Rich Bulan’s New Canaan girls ice hockey team has a seemingly endless supply of talented freshmen this season, a fact which has been a boon for the Rams and a bane for their opponents.
Take New Canaan’s latest contest, for instance. Freshmen accounted for four goals and three assists as the Rams handled a solid Fairfield co-op team, 7-0, Tuesday at the Darien Ice House.
Grace Crowell, one of eight ninth-graders in the lineup, scored the first two goals of her career, including the ice-breaker 3:40 after the opening drop.
The influx of young talent has had Bulan smiling for much of the season.
“I couldn’t believe that was (Crowell’s) first goal because she’s been playing so well,” the New Canaan head coach said. “Just watch her play, she skates, she gets assists and she scores. We had eight freshmen in the lineup tonight including the whole first line and the whole third line. Watching Grace play and the tone she and the other freshmen set is pretty cool.”
The win bumped New Canaan’s records up to 7-1 overall and 5-1 in the FCIAC, and they rank second in the state and first in the conference. It was also the Rams’ second straight victory since a 3-2 loss to Greenwich in the Winter Classic on Dec. 29.
“We’re a really close team and we knew in that Greenwich game it wasn’t just one person’s fault, we all came out not ready to play,” senior co-captain Katelyn Sparks said. “We’ve been focused and we’ve never had a negative practice. We’re very close team and we’re always positive.”
Eight players had points for the Rams, with five finding the net. The all-freshman first line accounted for four goals: Crowell scored twice, Angelica Megdanis had a goal and two assists, and Kaleigh Harden had a goal and one assist.
Sophomores Anika Curri (2 goals) and Courtney O’Connell (1 goal) also scored, with senior co-captain Jess Eccleston (2 assists), and junior Sophie Potter and sophomore McKenna Harden (1 assist each) getting points.
Fairfield (3-2-1 overall, 2-2-1 FCIAC), which fell behind 3-0 in the first period and 6-0 after two, was unable to get on track, although it stepped up after a meeting in the locker room following the second frame.
“One thing I did tell them in between the second and third periods was to remember that we’re a family,” Fairfield head coach Michelle Marella said. “We’ve all got to think of being a unit and jelling together, not playing individually, settling down and playing a position. It seems to work with them because the last time I said that, we came out on top and won, and tonight I think we came out better in the third period.”
Sophomore goalie Sidney Falterer was the standout for Fairfield, racking up 37 saves against a relentless New Canaan attack which took 44 shots.
“Sydney Falterer had an excellent game,” Marella said. “She is definitely an All-State player, she’s a sophomore, and she’s shown some growth. She’s one of the more mature girls out on the ice. We can always learn and grow, but she’s definitely always there and ready to play.”
Crowell opened the scoring when she slid a low shot past Falterer after assists from Megdanis and Eccleston.
O’Connell poked in a rebound for the second goal, with McKenna Harden assisting, and Crowell scored again, this time with assists from Kaleigh Harden and Megdanis, to close out the first period.
Megdanis then added an unassisted goal 40 seconds into the second period, and New Canaan was off to the races.
“Once we really got skating, we were great,” Bulan said. “Down deep, we really kept control of the puck. Our puck movement tonight was outstanding and when we get in one of those kinds of modes, it’s tough to defend against us.”
Player of the game
Grace Crowell, New Canaan. Crowell, one of the Rams’ many freshmen, netted the first two goals of her varsity career, and put New Canaan on the scoreboard early in the first period. She also scored the third goal of that opening period, and was part of the Rams’ first line which accounted for four goals and seven points.
“It was awesome. We did everything that we know we can do. We have so many scorers on this team, everyone plays together, and that makes this team special.” — New Canaan senior co-captain Katelyn Sparks
NEW CANAAN 7, FAIRFIELD 0
Fairfield 0-0-0 0
New Canaan 3-3-1 7
New Canaan: Angelica Megdanis 1g, 2a; Grace Crowell 2g; Anika Curri 2g; Kaleigh Harden 1g, 1a; Jessica Eccleston 2a; Courtney O’Connell 1g; McKenna Harden 1a; Sophie Potter 1a; Goalies: FF – Sidney Falterer 37 saves; NC – Blythe Novick 5 saves; Shots: FF 5; NC 44
New Canaan (7-1 overall, 5-1 FCIAC); Fairfield (3-2-1, 2-2-1)