It’s a work in progress.”

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