RIDGEFIELD — After tying New Canaan last week, Darien senior captain Sam Erickson wasn’t happy.
He said the team needed to play more physical and come out faster the next time it took the ice.
On Wednesday afternoon, sparked by Erickson’s first-period goal, the No. 4 Blue Wave did just that, shutting out No. 7 Ridgefield 4-0 at the Winter Garden.
“He’s really matured and become a great leader for the team,” Darien coach Mac Budd said. “I think that’s the key thing and he is leading by example.”
The win is Darien’s first since its season opener on Feb. 10.
“We definitely played harder,” Erickson said. “We played more physical, found each other more, got bodies in front of the net. But I think if we want to win anything this year, we still have a long way to go.”
For the first 11 minutes of the game Darien had chances, but was unable to beat Ridgefield goalie Matt Silliman until Erickson got one past him with under four minutes left in the period.
Darien’s Arthur Devillers scored back-to-back goals less than a minute later, giving his team a 3-0 advantage.
The scoring from Devillers and his second-line mates is something the Blue Wave has been waiting for.
“Him burying it twice tonight, shows everyone is buying in now and we are working as a unit,” Erickson said.
Ridgefield didn’t go away quietly, and in the second period had more than a couple of chances to get on the board.
“It was very nice to see our guys respond and not just fold starting in the second and finishing the second strong,” Ridgefield coach Shaun Gallagher said.
Despite the opportunities, the Tigers were unable to solve Darien goalie Chris Schofield. The junior goalie made 18 saves to earn the shutout win.
“We needed Schofield to step up and he did,” Budd said.
Teddy Dyer tallied seven seconds into the third period to round out the scoring for Darien.
“I think tonight we were good,” Budd said. “We played fast in that first period and got a very good team back on their heels to start the game. Thank goodness.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Darien’s Sam Erickson: The captain continued to lead with his physical play and scored the first goal of the game.
“What I love is late in the game and you look and there is a guy getting in the goalies’ eyes and it’s your captain, Sam Erickson, who is a really highly skilled guy. But at the end of the game, he is leading by example, where he is the guy getting in the tough areas.” — Darien coach Mac Budd on his senior captain Sam Erickson.