Fairfield skaters take 5th straight with win over Staples
After defeating New Canaan and Ridgefield in back-to-back games this week, it’s fair to say to the Fairfield co-op boys hockey team entered Wednesday’s tilt with Staples-Weston-Shelton brimming with confidence and momentum.
It took a while for the Mustangs to get out of the gate, but once they did they looked every bit as their now 6-1-1 gaudy record suggests with another impressive performance.
Emerging as one of the top scorers in the state, Jake Fuss fired a hat trick and goalie Mike Grace made 22 saves for the shutout as Fairfield blanked Staples 4-0 at the Milford Ice Pavilion. The win was the fifth straight for the Mustangs.
Staples held its own through the first 20 minutes and was only behind 1-0 as a result of a Fuss power play goal from the point. Fairfield began dominating the game late in the second period, and was rewarded with two goals in 41 seconds to grab control of the game.
“If we don’t work hard we are going to lose,” Grace said. “We weren’t at our best early but once we outworked (Staples), we started getting pucks at the net and they went in.”
Fuss tipped in a shot from a teammate from a sharp angle and sophomore Sam Shepard notched his first varsity goal to give the Mustangs a 3-0 lead heading into the second intermission.
Fuss would finish off his hat trick early in the third off a breakaway, and Fairfield’s defense locked in to seal the win.
“He’s not selfish and he’s a great team player,” Grace said. “He scores when he can but he’s always trying to set up a teammate. He’s only going to take the quality shots.”
In an omen for how the puck would bounce for Staples, senior Ryan Johnson — a club teammate of Grace — had his penalty shot saved six minutes into the game by Grace. The Wreckers would also hit the post and collect several other quality chances at the cage.
“I’m friends with (Johnson), so I had a feeling he was going to want to pull a lot of moves,” Grace said. “As soon as he put the puck between his legs I got my stick there.”
After the shutout against the Wreckers, Grace has now yielded just two goals in his last three games — all against powerful offenses.
“I try to prepare the same way and get in rhythm,” Grace said. “If something goes wrong I’ll change it; the coaches in practice help me out a lot.”
Both teams remain strong favorites in their respective divisions as the Wreckers dropped to 6-3 with the defeat. Staples was missing top scoring threat Sam New, who will miss time through injury.
Fairfield 4, Staples-Weston-Shelton 0
FAIRFIELD 1 2 1—4
STAPLES 0 0 0—0
Records: Fairfield 6-1-1; Staples-Weston-Shelton 6-3. Goals: F—Jake Fuss 3, Sam Shepard. Assists: F—Carson Rush, Calvin Sharp, Owen Emmendorfer 2, Rutger Galliard. Goalies: S—Zack Bloom (24 saves); F—Mike Grace (22). Shots: F—28; S—22.