Greenwich boys ice hockey coach Jack Duffy has been waiting for his team to string together 45 minutes of consistent play all season and today it certainly happened.
And as a result, the state’s only team that did not have a loss was defeated.
The combined Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe Co-Op team sported a record of 9-0, while averaging 6.2 goals per game through its first nine games, yet it couldn’t solve Cardinals goaltender Cole Studwell on this day.
Studwell, a junior, made 25 saves and Greenwich received goals from seniors Randall Feda and Grady Kaali-Nagy in a spirited 2-0 win over Fairfield/Warde Ludlowe at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink.
While the Mustangs nine-game winning streak was halted, the Cardinals extended their unbeaten streak. Since starting the season 1-5, Greenwich is 5-0-1 in its last six games to improve its record to 6-5-1.
“We haven’t played 45 minutes in a game – tonight we did and I think it was really a great effort up and down the lineup,” Duffy said. “Maybe we turned the corner.”
The Cardinals’ goals came during the first and third period. The home team outshot Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe 29-25 and killed several Mustangs power plays.
“We’ve had the passion and I think we’re starting to develop some discipline and the puck is starting to go in for us,” Duffy said. “We had a plan going in that we were going to play good team defense and the boys stuck to that. They didn’t panic when Fairfield had pressure in our end.”
Fairfield Co-Op got 27 saves from senior goalie Tommy Adams. Entering the FCIAC matchup, the Mustangs hadn’t scored less than four goals in any of their previous nine games.
“We weren’t prepared to play mentally or physically,” Fairfield coach Mark Mongillo said. “We played one period, the second period. It’s a learning lesson, a life lesson. What you put in is what you get out of it. Tommy played terrific, but he has to have a team in front of him.”
The Cards seized a 1-0 lead with 7:57 remaining in the first period. Possessing the puck at the point, junior defenseman Owen Lanzarone slid the puck to Feda, who from just outside the right faceoff circle, slapped a shot past Adams, giving Greenwich a 1-0 advantage.
“It came to the point and I got a pass from my ‘D’ partner and I just ripped it home,” Feda said of his goal. “It was nice to get bodies in front to screen the goalie.”
Taking the early edge seemed to spark the host Cardinals, who registered 10 shots on goal during the opening period.
“It was really important, because we had to keep our momentum going,” Feda said.
Studwell was up to the task of facing the Mustangs, a squad that hasn’t experienced scoring issues this season. He registered seven first-period saves, turning away shots from Fairfield’s Charlie Swanson, Alex Melillo and Noah Kingsly.
“He was great, he was calm,” Duffy said of Studwell. “They’ll throw a puck at you from anywhere. He was alert, controlling his rebounds and he was solid.”
Greenwich went on a power play at the 10:56 mark of the second period due to a Fairfield interference penalty and tested Adams in goal. GHS junior forwards Will Duncan and Matt Trimmer directed shots at Adams, as did senior forward Nate Duffy. The score remained 1-0, however, as both goalies rose to the occasion.
The Cardinals’ penalty kill was sharp, keeping the Mustangs scoreless on another power play in the second period.
“We moved the puck, everybody sees what we do, but if you don’t move your feet on the power play, you usually won’t score,” Mongillo said. “It’s a team effort.”
In the third period, the Cardinals gained the breathing room they were seeking.
Feda snapped a shot on goal from just below the blue line and Kaali-Nagy, who was positioned in front of the net, tipped it in, putting Greenwich on top, 2-0, with 14:06 to go in the final period. Duffy also assisted on the Cardinals’ important tally.
“Having that second goal helped us keep going the entire game and didn’t give us any doubt,” Feda said.
Studwell made seven more saves in the third period for the Cardinals, who were paced defensively by junior Feda, junior Peter Lewis, senior Brendan Frost and Lanzarone.
“They were amazing all day, not just the defense – it was a total team effort,” Studwell said. “Coach Duffy is implementing our hard forecheck and we are playing really hard and trying to outwork every single team we play against. The defense did a really good job of making it pretty easy for me.”
The game was a rematch of last season’s FCIAC Tournament semifinals, won by Greenwich. The Cardinals defeated the Mustangs twice last season and have beaten them four consecutive times overall.
“I wouldn’t want to see them coming into the rink anytime soon, because they’re a good team,” coach Duffy said of Fairfield. “I think we played our best game of the year tonight.”
“Our team worked really hard tonight,” Feda added. “Usually we have a downfall in the second period we noticed in the past games, so this game we kept the momentum all 45 minutes during the periods.”
During its current six-game unbeaten streak, Greenwich (3-1 in the FCIAC) has yielded just nine goals and has posted shutouts in two of its last three contests.
“We played 45 minutes tonight and that made the difference,” Kaali-Nagy said. “We gave 100 percent, 100 percent of the time and we really worked hard. This is the birth of a new season for us. I think the season starts today. It’s a big confidence-booster, but we know what we’re capable of. We can be the best team in this league when we put our minds to it and put in 100 percent.”
Categories: Greenwich High, Winter sports
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