DARIEN — Emma Wingrove and Jennifer Kelly were quite a goal-scoring combination for the Greenwich High School girls ice hockey team during Wednesday night’s FCIAC tournament semifinals.
Wingrove, a sophomore, scored twice in the first two periods while Kelly, a junior, assisted on both goals, setting the tone nicely for the soaring Cardinals.
Sparked offensively by the duo, top-seeded Greenwich skated to a 3-0 win over fourth-seeded Ridgefield/Danbury in the semifinal round of the FCIAC tournament at Darien Ice Rink.
The defending FCIAC champion Cardinals will play either Darien or New Canaan in Saturday’s championship game at Darien Ice Rink. The victory marked Greenwich’s third of the season against Ridgefield/Danbury, all of which were shutouts. Besides assisting on two goals, Kelly added a third-period tally.
“It feel amazing,” Kelly said. “All the hard work we put in all season and when you come out on top in a semifinal game, you really feel like you earned it.”
After Greenwich withstood pressure from Ridgefield/Danbury over the first five minutes of play, the Cardinals scored the game’s first goal.
Kelly, a forward, put a shot on goal from the left wing that bounced off the pads of Tigers sophomore goalie Kendal Mountain and positioned in front of the net, Wingrove tapped the puck by Mountain, making it 1-0 with 9:12 left in the opening period.
“I was able to get the rebound by keeping my stick on the ice,” Wingrove said. “Getting a lot of shots on goal was key for us. That’s what we needed to do.”
Greenwich outshot Ridgefield/Danbury, 12-5, in the first period, but the Tigers had some good opportunities. Cardinals senior goalie Jessie Aselin (17 saves) made a pad save off a shot from the left wing by Tigers freshman Julia Zangre with 50 seconds to go in the first period. Aselin made five first-period saves, while Mountain stopped 11 shots.
“We came out flying and came out really hard,” Ridgefield/Danbury coach Lauren Lubrano said. “Our goalie played great, making a lot of great saves. We had a couple of breakdowns and that’s why Greenwich is so good, they capitalize on opportunities.”
Greenwich padded its advantage at the 8:26 mark of the second period. With the Cards pressuring the puck inside Ridgefield’s zone, Kelly snapped a hsot toward the net from the left faceoff circle and the opportunistic Wingrove got her stick on the puck, which found its way inside the right post, putting GHS on top 2-0.
“That was a nice assist from Jen, our teamwork really paid off,” Wingrove said.
The Cardinals threatened to increase their lead later in the second period, but Ridgefield killed a power play and Mountain made several impressive saves off strong shots from Kelly, Riley Ellsworth, Sydney Orszulak and Wingrove.
Greenwich went on a power play late in the second period, but Ridgefield killed it, keeping it a two-goal game.
Ridgefield/Danbury had a pair of power play chances during the final period and it stepped up its pressure, but Cardinals defenders Jennie Piotrzkowski, Orszulak, Katie Piotrzkowski and Emily Bello helped keep Ridgefield/Danbury off the scoreboard.
“You can’t take away Ridgefield’s effort,” said Jennie Piotrzkowski, a senior captain for the Cardinals. “They were aggressive and they played really hard. It feels great to make it to the finals again. That is something our program has been working for. It is going to be an unforgettable game.”
Zangre, Rebecca Gartner and Emily Stefanelli helped pace Ridgefield/Danbury’s offensive effort. Meanwhile, Kelly gave GHS more breathing room when she one-timed an Orszulak feed with 6:25 left in the third period. Mountain made 33 saves for Ridgefield/Danbury.
“Our team played better as the game went on,” GHS coach Alex Lerchen said. “Getting to the FCIAC finals again is a real nice honor, these girls deserve it. Nothing in this league is easy by any means.”
Greenwich enters Saturday’s title tilt with a record of 17-2-1.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Wingrove made sure Greenwich capitalized on a couple of its scoring opportunities, while Kelly had a hand in all three Cardinals goals. Aselin posted Greenwich’s fifth shutout of the season.
As they have done all season, the Cardinals’ defenders made it difficult for Ridgefield to generate shots on goal.
“They make it hard to get pucks to the net and as soon as we do get rebounds, they are there to block us out,” Lubrano said. “They are a very good defensive team.”
“Overall, we played great,” Mountain said. “I am very excited for next season, I think we are going to play great together.”
GREENWICH 3, RIDGEFIELD/DANBURY 0
RIDGEFIELD/DANBURY 0 0 0 — 0
GREENWICH 1 1 1 — 3
Goals: G — Emma Wingrove 2, Jennifer Kelly; Assists: G — Jennifer Kelly 2, Sydney Orszulak; Goalies: R — Kendal Mountain (33 saves)
Records: G 17-2-1; R/D 8-12-1