DARIEN — The Darien boys ice hockey team had to wait nearly a week to get back on the ice following a heartbreaking double overtime loss to Greenwich in the FCIAC semifinals.
Needless to say, it was an angry group of Blue Wave players.
Darien took out its frustrations on St. Joseph, scoring five goals in the first period, steamrolling to a 10-0 victory in the opening round of the CIAC Div. I tournament Tuesday night at the Darien Ice House.
It was simply an overwhelming victory for the Blue Wave.
“We just got back to practice and worked hard,” Darien senior co-captain Hudson Pokorny said. “Last week was a tough loss for everyone and it was demoralizing, but we knew what we had to do. We wanted to set the tone with this game and treat every game like a state championship. We made sure we did that today.”
“It’s been a lot of just getting back into it,” Darien senior co-captain James Gregory said. “That was a tough loss to take, but it’s only made the team want it more. We’re ready to go every step of the way and get wins. We know we can’t take a shift off because that’s how you get hurt.”
No. 3 Darien (17-5) will now face No. 6 Notre Dame-West Haven (11-9-1) in the Div. I quarterfinals on Saturday at a site and time to be determined.
The Wave defeated NDWH in the final game of the regular season, 7-3, in a contest which featured 13 penalties and seven power play goals — four for Darien and three for Notre Dame.
For the Cadets, Tuesday’s first-round loss ended a frustrating season in which they struggled to find a scoring touch, netting just 32 goals in 21 games.
“The easy thing to say is keep your head up,” St. Joseph coach Eddy Lemaire said. “We’re trying to rebuild and for the seniors, as they move on, they led our team and kept us motivated. It would’ve been easy for them to just give up and they didn’t.”
Darien’s avalanche of goals began just 1:09 in when Sam Erickson took a pass from Teddy Dyer and went top shelf. Pokorny followed with another goal 35 seconds later, and when Blake Swiggett scored with assists from Bennett McDermott and CJ Hathaway, the Wave had a 3-0 lead in just 2:40.
The Wave scored two more goals in the period for a 5-0 lead after one, and then added three in the second period, and two more in the third.
Darien outshot the Cadets 35-10. Wave goalie Henri Pfeifle made 10 saves for the shutout, while St. Joseph used both of its senior goalies, with Will Brady making 18 saves and Chris Higgins making seven saves.
Erickson had two goals and two assists, Dyer and John Reid each had a goal and two assists, and Hathaway and Swiggett each had one goal and one assist.
The Blue Wave had beaten St. Joe’s 9-0 during the regular season but didn’t take another win for granted.
“It doesn’t matter who we play, we’ll go out there and play our game,” Gregory said. “We treat everyone the same way — a team you’ve played three times or a team you haven’t played at all — you’ve just go to go out there and pound them and give 100% effort. That’s how you’re going to win games.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Sam Erickson, Darien. The Wave’s sophomore forward led the team in points with two goals, including the game’s first goal, and two assists.
“Since day one, we knew we had a lot of good guys coming in and a lot of good guys staying from last year’s team. We thought if we worked hard, we could get to where we want to be and that’s ending in a big pile at the end of the year.” — Darien senior co-captain Hudson Pokorny.