Serenson, West Haven stop rival Notre Dame in hockey
WEST HAVEN >> When the Notre Dame-West Haven and West Haven hockey teams battle on the ice, no added incentive is needed. Throw in the fact the teams were representing local police and fire departments in the Police and Fire Appreciation contest, the game had even more meaning.
Behind an outstanding effort from Brendan Serenson in goal with 32 saves, West Haven topped Notre Dame 2-1 in a classic Southern Connecticut Conference Division I contest at the Edward L. Bennett Rink Saturday evening.
“The intensity here was great,” Serenson said. “Both teams really brought it. I thought we did a great job getting through the first period. We were able to pull together.”
Despite being outplayed through the first 20 minutes of the contest, West Haven (10-4) jumped on the scoreboard first. With the puck sitting in the crease, freshman Kevin Moriarty poked the loose puck past Notre Dame senior goaltender Liam Connell for a 1-0 lead with 5:34 gone by in the middle period.
The Westies gained momentum and, after Connell denied a pair of quality scoring chances, Pete Richetelli increased the lead. Taking a pass from freshman Robbie Forleo in the slot, Richetelli quickly beat Connell for a 2-0 advantage with 4:18 to go in the period.
“Brendan Serenson kept us in the game,” West Haven coach Joe Morrell said. “They keys to our success have been getting great goaltending and scoring three goals. Today, we got two. We were fortunate today.”
West Haven looked as if it would take a two goal lead to the third period, but a late burst by the Green Knights made things interesting in the final two minutes. Off a scramble in front, Michael Ansaldo beat Serenson to the top corner off assists from Thomas Driscoll and Clayton Coassin to cut the deficit in half with 1:49 left in the second.
“I thought their goaltender frustrated us,” Notre Dame coach Tim Belcher said. “He (Serenson) played great. I thought he was the best player on the ice tonight. You have to give him all the credit. He was a game-changer tonight. Hats off to him.”
With the intensity of the contest, the game did not go without incident as a pair of players from both teams received major penalties in the final seconds. It was unclear after the game if those four players would be sitting the next game.
“I just told the kids that was unacceptable behavior at the end of the game,” Belcher said. “There are ways you lose a game. That was unacceptable to me. There is a bigger picture out there. You have to lose the way you win.”
Said Morrell, “It was an emotional game. Sometimes the emotions are too big for the kids. You never want to see that.”
The Green Knights (8-6), ranked fifth in the Register/GameTimeCT Top 10 poll, dominated play in the opening period, holding a 14-6 shot advantage, but neither team could find the back of the net.
While Notre Dame had its share of opportunities, the best chances for both teams in the first period came in the final minutes as Notre Dame’s Matt Ciaburro was denied on an angle in front with 30 seconds to go, and West Haven’s Collin Braziel was turned away by Connell from point blank range in front with eight seconds left in the period.
Serenson also denied Ciaburro two times earlier, stopping the senior on a rebound in front 4:29 in, and again from the slot with eight minutes to go in the period.
Connell finished with 22 saves for Notre Dame.