GREENWICH — A fast start keyed the Greenwich girls hockey team’s victory against New Canaan at the 2018 Ice Hockey Winter Classic, but Saturday, finishing with a flurry propelled the Cardinals past one of their main rivals.
Scoring the go-ahead goal in the second period, then adding two third-period tallies, Greenwich kept its success streak going at a game it always eagerly anticipates.
Sophomore Tess Marciano registered two goals, sophomore Lexi Danielson had one goal and one assist and senior Jessica Ware made 22 saves to lead Greenwich to an impressive 4-1 win over FCIAC foe New Canaan at the third annual outdoor Ice Hockey Winter Classic at Greenwich Skating Club.
The Cardinals, who edged the Rams, 3-2, behind three first-period goals in last season’s Winter Classic, improved its record to 5-1 with its fourth straight triumph.
“Our team stayed composed, blocked out the distractions, because there was a lot going on and played very well,” GHS coach Alex Lerchen said. “I’m proud of the team.”
New Canaan (3-2) received a goal from junior Courtney O’Connell and 18 saves from junior Blythe Novick.
“I like the way we came out,” Rams coach Rich Bulan said. “Give Greenwich a ton of credit, they jumped at us and kept coming. Last time, it was early when they took the lead on us and then we played better. This year we came out decent and then they took shots on net and we couldn’t get a lot of shots on net.”
Saturday’s matchup, a rematch of last season’s FCIAC final, which was won by New Canaan, saw the first period end in a 1-1 tie.
The Rams scored the game’s first goal at the 9:36 mark of the opening period. Gathering the puck in the low slot off a rebound on a shot from sophomore Kaleigh Harden, O’Connell tallied off a one-timer, giving the Rams a 1-0 edge.
“It came down to pushing and pushing for the rebound,” O’Connell said. “It was a gritty play. Those are the type of things we need to capitalize on.”
Greenwich tallied the equalizer on Marciano’s power play goal off a scramble in front of the net. Her rebound goal was set up by shots from senior Emma Wingrove and Danielson.
“This is my first time I have been a forward on the power play and it is very different from playing defense,” said Mariano, a defender. “You have to be a lot more aggressive in going to the net. I was just there and ready when the rebound came and went for it.”
Senior Katie Piotrzkowski gave Greenwich the lead for good, tallying 59 seconds into the second period. Her shot near the left circle beat Novick to her glove side, making it 2-1. Freshman forward Caroline Lawrence assisted on the pivotal goal.
“Just dumping it, chasing it, getting a lot of shots on goal and working harder helped us,” Piotrzkowski said. “We seem to always play our best in the third period and then we build on our momentum.”
The Rams went on a power-play with 2:43 to go in the second period, but the Cards kept their lead, courtesy of Ware, who made several saves in the closing minutes of the period.
Sophomore Madeline Kloud, Harden and O’Connell paced the Rams’ push offensively.
Piotrzkowski, sophomore Delaney Roth and Marciano helped lead the Cardinals’ effective defensive effort.
“They (defenders) have been playing well in front of me,” Ware said. “They have been keeping people out of the middle and to the outside and are doing a great job. Whenever they are outside I tell them to clear the middle and they did exactly that today and I think that’s why we were so successful.”
Said Lerchen: “Jess bailed us out a few times today. She’s a veteran goalie and we are lucky to have her back.”
Greenwich sealed the game in the third period, getting goals from Danielson with 6:21 left and Marciano with 34.3 seconds remaining.
“They played well in the offensive zone and on defense they were bottling up the front on us,” Bulan said of Greenwich. “Overall, it was a good game for them. We are down three people due to injuries, but that’s the way it is, we have to deal with it.”
Ware made six saves during the third period, as did Novick in goal.
“I feel like we had the chances, it just comes down to that last push to get it in,” O’Connell said. “The next few weeks, we are going to work on capitalizing on those chances.”
— Greenwich Time Spts (@GreenwichSports) December 29, 2019
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Marciano’s two goals and Ware’s performance in goal helped key the Cards.
“Our team has a very different dynamic from last season’s team,” Marciano said. “We lost a lot of seniors from last year’s team, but our new players are finding their place on the team well.”
“This game is really fun, we have friends and family who come and watch us play, which is great,” Wingrove said. “The atmosphere is really fun as well, it is definitely our most exiting game of the year so far.”
Added Lerchen: “It’s a great game for the community and it’s nice to see alums come out and support us. I’m thankful for the Skating Club for having us and New Canaan for playing us. They played a great game as well.”
GREENWICH 4, NEW CANAAN 1
NEW CANAAN 1 0 0 – 1
GREENWICH 1 1 2 – 4
Goals: NC – Courtney O’Connell; G – Tess Marciano 2; Katie Piotrzkowski, Lexi Danielson; Assists: NC – Kaleigh Harden; G – Emma Wingrove 2, Caroline Lawrence, Danielson; Goalies: NC – Blythe Novick (18 saves); G – Jessica Ware (22 saves).
Records: Greenwich 5-1; New Canaan 3-2