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Just two days after an impressive 5-2 win over Division II rival Branford, the Milford Co-op hockey team faced a Division III opponent, Trinity Catholic of Stamford, on Monday afternoon at the Milford Ice Pavilion.

The Crusaders entered the game with a roster of 10 players and by game’s end they were down to eight. In a contest that should’ve been easy pickings for the Indians, it took a two-goal spurt in the early stages of the third period before coach Sal Follo’s team was able to emerge with a 6-3 victory to even its record at 2-2 heading into a Wednesday night game against Amity Regional.

“This was a must win for us,” Follo said. “Our problem today was we didn’t come out with the same intensity that we did against Branford and they came out hard and battled us that way for two periods.”

The numbers problem is something that TC coach Mike Bernard will have to face all season long. He lost forward Logan Healy to a head injury in the first period and his leading scorer, Kyle Bernard, to a game misconduct penalty late in the game.

“It’s a simple law of physics for us,” said Bernard, whose team played its first game out of Division III after losses to Masuk (6-1), Joel Barlow (4-3) and a win over Sheehan (5-3). “You’re going to wear down and eventually tire out with that few players. We were good for two periods and that was it. Once that third period started and they scored twice right away, we were through. It’s going to be a long haul for us. Mentally these kids will have to just keep on going.”

After matching first-period goals, one by the Crusaders’ Kyle Bernard (1:16) and one from Milford’s Jacob Comeau (7:26), and being outshot 10-5 the Indians fell behind in the second when Daniel Bernard beat Milford freshman goalie Luke Alfano (15 saves) on a backhander at 1:46 while his team was skating with a one-man advantage (Milford’s Jake Burwell was serving a penalty for interference at the time).

Brandon Argyros had gotten the equalizer at 3:53 from in close, but Kyle Bernard broke in through the Indians’ defense and lofted a high shot in just under the crossbar. Argyros’ second goal of the game, at 14:20 of the second, brought his team even again at the end of two.

“We really underestimated their team early on in the game,” said Argyros, a senior forward. “Once we realized that, we picked it up. You’ve got to give them lots of credit. They stayed with us for two periods.”

Follo felt Argyros’ second goal was what turned the tempo of the game over to his team.

“We told our players in the locker room after the second period to just take it easy,” Follo said. “Just let things happen. I knew that skating three lines like we did against nine players had to work out in our favor sooner or later. Overall, a win is a win. That’s the important thing here.”

Milford saved its best hockey for the final 15 minutes.

Andrew Gobany, who scored two goals in the Branford win, made it a 4-3 game 13 seconds into the third period and Argyros completed his hat trick with a goal at 1:12. Comeau got his second of the night at 13:04 to close it out.

In between there were penalties and the subsequent ejection of Kyle Bernard. He drew two minors before he slammed his fist into the glass while he was in the penalty box. The officials had had enough.

“I didn’t like the number of penalties that we took (eight),” Follo said. “That’s not Milford hockey. It isn’t our style.”

Milford will meet a 1-4 Amity team on Wednesday night at West Haven’s Bennett Rink before returning to the Milford Ice Pavilion on Saturday afternoon (2:15 start) for a game with Watertown-Pomperaug.