Milford hockey team defeats Newtown High

After the final horn sounded to end the Milford co-op boys hockey team’s season-opening 4-2 victory over Newtown, at Milford Ice Pavilion on Saturday, Milford coach Sal Follo had plenty of reason to smile.

“I’m very happy. This is a load off everyone’s shoulders because it took so long to get our first win last year, and we won only four games,” Follo said. “We got contributions from all three lines today and that’s what you want.”

Milford snapped a scoreless tie 4:43 into the second period and netted three goals in a span of less than five minutes in the middle stanza to seize control.

Matt Gilebbi, assisted by Jason Lavalee and Santiago Palacio, opened the scoring with a power play tally. Gilebbi added a third-period goal to cap the scoring.

Joe Stacy got behind the defense and scored 8:41 into the second period. The goal was set up by Michael Stevens and Jared Hubler after Milford won a defensive zone faceoff.

The Indians again capitalized on a faceoff win just 31 seconds later. Centerman Jacob Rooney won an attack zone draw and Brett Pisani whipped home Milford's third goal of the afternoon.

“We did an excellent job. I don’t think we lost many faceoffs,” Follo said of Rooney, Gilebbi and Stacy.

Milford goaltender Derek Ouellette kept the Nighthawks off the board through two periods with some strong saves.

Holding a 1-0 lead at the time, he made a pair of penalty kill stops, including one on a doorstep opportunity. Ouellette also made a middle period breakaway save on Newtown's Eli Kirby.

Ouellette stopped 23 shots and his counterpart Justin Halmose made 25 save,s as Milford finished the game with a 29-25 shots on goal advantage.

“Derek covers his angles, he stayed up, he controlled his rebounds and he challenged them,” Follo said of Ouelette. “When you come up with a big save it makes the team work that much harder,” the coach said.

Milford had strong defensive play from blueliners Scott Wright and Jake Burwell.

Rich Carino, Gilebbi, Burwell and Lavallee were strong on the penalty kill.

It took Milford only 1:40 to strike in the third period as Gilebbi notched his second tally. Ryan Ahern and Carino assisted the goal.

Newtown scored twice in the final period but the Milford win was never really in doubt after the home team claimed a 4-0 lead.

“We have to minimize our breakdowns,” Follo said of an area in which he would like to see his team improve. He was thrilled with the across-the-board team effort.