Greenwich Skating Club will be the scene for a pair of classic high school hockey matchups on Saturday.
The Greenwich High School boys and girls ice hockey teams will compete in the inaugural Winter Classic 2017 at Greenwich Skating Club’s outdoor rink.
The Cardinals boys team will faceoff against FCIAC rival Darien outside at 4 p.m. Greenwich’s girls squad plays against Amity/North Haven/Cheshire in the opener at Greenwich Skating Club at 12 p.m.
Three hundred tickets were made available for the boys game, which is sold out. Buses will shuttle fans to Greenwich Skating Club from Greenwich High School. No one may enter the bus going to Greenwich Skating Club without a ticket.
Indeed, the outdoor aspect of the game adds even more intrigue to the Greenwich-Darien boys hockey rivalry.
“We like our rivalry with Darien, we have a healthy rivalry with them,” GHS boys coach Chris Rurak said. “When we talked to them about the event they were really excited and appreciative to us for including them. We always expect a great game from Darien and emotions will be running high.”
The idea for a Winter Classic event was brought up by Greenwich last season.
“We did an intra-squad scrimmage outside last year, which was popular and exciting for the kids and parents,” Rurak said. “We talked to Greenwich Skating Club and they thought it would be a great idea to have it and bring in a big opponent like Darien.”
The games will be streamed live online by HAN Network, which discussed having such an event with Greenwich last winter. Rurak said his squad is looking forward to competing in the big game at Greenwich Skating Club — a familiar venue for most of his players.
“Our town has a feeder program that came through Greenwich Skating Club, so this gives them one more competitive game there that they would otherwise not have,” Rurak said. “It should be really special for them.”
The Cardinals, who advanced to the FCIAC Tournament finals last season, enter Saturday’s showdown against the Blue Wave with a record of 2-0. They downed St. Joseph, 10-2, in their season-opener, then beat West Haven, 5-2.
Senior forward Alex Mozian recorded two goals and two assists to lead Greenwich past West Haven, while senior Connor Santry had a hat trick in the team’s win against St. Joseph.
Darien goes into its game against Greenwich with a record of 1-2. The Blue Wave started their season with losses to Hamden and Fairfield Prep, before beating rival New Canaan.
Greenwich’s girls team will begin Saturday’s game against Amity/North Haven/Cheshire with a 4-0 mark and a No. 4 ranking in the state. The Cardinals have scored 21 goals through four games, while yielding just one.
Meanwhile, Amity/ North Haven/Cheshire, which is ranked fifth in the state, sports a record of 5-1. They have allowed only eight goals over six games.
“The girls are excited for this game, a lot of them grew up playing at the Skating Club, so this should bring back a lot of memories,” Cardinals girls coach Alex Lerchen said. “It’s a nice opportunity to play one of the top-ranked teams in the state in a great atmosphere. There was a chance to play both a boys and girls game at Greenwich Skating Club, so I sought out a number of teams and Dec. 30 worked for Amity/North Haven/Cheshire.”
Saturday’s forecast calls for temperatures in the teens with the possibility of a little bit of snow, so winter is indeed the key word in this event.
“It’s exciting to have an outdoor game during our break against a good team,” GHS girls senior captain/defender Jennie Piotrzkowski said.
Said Lerchen: “We will see what the weather looks like on Saturday. It’s supposed to be about 10 degrees with some light snow, so that could alter the game plan a little bit. It should be a great game.”