eschickler@bcnnew.com

Goalies tend to make a difference in certain games. Sophomore netminder Alex Skinner stole a point for the Staples-Weston co-op boys hockey team on Tuesday in a 3-3 home tie to Fairfield at the Rinks at Shelton. Skinner made 47 saves for Staples to move its record to 2-9-1. Fairfield had a 50-20 shots on goal advantage and is now 3-6-1.

"Our defense was good for most of the game and it was a matter of staying focused," Skinner said.

Although the Mustangs outshot the Wreckers 14-6 in the first period, Staples ended the period with a 1-0 lead, courtesy of senior captain Danny Carbone's unassisted goal off a breakaway with 7:14 remaining. Skinner's play also frustrated Fairfield.

Junior captain Chris Santello tied it for the Mustangs with 12:56 left in the period. Fairfield continued to control play and outshot the Wreckers 12-9 in the period. However, Staples was able to generate offense and regained the lead, 2-1, with 6:28 to go on sophomore Aaron Liu's goal from sophomore alternate captain Kyle Wehmhoff.

"Aaron was cutting to the net, called for the puck and I gave it to him," Wehmhoff said.

Junior Chris Stern tied it for the Mustangs 1:11 later from Santello and junior Brian Underkofler.

Wehmhoff regained the lead for Staples on a slapshot from senior captain Michael Zaken with 4:10 left. Fairfield then removed freshman goalie Robert Ficaria (10 saves) and replaced him with senior Patrick Cooney (seven saves).

"I just shot it from the blue line because our coach told us to shoot," Wehmhoff said.

The third period belonged to the Mustangs as they outshot the Wreckers, 16-3. Fairfield owned the final 23 minutes of the game as it outshot Staples 8-1 in overtime to close out with a 24-4 advantage in that span.

If it weren't for Skinner, the Mustangs would have left Shelton with the win. Senior captains Henry Simonds and Sean Kittredge fired shots from point-blank range that Skinner snagged and tied up. Stern tried to poke it home but was stymied by Skinner.

"A lot of them like to shoot high," Skinner said. "I tried not to make the first move and I let them make the first move."

Carbone, juniors Luke Andriuk and Ben Brancucci and freshman Liam O'Leary played well defensively and did what they could to make things easier for Skinner. Liu cleared it a few times as well.

"Once we were up in the second period, we expected to win to come easily and we took things for granted in the third period," Wreckers junior captain Tali Laifer said. "Fairfield played better than us in the third period and overtime and Alex Skinner played well in net and definitely kept us in the game."

A penalty on the Wreckers with 4:34 in regulation gave the Mustangs an opportunity. With 3:48 to go, Fairfield took advantage and Santello tied it off a sliding pass from Brown.

Brown had two chances to win it in overtime but Skinner stonewalled him. Although Staples is happy to escape with the tie despite being outplayed, it knows it could have won.

"I think we were looking for the win and it would have helped our chances of making States," Laifer said.