The Milford Indians took the ice at the Milford Pavilion on Saturday for the first home game of the season against NFA-St. Bernard, after dropping the season opener to North Branford by a 4-1 margin on Wednesday.
The Indians came away with a 4-2 win behind outstanding play from the defense and some sensational saves by goalie John DePalma, who stopped 23 shots.
Zach White led the attack with two goals and an assist. Rob Buskey had a goal and two assists and Will Vitelli had one goal and one assist.
“The kids came out and showed a real good effort,” Milford head coach Sal Follo said. “We got great goaltending from John and the offense played very well. We came out and met them on the blue line like we’re suppose to do.
“All three lines had scoring opportunities, but our first line of White, Buskey and Vitelli did real well. Once they get used to playing together they are going to be hard to stop.”
Four minutes in, Milford was strapped with back-to-back penalties that left it two-players short. The defense rose to the occasion here and kept NFA off the scoreboard.
Ben Lavallee and Jonathan DePascale converged out in front of the net to stop NFA and Colin DiPasa and Jared Butts teamed up to add to the defensive presence.
After killing off the penalty, the Indians went to work with 8:20 to go in the first period.
Jason Comeau came out from behind the net on a power play and dished it off to White. When an angle opened up, White put a pass on the stick of Buskey, who fired it into the back of the net.
With 2:46 left on the clock, Dylan Hallett controlled the puck and steered a pass through a pair of defenders. Buskey collected it and fired a pass to White on the right side of the cage. White eluded a defender and lifted a shot up over the shoulder of NFA goalie Jonah Beauton for a 2-0 lead.
Vitelli made it 3-0 when he skated across the crease and dumped one into the net for a 3-0 advantage at 12:20.
Milford then found itself back in a two-man disadvantage because of consecutive penalties and they escaped not once, but twice. That was the turning point of the game.
In a span of 20 seconds at 10:53, NFA had a two-man advantage and Turner Moss had a wide-open shot in front, but it sailed high over the cage. The Indians survived the penalties and the teams drew even.
Three minutes later, again the Indians were down two men on penalties only to have DePalma come to the rescue with three saves in a two-minute span.
“Killing off those penalties was huge,” Follo said. “We really stepped it up and executed the way we have in practice over the last few days.”
Dec. 22, Wilton, 1
Dec. 29, Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe, 1
Jan. 2 at Branford, 4