St. Joseph's run in state playoffs

St. Joseph High lost a 5-2 boys hockey decision to Darien High in the Division I state quarterfinal round in Stamford on Saturday.

The sixth-seeded Cadets finished with an 18-5-1 record, while third-seeded Darien improved to 18-2-2 and played second-seeded Notre Dame of West Haven (17-4-1) in Wednesday's semifinal at Yale’s Ingalls Rink.

Sean Smith scored unassisted at 14:07 of the first period to tie the game at 1, before Darien scored four times in the second period.

Christian Keator, with assists from Dom DeRosa and Colin Powell, scored for the Cadets at 7:18 of the third period.

Marc Van Etten had 39 saves and Darien’s Mike Collins made 37 saves.

St. Joseph used the element of fear, along with a tremendous amount of motivation to record a come-from-behind, 3-2 victory over 11th-seeded New Canaan (13-8-1)  in the opening round on March 6 in Shelton.

Down three players (two from suspensions and another from sickness), the Cadets came back from a two-goal deficit against the Rams.

St. Joseph sophomore Filippo Petrini scored two goals within a 2:04 span in the second period, before Keator provided the game-winner, scoring his 29th goal of the season at 9:01 of the third period.

“There was a time just a few years ago when we were the underdogs in both our conference and in state tournament play,” said Cadets’ coach Marty Crouse. “In those days, we were able to slide a few things past a few teams and come up with wins. Not anymore.

“Our wins today seem to take everything that we have. It doesn’t seem to matter who we play.”

Outshot 11-5 in the opening period, St. Joseph fell behind 1-0  when New Canaan’s first-line junior forward Henry Stanton, on an assist from Peter Richardson, scored at the nine-minute mark.

“Stanton is one of the fastest players I’ve seen,” said New Canaan’s veteran and wily coach, Bo Hickey.

“We’ve got speed throughout our three lines. But Henry is fast. With him, it’s like jet planes against Piper Cubs at 10,000 feet.”

When Stanton scored again, after taking a pass from behind the net off the stick of Luke Amero, at 11:17 of the second period, the Rams took a 2-0 lead.

That’s when Petrini’s play lifted the Cadets, when he drove home a low shot at 11:47 past a screened Chris Koennecke to make it a one-goal game.

At 13:49, Petrini got the equalizer as he scored unassisted after intercepting a pass in the New Canaan end and beating Koennecke on a shot from between the face-off circles.

“We simply didn’t have much fire early on,” Crouse declared. “We were sluggish and trying to beat a very good team three times in a season. What we needed to do was to start playing, to start putting shots on net.

“I thought we were still okay when we were down 2-0. I wouldn’t have felt that way if we fell behind by three or four goals.”

Keator was next to came through, after St. Joseph went on a power-play at 7:27 of the third period.

With just 26 seconds left in the advantage, Keator’s shot off a faceoff found the back of the net. Assisting on the goal were Ryan Corcoran and Matt Greenhut.

“I don’t think that we deserved to win this game,” Hickey said.

“I don’t know if we mentally packed it in. I know that my players never loaf for me on the ice...We seemed to relax just a little when we still should’ve been taking the play to them.”

That was evident in the third period, where the Cadets held a 9-3 margin in shots. For the game, St. Joseph held a 31-26 advantage.

Van Etten made 24 saves.