The North Branford hockey team ended a stellar season in the Division II state semifinals with a 5-3 loss to Branford on March 12. To reach the semifinals, the third-seeded T-Birds topped East Catholic (No. 14) and Milford Co-op (No. 6).
Against seventh-seeded Branford, North Branford got off to a quick start, taking a 2-0 lead just five minutes into the contest. Chris Burkle scored from Alec Martone just 1:13 into the game before Burkle assisted Dylan Podbielski with 10 minutes to play in the first period.
Branford, though, closed the first period with a barrage of goals to take a 4-2 lead into the second frame. Rob Celentano scored from Austin Hackett just 1:40 later. In the final two minutes of the first period, Branford scored three more goals from Tony Pascale (Rob Denhardt), Tyler Hackett (Austin Hackett, Celentano) and Celentano.
The second period was scoreless before Martone pulled the T-Birds within one just 1:15 into the third period, off assists from Podbielski and Nick Johnson. Branford got an insurance goal two minutes later when Pascale scored from Tyler Criscuolo.
The T-Birds outshot the Hornets 21-18 with North Branford's Kyle Saroka saving 13. The win improves Branford to 16-9 and puts the team in the finals against Trumbull on Friday. North Branford finished the 2011-12 season with a 13-9-1 overall record.