As Darien's regular season began to wind down a month ago, the Blue Wave's offense strangely seemed to fade with it. Darien scored only 10 goals over its final five games, resulting in the team's first loss since December. These troubles followed the Blue Wave into the FCIAC tournament, where the No. 1 seed fell handedly to rival New Canaan.
Yet nowadays, those scoring issues look like nothing more than problems of the past.
No. 4 Darien routed No. 12 South Windsor 5-0 Saturday afternoon at Bennett Ice Rink, returning to the state semifinals for the second consecutive year. Senior Dillon Fitzpatrick notched two goals and an assist, including a score less than two minutes into the contest. The Blue Wave moved on to face No. 1 Notre Dame-Fairfield Wednesday night at Ingalls Rink for the chance to play for a state title.
"I couldn't be more proud of my guys right now," Darien coach Chris Gerwig said. "Our coaching staff did a great job of preparing these guys for this game, and they executed the game plan perfectly."
As told by Gerwig and his players, the Blue Wave game plan consisted of a formula designed to simply generate as many shots as possible from any manner possible. By game's end, Darien finished with 39 pucks on net.
"We simplified things," Fitzpatrick said. "Our coach told us to just start throwing pucks at the goal. We planned out little cycles, and then we executed at the right time."
Fitzpatrick first lit the lamp at the 13:52 mark in the first period on an assist from Craig Miller. South Windsor managed to respond moments later with a one-man transition effort that was dismissed by senior goaltender Michael Colon. Afterward, the Bobcats did not see more than two quality chances during even play over the remainder of the game, stymied by a strong performance from the Blue Wave defense.
Colon picked up 22 saves on the day en route to recording his eighth shutout of the year.
"We knew we had to keep it close and we knew we had to get some lucky bounces," South Windsor coach Neil Rodman said. "I thought we battled as hard as we could, and they did a great job defensively of shutting us down."
Darien entered the first intermission armed only with a 1-0 lead, but it returned to the ice in punishing fashion. The Blue Wave bombed shots repeatedly from the points and hammered the Bobcats down low in efforts to poke a puck through. Three-and-a-half minutes into the frame, a Darien goal scored on the doorstep was reversed by the referees.
Then, five minutes later, Fitzpatrick put one home that counted for good, assisted by Robbie Juterbock and Nick Tuzinkiewicz. Senior captain Tommy Watters added another score with a remarkable individual effort to push the margin to 3-0.
Amidst a handful of shots that either struck the crossbar or bounced near the goal line, Juterbock and Maxwell Romeyn each added a score in the third period to polish off the Blue Wave's win.
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Darien 5, South Windsor 0
SOUTH WINDSOR 0 0 0 --0
DARIEN 1 2 2 --5
Records: South Windsor 9-12-2, Darien 20-3-1
Goals: SW--None; D--Dillon Fitzpatrick 2, Tommy Watters, Robbie Juterbock, Maxwell Romeyn; Assists: SW--None; D-- Craig Miller, Robbie Juterbock, Nick Tuzinkiewicz, Dillon Fitzpatrick, Brendan Cassidy; Goalies: SW--Scott Skenyon (34 saves); D--Mike Colon (22 saves) Shots: SW--22; D--39