Not finishing games has been the demise of the hockey team (1-7-2) this season. Of their seven losses, five were by one goal and in four games, including the other two losses and both ties, the Stags gave up a lead.

“We haven’t been playing to win,” said Head Coach Jim Hunt. “We’ve been playing not to lose.” He believes that Fairfield’s opponents deserve a lot of credit for playing well in desperate times. “We need to match their desperation with poise and character,” explained Hunt.

The Stag’s are led by eight seniors including Ray Metz, who has led the team in scoring the last three seasons. Senior Casey LaFlamme has also impressed by registering a point in four of the Stag’s last six games. Sophomore goaltender Michael Wolfe has played very well. He made 28 saves in Fairfield’s only win against Bentley. Hunt has been pleasantly surprised by the play of freshman Sammy Vatrano who had a goal against Iona that gave Fairfield a temporary 2-1 lead.

Fairfield’s goal at the beginning of the season was to make the playoffs. “We’ve made it hard on ourselves by not holding onto leads,” explained Hunt. Even after the slow start Hunt believes their goal is still very attainable.

The Stags just returned from a break over Thanksgiving and Hunt was encouraged by how the team practiced. Fairfield will have a lot more time to prepare with only four games in the month of December. “Our destiny is in our hands,” Hunt said. The Stags will have to win games in January and February if they plan to make a playoff run in March.

At times this season, Fairfield has looked very good. In the first two periods, Fairfield has been tougher than almost any team they have played. They have struggled to score and defend in the third period and are also winless in three overtime games.

“We’re a blue collar team,” explained Hunt. “We’re not flashy. We need to count on tough play and timely goals.”

One of the toughest losses came against non-league opponent Vermont. The Stags surrendered two leads to the Catamounts, before eventually allowing a goal with 38 seconds left in overtime. Within their league, the Stags fell to Iona 4-3 just before Thanksgiving break after holding a 2-1 advantage.

Fairfield looks ahead to important non-league games against Air Force and Alabama Huntsville. They will also get a rematch against Iona at home on Dec. 6 at 8 p.m.

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