EAST HAVEN -- On a typical Monday morning, the Darien girls hockey team, like most high-school students, are sitting through their math or history classes, but this Monday was quite a bit different, as the Blue Wave took to the East Haven Ice Rink looking to win their second straight heading into the Christmas break.
On the strength of a monstrous three-goal third period and a two-goal performance by Ellie Bennett, the Blue Wave did exactly that, defeating Guilford 4-1.
Bennett's first tally came 3:23 into the final period on the power play after receiving a pass from Samantha Nielsen, putting Darien in front to stay.
"I saw a little sliver of net in the corner, shot it and hoped for the best and it slipped right in there," Bennett said. "We came into the third period after our coaches told us that it's unacceptable and that we should be beating this team as well as we beat Simsbury the other night."
Near the end of a scoreless second period and with the score still knotted at 1-1, Guilford had a power play opportunity, but Nicole Raccula was denied from close range by a quick right pad save by Darien goalie Shannon Hall, who turned away 13 Guilford shots.
"When it's really crazy like that in front of the net I just react. I don't really think about it too much. It's better to just react," Hall said. "(Penalty kills) are really important. We work on them a lot in practice, so it really paid off."
Georgia Cassidy gave Darien the lead less than two minutes into the game after receiving a pass from Hannah McLane, but Guilford countered on an offensive zone faceoff during which Alexa Petritz won the draw cleanly to Alexandra Cafriero, who ripped a shot into the Darien net to tie the game at 1-1. It would remain that way until the first of Bennett's third period tallies.
Darien netted a pair of insurance goals when Sage Thacher and Bennett scored at 7:43 and 11:52, respectively. The lead could have grown larger had it not been for several strong saves by Guilford netminder Edy Moritz, who stopped 31 Darien shots.
"Guilford has a couple forwards that can hurt you, and their goaltending is outstanding. A mistake on the faceoff cost a goal, and then we're in a battle," Darien coach Jamie Tropsa said.
Darien's special team units excelled all day, going two-for-two on its own power play opportunities while turning away both of Guilford's man advantages.
"They did a great job pounding the puck down and getting some opportunities on net and capitalizing on them and it was nice to see," Tropsa said.
"We've been working a lot on special teams in practice. I think the real key is they tell us to conserve energy because guaranteed they're going to make a mistake if we're cool, calm collected," Bennett said.
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DARIEN 4, GUILFORD 1
DARIEN 1 0 3--4
GUILFORD 1 0 0--1
Records: Darien 3-1. Goals: D-Ellie Bennett 2, Georgia Cassidy, Sage Thacher; G-Alexandra Cafriero. Assists: D-Samantha Nielsen, Hannah McLane, Amanda Sload, Courtney Lowe, Logan Book; G-Alexa Petritz. Goalies: D-Shannon Hall (13 saves); G-Edy Moritz (22). Shots: D-35; G-14.