STAMFORD -- It was a Division I high school boys ice hockey heavyweight battle Monday as No. 6 ranked Darien hosted No. 1 ranked Notre Dame of West Haven.
Fittingly, it took until the 45th and final minute to settle this hard-fought skirmish at Darien ice rink.
Darien's hard work was rewarded as Tommy Watters scored on a rebound with 45.9 seconds left in regulation to give the Blue Wave a 1-0 triumph.
"Both teams were tired from the intensity of play on both sides," Watters said. "My linemate Owen Koorbusch did all the hard work. I just had to tap the puck in."
Despite the 1-0 final, the contest featured end-to-end offense with both goalies -- Darien's Michael Colon (35 saves) and Notre Dame-West Haven's Wade Conlan (37 saves) -- taking center stage as stars of the show.
"This victory was our best team effort in my three years here at Darien. It measures up with our early season win over Fairfield Prep," said Darien head coach Chris Gerwig. "We beat a really, really, really good team tonight. But it's what you would expect when you have two teams that haven't lost since opening day getting together."
Indeed. Darien (8-1-1 overall) had one other huge incentive working for it against Notre Dame-West Haven (10-2-1 overall, losses to Darien and New Canaan).
There was the matter of last year's Division I state tournament semifinal at Yale's Ingall rink where ND-West Haven ruled 8-0.
"It's hard to forget that 8-0 loss," Darien's Watters said. "We are a new team playing a new season. But this was a win we really wanted."
"This is the first time in my three years at Darien that we beat Notre Dame-West Haven," Gerwig said. "We remembered that 8-0 loss. We will enjoy tthis for a short while. But we know we will see them again in February (2014 Div. I state tourney)."
Darien did a good job keeping its forechecking intensity high while rolling three forward lines. However, Conlan -- a transfer from St. Joseph of Trumbull -- proved equal to the task for the Green Knights.
Blue Wave senior goalie Colon put his best foot forward during the trio of Darien penalties. He also saved the evening with a trio of huge saves -- including stoning ND-West Haven on a breakaway with eight minutes left in regulation.
"I knew ND-West Haven's No. 1 forward line is one of the best in the state," Colon said. "The All-State caliber goalies we've had at Darien before me were great role models to aspire to. Mental toughness is what I learned most from them. Don't get rattled is our motto."
And the Darien defense corps of seniors Nicholas Allam, Jack Massie, Ryan Misthopoulos along with juniors Brendan Cassidy, Nic Tuzinkiewicz and Aidan Loh as well as sophomore Sam Knowlton didn't get rattled either Monday night. Read Full Article
Monday's triumph was another sign of how important this 2013-14 campaign is to all the Blue Wavers.
"We have 10 seniors on the roster. So there is an urgency for success," Colon said. "Tonight was a big win and a good milestone for this season. But we can't look too far ahead. The biggest key is we're carrying our intensity from practice right into the games."
On the immediate horizon for Darien is an FCIAC home clash with Greenwich Wednesday followed by a non-league battle Saturday at 1 p.m. at Bennett Rink against West Haven, ranked No. 7 in Division I.
"I knew we needed an outstanding effort tonight and we got it," Gerwig said. "I'm really proud of the kids buying into everything we're doing in practice. It's showing on the ice and in our record. But the marathon of this season won't get any easier. The bullseye on us is just getting bigger."
Darien 1, ND-West Haven 0
NOTRE DAME WEST HAVEN 0 0 0 --0
DARIEN 0 0 1 --1
Records: ND-West Haven 10-2-1 overall; Darien 8-1-1.
Goals: D -- Tommy Watters. Assists: D -- Nicholas Allam, Owen Koorbusch. Goalies: ND WH -- Wade Conlan (37 saves). D -- Michael Colon (35 saves).
Highlights: D -- Game winning goal came with 45.9 seconds left to play.