Jesuits win 16th hockey title

Fairfield Prep’s Dean Lockery (22) brings the puck up ice against Darien High’s Jack Massie. The Jesuits defeated the Blue Wave, 2-1, on Vincent D’Amore’s goal at 6:09 of overtime. (Photos by David G. Whitham)

Fairfield Prep’s Dean Lockery (22) brings the puck up ice against Darien High’s Jack Massie. The Jesuits defeated the Blue Wave, 2-1, on Vincent D’Amore’s goal at 6:09 of overtime.
(Photos by David G. Whitham)

Vincent D’Amore scored the winning goal at 6:09 of overtime to give Fairfield Prep a 2-1 victory over Darien in the Division I hockey final at Ingalls Rink on March 22.
D’Amore’s marker, off of an assist from Ryan Deering, lifted the third-seeded Jesuits to their second straight Division I crown and the 16th state title in school history.
“It was just a great pass by Deering along the wall there,” said D’Amore, a junior defenseman. “Watching it hit the back of the net was the greatest feeling. Watching my teammates come at me, it was amazing.”
Prep forced the extra session by tying the game on Dean Lockery’s third-period goal, set up by Kenny Kochiss. It came mere seconds after Prep had an apparent equalizer wiped out by the referee’s whistle, when Darien goaltender Michael Colon had attempted to freeze the puck.
“It’s deflating but that’s the way we’ve been all year,” Prep coach Matt Sather said. “We’ve had a rough year with injuries, we’ve had a rough year with new guys playing up and down, but these guys are resilient… We’re just going to play the next shift.”
Said D’Amore:
“We bounced right back and showed our relentlessness.”

Prep’s Will Schlichtig (28) battles Darien’s Aidan Loh (17) for the puck.

Prep’s Will Schlichtig (28) battles Darien’s Aidan Loh (17) for the puck.

Darien, the fourth seed, grabbed a 1-0 edge in the first period on a goal by Robert Juterbock, who cut in front of the net and beat Prep goalie Chris Gutierrez to the stick side. From there, Gutierrez made eight saves to blank the Blue Wave the rest of the way.
Colon was brilliant between the pipes for Darien, making 34 stops — including a bevy of highlight-reel saves. But, Prep was able to beat the senior keeper once in the third period and again on D’Amore’s game-winner in overtime to win the state championship.
The Blue Wave (22-4-1), after posting a pair of one-goal victories over Prep in the regular season, got off to a great start on Saturday. Juterbock took a pass from Jack Pardue and beat Gutierrez at 3:05 of the opening period.
After that, it was one-way traffic in the Darien zone.
“Once we started passing the puck better, that’s when the ice tilted a little bit,” Sather said.
The Jesuits, led by Lockery’s 11 attempts, held a 9-4 advantage in shots in the first period, 9-0 in the second period and 13-4 in the third. Prep also controlled overtime, owning a 5-1 edge, for a total margin of 36-9.
“I didn’t expect the shots to be like that, but that’s more a function of them thinking to protect that lead, which they did a great job of,” Sather said.
Behind its senior goalie Colon, Darien managed to stay in the game despite the constant deluge.
Facing an almost unyielding barrage, Colon was up to the task. He made back-to-back pad saves midway through the third period to preserve the one-goal margin, before Lockery forged the deadlock at 8:49 of the third period.
“We had over forty-five shots on our book,” Sather said. “The kid, that backdoor save he made on Dean on the power play was ridiculous. So athletic, so poised.”
Brendan Killoy wired in a shot from the point in the closing seconds of the third period, but Colon smothered it to send the game into overtime. Lockery almost won it with 9:04 left in OT, pouncing on a Blue Wave turnover, but he fired wide of the net.
The winner finally came at 6:09, with D’Amore, a junior, netting the goal that denied Darien a chance at winning its first hockey state title since 1969.
“When you get into a game like this, let’s face it, it’s a bounce,” Sather said. “And we got it. We’ve been on the other end too, so we know what it feels like.”
It was an especially rewarding victory for Gutierrez, a Darien native who was in a platoon with fellow goalie Matt Beck last season during the Jesuits’ title run.
“Losing to them two times during the regular season, you sort of want to beat your friends from back home,” Gutierrez said. “To be able to come to the championship game and beat them — I started hockey with them and it’s good to go out against them.”
After Gutierrez made 25 saves to lead the Jesuits to a 4-1 win over Ridgefield High in last year’s semifinals, Sather went back to Beck in the final — where he made 20 stops to stifle Notre Dame of West Haven in a 3-2 Prep win.
“Last year, I was super happy for Matt in net,” Gutierrez said. “It just made me hungry to get my own chance in net. It was just a great feeling to be out here in the final game.”
Said Sather:
“It’s not easy playing against your hometown guys… He loses twice and comes out here and almost pitches a shutout.”
The championship-clinching tally came from an unlikely source in D’Amore, who potted his only two goals — the other came in a first-round playoff win over Hamden High — of the season during the Division I state tournament.
“I haven’t been a goalscorer all year,” D’Amore said.
Despite a paucity of goals to show for it, Sather tabbed D’Amore as having the hardest shot on the team.
Sather said, “He loves nothing better than getting it off. It doesn’t happen very often because he’s more of a defensive guy, but you could almost see it develop. You could see him getting excited.”

About author

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

© HAN Network. All rights reserved. Fairfield Sun, 1000 Bridgeport Avenue, Shelton, CT 06484

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress