Darien and Greenwich each entered Saturday night’s FCIAC girls hockey matchup riding long unbeaten streaks.
After 45 intense minutes, the Blue Wave kept theirs going.
Junior goalie Hallie Kreppein registered another shutout and sophomore forward Kelly Raymond tallied in the first period to lead Darien to a 1-0 victory over Greenwich at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink.
Both teams have one game left in the regular season, but are locked in to their respective seeding for the FCIAC Tournament, which begins on Feb. 20 at Darien Ice Rink.
Sporting an overall record of 14-3-1 and 11-1-1 in the FCIAC, the Blue Wave will earn the No. 2 seed in the four-team conference tournament. Greenwich (14-5, 10-4 FCIAC) will enter the FCIAC Tournament seeded third, so it will play Darien for a third time this season when the FCIAC tourney begins.
Since starting its season 2-3, Darien has gone 12-0-1 over its last 13 games.
“It was a really intense game, both teams really wanted it really badly,” said Kreppein, who also posted a shutout in the rivals’ first meeting of the season — a 2-0 Darien win last month. “We wanted this win more than any game we played. We have a nice streak going and we are rolling on to the playoffs.”
Raymond scored the game’s lone goal with 13:17 remaining in the first period. Darien registered a shot on goal that bounced off the pads of Greenwich sophomore goalie Hannah Goldenberg and Raymond knocked in the rebound, giving the Blue Wave a 1-0 lead.
Darien came out as the aggressor, before Greenwich found its form toward the end of the first period.
“I’m extremely happy with the first period, I thought we played great,” Darien coach Jamie Tropsa said. “The second and third period, I thought they outplayed us, to be honest. They’re a very good team and they put us back on our heels and made us make mistakes. We’ll get better from it.”
Said GHS coach Alex Lerchen: “We definitely came out flat and they controlled the first 10 minutes or so, beating us to every puck. We played better in the second and third period and we had our chances in the offensive zone. I thought it was evenly matched.”
Both goalies made six saves during the third period that saw each team kill power plays. Junior forward Caitlin Chan and Raymond kept the pressure on Greenwich’s defenders during Darien’s power play, while senior forwards Jennifer Kelly, Paige Finneran and Grace Fahey helped pace the Cards’ offensively.
Greenwich nearly scored off a scramble in front of the net at the 7:58 mark and Goldenberg turned away a shot from point-blank range from Chan off a breakaway with 2:40 to go in the third period. The Cardinals haven’t been able to solve Darien’s goalie through two games this season.
“Our goalie made big saves when she had to,” Tropsa said. “She’s been doing that all season.”
Supported by defenders Cate Droogan (senior) and Catherine Martin (sophomore) Kreppein once again, stood tall in goal.
“They (defenders) did a very good job,” Kreppein said. “I always tell them to let me get the shots from the point, because it’s easier to stop them, since I could see them far out. They did a great job defending in front of me and I made sure I was there when they needed help. This was a fast-paced, good hockey game.”
Goldenberg made 19 saves for Greenwich, hosts Wilton/Norwalk/McMahon on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. Darien hosts Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m.
“That first period hurt us, we came out a little slow,” Finneran said. “The puck bounced their way and we were just chasing the rest of the way. But the second and third period, we had control of the puck, we were forechecking hard. We need to figure out a way to come out really strong, play our normal game and get the name of Darien out of our head.”
“Other than the first goal I think we played well,” GHS senior defender Hayley Duffy said. “We definitely started stepping up in the second and third period and played a lot better defensively. “We also got a few shots on net, which was always good. Tonight, we just couldn’t bury them.”
PLAYING IN PINK FOR A GOOD CAUSE
Players from the Greenwich and Darien squads each wore pink laces on their skates to raise awareness for breast cancer. Donations were taken during the game to raise money for the Greenwich-based Breast Cancer Alliance organization.
A raffle was also held to support the cause. Between donations and the raffle, more than $800 was raised for the Breast Cancer Alliance.