DARIEN — Both Notre Dame-West Haven coach Tim Belcher and Darien coach Mac Budd agree, their teams are much better when they’re playing full-strength hockey.
That was rarely the case Wednesday night and it was the Green Knights that took advantage, scoring three power play goals en route to a 5-2 road win over Darien.
“I tell my guys, when we play 5-on-5 I think we’re a good team,” Belcher said. “Special teams can really turn a game. It did tonight for us, but that can just as easily have gone the other way.”
Ian Hayden got the scoring started for Notre Dame, tallying during a power play on a perfect feed from Christopher Hibson.
Nine seconds later, Darien evened the score on Will Johnston’s strike.
The second period saw under two minutes of play without a player from either team in the penalty box. The Knights (4-1) capitalized with man-up goals from Hibson and Mitchell Montaine in a three-minute span.
“The power play was clicking for us tonight, and when we had our chances we were able to capitalize on them,” Belcher said. “We know it’s going to be a “chippy” game when we play Darien. It’s two good teams going at each other and we came out on top. I thought we controlled the play for stretches but nothing is easy in Division I, and a win is a win.”
Johnston added his second just after a 5-on-3 Darien (1-4) power play midway through the third to bring the deficit to one, but the Green Knights pulled away late on two goals from Michael Bencivengo — the second an empty netter.
“They’re absolutely killing us,” Budd said of the penalties. “We deserved to get beat tonight, no ifs, ands or buts. We went into the game with 27 penalties in four games —which is unacceptable. It’s up to the guys. It says a lot about the character of the team in regards to a lack of discipline; taking penalties that are killing the team, and they’re not even good penalties. I’m frustrated at tonight. I’m frustrated at the way we played. Most of all at our lack of discipline, and it’s going to kill us. You can’t win playing like that.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
The NDWH underclassmen. The youth movement of the Knights has led them all year; of their five goals, one was scored by a freshman (Hibson) and two by a sophomore (Bencivengo).
“Our freshman and sophomores are leading us in scoring this year,” Belcher said. “Kyle Stober, Hibson and Bencivengo. We’re relying on younger kids and I’ve said it 1,000 times, I don’t care what year you are in school, if you’re contributing to a win, then we’re happy as coaches.”
GETTING LATE EARLY
Darien knew its early slate would be daunting, and its current record of 1-4 proves that. Coming into Wednesday’s contest, the record of the teams the Wave have fallen to is a combined 15-1. While the schedule gets easier and the season is young, Budd knows his team must figure it out in a hurry.Read Full Article
“Yeah, the schedule is tough, but if we consider ourselves to be a pretty decent team we need to win some of these games,” Budd said. “We can’t go a whole season saying we were close; close doesn’t matter. You have to win games, and that’s what it’s about at the high school level. And if we want to make any kind of run and be there at the end of the year, it’s going to have to start pretty soon.”
NOTRE DAME-WEST HAVEN 5, DARIEN 2
NOTRE DAME-WEST HAVEN 1 2 2—5
DARIEN 1 0 1—2
Records: Notre Dame-West Haven 4-1; Darien 1-4. Goals: NDWH—Ian Hayden, Christopher Hibson, Mitchell Montaine, Michael Bencivengo 2; D—Will Johnston 2. Assists: NDWH—Hibson, Bencivengo. Goalies: NDWH—Brendan Crowley (22 saves); D—Henri Pfeifle (15). Shots: NDWH—20; D—24.