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Friday, March 23 High School Sports

Darien boys hockey ices New Canaan for 1st win

DARIEN—The Darien High School boys ice hockey prides itself on playing one of the toughest schedules in the state each season.

The challenge of battling that high caliber opposition paid dividends Saturday morning as the Blue Wave conquered archrival New Canaan High, 8-1 at the Darien Ice rink.

It was a nice early Christmas present for Darien as it gained its first victory of the season following road losses to Hamden (6-4) and Fairfield Prep (5-2).

“Our schedule is in response to the idea there are really good boys ice hockey teams across the state of Connecticut. With a schedule like ours, you are going to take some lumps along the way,” said Darien coach Mac Budd. “You can coach at practice all you want. But the experience of doing something at game speed is how you learn best.”


Having to play these Darien-New Canaan boys ice hockey games in the daytime has cooled the ardor of some fans on each side. But it hasn’t changed the physical, football-mentality of the players on the ice.

Darien scored with 15 seconds left in the first period and 3:37 into the second period for a 2-0 edge.

Tempers flared with 10:57 left in the second period. A rough check into the boards resulted in two New Canaan and one Darien player drawing two-minute roughing penalties.

Darien’s Matt Stein also drew a five-minute major penalty and 10-minute misconduct penalty in the extended sequence.

The contest’s turning point resulted as Darien’s Hunter Hazelton and Will Dickson each scored in 4-on-4 for a 4-0 Blue Wave edge.

Gunnar Granito had a powerplay tally and New Canaan had another goal disallowed during a 3:22 sequence where the Rams held a 5-on-3 skater edge for 4-1.

“We didn’t manufacture many challenging shots in the first period,” Darien coach Budd said. “The 4-on-4 sequence with open ice helped our offense to get untracked.”


New Canaan’s first-year coach Clark Jones faces the challenge of having 15 Rams graduate from last season’s 19-5-1 squad.

Four forward lines, three defense pairings and two new goalies can’t become a new masterpiece in a day.

The Rams are now 0-3 (losses to ND-West Haven (3-2), Hamden (12-6) and Darien (8-1)).

With 10 days until hosting Ridgefield on January 3, 2018, New Canaan has concerns.

The Rams have trouble getting out of their own end. They have allowed too many goals in the last minute of a period. New junior goalie Jack Spain has been beaten on rebounds. He was beaten often Saturday on shots to the net’s top corner due in part to being screened by opponents.

“There are bumps in the road every season. Our bumpy road is now with 15 new players,” NC coach Jones said. “We had 10 penalties today. There’s no way you can win a game like that. I thought we were okay in our long stretches of playing 5-on-5. The coaching staff have to show these kids the way to play to find the road to success.”

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Darien hopes to return to action on Saturday December 30 against Greenwich.

The present plan calls for the 4 p.m. clash to be played outdoors at the Greenwich Skating Club. We’ll see if this coming week’s weather makes that possible.



NEW CANAAN 0 1 0—1

DARIEN 1 5 2—8

At Darien Ice rink. Records: New Canaan (0-3), Darien (1-2). Goals: NC—Gunnar Granito. D—Robbie Stewart (PP), Bennett McDermott 2, Hunter Hazelton, Will Dickson, Will Culliton, James Gregory (PP), Hudson Pokorny. Assists: D—Gregory 2, Will Johnston. Goalies: NC—Jack Spain (14 saves), Dylan Shane (4). D—Henri Pfeifle (19 saves).