No. 1 Notre Dame-West Haven battles No. 2 Fairfield Prep to tie

BRIDGEPORT — The top two boys hockey teams in the state, No. 1 Notre Dame-West Haven and No. 2 Fairfield Prep, mirror each other with elite talent at goalie, defense and forward and they certainly showcased that talent at the Wonderland of Ice on Saturday.

In a hard-hitting, fast-paced game from start to finish, Ken Kochiss scored at 6:21 of the third period to lift Prep to a 4-4 tie with Notre Dame-West Haven.

Kochiss and forward Matt Wikman scored two goals apiece for the Jesuits (3-2-1) and forward Ryan Lynch scored all four goals for the Green Knights (5-1-1).

Prep goalie Matt Beck had 37 saves and Notre Dame goalie Wade Conlan had 38 saves. The on-ice defense for both teams deflected wide open shots in front of their respective goalies throughout the game.

“I did expect a close game like this but I thought the score would be lower,” Prep coach Matt Sather said. “It was a good game and Notre Dame did a good job getting the puck on our net. But we took some bad penalties that hurt us (ND scored two power play goals).

“We played well the last six minutes of the first period and in the third period we did have our opportunities. But we still have work to do to improve. Matt Wikman is sneaky fast and had a good game for us and Kochiss is a grinder who fights for the puck in the corners.”

After an opening-season loss to New Canaan, the Green Knights have gone 5-0-1.

“This was a great high school hockey game with two good hockey teams out there,” first-year Notre Dame coach Tim Belcher said. “Every time we scored they would answer and we just told our guys to stay positive.

“I was happy with our power play, both goalies played well and I was happy with our defense led by Jimmy Davins who had one of his better games.”

The Green Knights set the tone early when Lynch scored off a pass from Matt Dumas for a 1-0 lead at 3:23 of the first period. Wikman responded with a goal in front of the net at 8:56 of the first period to tie the game at 1.

Lynch opened the second period with a power-play goal 1:17 into the period for a 2-1 lead and Kochiss answered at 4:02 to tie the game at 2. Wikman gave the Jesuits their first lead at 3-2 at 12:20 of the second period off a slap shot from the right circle.

Lynch’s nose for the goal continued in the third period. He tied the game at 3 on a power-play goal 1:01 into the period and added another goal for a 4-3 ND lead with a goal at 2:17.

“Anytime we play Prep it’s a huge rivalry game and being No. 1 versus No. 2 raises the level of that rivalry,” Lynch said. “We thought it would come down to who made the most mistakes. It just feels good to be able to contribute against a tough team like Prep. We’re happy with a tie.”

Kochiss scored the equalizer on a power-play goal with 8:39 left in the third period. Both teams had three solid chances to score the game-winning goal in the 8-minute sudden-death overtime but both goalies made the saves to preserve the tie.